Tetsuro Kano’s Burgeoning Weeds

Since 2004, Tetsuro Kano has been scattering seeds around places – such as galleries and art museums – where the sun shines bright but no one would expect to find weeds. Kano gives them a new life as they are reborn as artworks.

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“Burgeoning Weeds”, the tatami and my memory of cinema.
by Aneta Glinkowska

posted on 2006-07-03 at 16:07 in TABlog

Installation art does not have a commercial appeal because, among other reasons, it does not have a permanent or practical enough form for private display.
Tetsuro Kano’s works, now at the Nico Gallery, bridge in a sense the commercial and non-commercial. If you like, the artist can grow weeds on the tatami mats in your living-room. His installation comes, if you are lucky, with water and minerals, real, hospital IV drip feeder, as well as with a delicate, light color drawing depicting, or just inspired by the resulting plant. The tatami mat is just one of the unusual places where Kano has grown weeds for his installations; Other spots include a room corner, as in the Nico Gallery, a crack in the floor and other surfaces.
Growing weeds on the tatami mat seems the most symbolic. In Japan, the tatami seems to be religiously protected from people’s shoes. If reality does not confirm this enough, the cinema does the job. The film Who is Camus Anyway? includes a scene where a character breaks into an old lady’s house, flashing a monstrous size knife, to murder her. He enters a traditional tatami room, having first taken his shoes off and set them very orderly by the entrance. In Nobody Knows, the dirty mats of the room inhabited by the abandoned kids reflect precariousness of their situation. The place gets messier and filthier with each day passed without the mother. Things are spinning out of control, yet when a neighborhood kid comes to visit, she is compelled to take her shoes off to enter the sticky from dirt tatamis. Doing so she’s not only showing the respect for the house but the ingrained habit to bare the feet before stepping on the tatami mat.
Tetsuro Kano’s weed growing is by no means a statement on the tatami place in the Japanese culture. There is some ecological dimension to it, but due to its minimalism, one can only theorize about it. Perhaps he’s suggesting that the parasitic weeds are to be even more cherished than the straw tatamis mats. There is a symbolic strength in those unwelcome plants which are capable of growing and re-growing repeatedly almost anywhere and no amount of cutting will eradicate them.
Kano, by controlling their growth, makes the weed into an aesthetic object. The tiny gallery Nico seems too big for the bunch of weeds growing from the corner (the tatami works are not in the show, but can be viewed in the catalogs), object of attention, literally in the spotlight. The exhibit piece resembles a some vintage sci-fi, post-nuclear, last surviving plant or genus.

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