Oharai / ceremony お祓い/ 儀式
Yamanashi, Japan
2015
Paper, soil, rice straw, video 紙、土、稲穂
Kate Hill + Eugene Howard 
ケイト ヒル + ユージン ホワド


Oharai, meaning ceremony, refers to the Japanese tradition of Jichinsai, a ritual carried out to bless land before altering it. Jichinsai involves a series of actions including partitioning the intended land to be worked upon (through construction etc) by bamboo and rope made from rice straw, and the offering of gifts such as sake, rice and salt. The partition is left until the land is worked on.

Carrying over from Kate Hill's work in Japan and Australia involving digging, refining and processing local clay, and Eugene Howard's work around landscape and layering through works on paper and examinations into gardening practices and care, Oharai offers traces of a Jichinsai ritual performed by the artists and friends in Hokuto, Yamanashi, on an artist residency - prior to and in retrospect to, the act of digging.

This work encompasses a video of the performance, a series of soil on paper drawings mapping the process of digging through layers of earth, and a collection of works from rice straw, each piece a temporal still in an attempt to make rope.


お祓いとは、ある土地を活用する前に、その土地に感謝を込め祈る宗教的な日本の伝統である。ケイト ヒルが日本とオーストラリアで手がけてきた、地元の土を、掘る、磨く、加工すること、ユージン ホワドが興味を示す、風景を何層にも描く事– 山梨県は北杜市のアーティストや、その友人により、地鎮祭において宗教的なお祓いを垣間みることができた。

 肥沃な畑の土、火山灰層の土、水田の土、六つの種類の土を採取する工程は、シリーズとして紙に描きマッピングされた。それぞれの土の種類は、稲穂から作られた作品に見受けられ、それは稲穂を使って縄を作る際に、用途に応じ使い分けることができた。

 田舎で生み出された作品、それを都市へと移すことで、土地の活用において二つの意味合いを持たせることが可能になった。それは、ある特定の地理的観点から見えてくる、建造と伝統、ということであった。

Text and translation written by Kate Hill:  http://www.kateehill.com/oharai
Video:  Eugene Howard

Oharai was made at Chemin du Bonheur Artist in Residence program, Yamanashi, Japan. Components of the work were shown as part of a group exhibition, 'First Thought, Best Thought' at SpaceSpace gallery, Tokyo, in July 2015. 

The below documentation shows a small exhibition held in Yamanashi at the completion of our collaborative residency. The paper works document the process of digging, after the Jichinsai/ceremony: each layer of earth was piled on a fresh piece of paper in a circle around the hole, the earth was then placed back in the order in which it was extracted after a small handful of workable clay was taken from the hole. These papers are stained with the colour of the shifting strata, poetically archiving the act the of digging earth and serving as a visual expression of geological time.