‘Seasonal Abandonment of Imaginary Worlds’ is a photographic collection of aging Japanese playgrounds, captured by photographer Carine Thévenau, in rural Japan. The playscapes are either abandoned or empty due to seasonal snowfall, but the absence of life creates a space, ripe for the imagination. Although the playgrounds may arouse a nostalgic sensation, a more critical analysis reveals a portrait of place and offers us a glimpse of spacetime paused, yet actively in motion.
The series explores urban spatial narratives and “Ma”, the Japanese word (and concept) for absence through space and time. There is no translation in English for the word “Ma”, however it refers to the space between or negative space between physical matter, where life and emotion can exist. Thévenau interprets the emptiness or “ma”, within the playgrounds, as a silence or tension, akin to the pause in a music score or the interval of a theatrical play; what came before, what is there now and what comes afterwards? The abandoned playgrounds, as they appear here, are the residue of an aging Japanese population, yet hint towards the rising Satori (Enlightened) Generation, who value vintage over shiny new designer goods and a slower pace of life.
The playgrounds reveal economic shifts and Japanese cultural philosophies towards nature, respect, waste and sustainability, as the playgrounds pictured here, are objects of a longer life cycle than the playgrounds of the West. Each jungle gym or slide set appears to be gracefully decaying. There is no graffiti or damage to the playgrounds, allowing the possibility of further interaction, whether for child’s play or otherwise. Thévenau describes the neglected play spaces as a crease in an origami-like structure of spacetime, actively folding into new time frames and thus new landscapes.
The release will see a limited book release (a First Edition of 500 including 25 Special Edition signed and numbered copies with an origami print). An exhibition at Koskela Gallery, Sydney, as part of Sydney Design Week (10 March – 08 April, 2018) will display large size prints (100cm x 65cm) printed on bamboo paper with a paper installation by Benja Harney.
Hardcover with natural cloth spine
48 pages – 32 color photographs
8.3in x 10.2in (21cm x 26cm)
Carine Thévenau is a Mauritian/Australian artist who draws much of her inspiration from the natural world, people and her own habitual surroundings. Her work, with a strong portraiture focus, often explores the relationship between man and nature, wilderness and built environments. She is fascinated by the interrelationship humans have with light, wind, plants, seasonal change and other organic phenomena. Passionate about sustainable practices within the arts, Thévenau continually experiments with ethical materials within her own arts practice. She has recently been awarded a Master of Fine Art from the University of New South Wales, Art and Design and has exhibited in solo and group shows in Los Angeles, Berlin, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Her photography has previously been published in Vogue (Australia), Wallpaper (UK), i-D Magazine (UK), Champ Magazine (Tokyo, Japan) and she has spoken as a guest artist at the AgIdeas International Design Conference (Australia).