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MAT Exhibition vol.3
Yoshinori Niwa
"Against Name"
Review | Eiji Shimmi


– And when the air was clear and he could speak again she taught him the true name of the falcon, to which the falcon must come.
(A Wizard of Earthsea, Earthsea Cycle, #1)

Niwa is struggling again. He always gets messed up and struggles after blindly rushing into something that drew his attention. Clumsy indeed, but that’s who he is.
He struggles so hard again in the project Selling the rights to name a pile of garbage that he even says it would “be of benefit to the community”. Referring to “how effective art could be” is such a sensitive and dangerous thing to do, especially when it’s told from the artist’s side – as to revealing inside stories could ruin the system of art- but he shows it all in the work. It surely was thrilling and made a vivid impression on my mind first.

Let’s go back to the title “Against Name”- it doesn’t tell who is against what about name. If I were against something, it would be the massive power that a name could possess.
As it was written on the handout by the artist available in the gallery, in terms of living in the modern controlled society, when something is unnamed it doesn’t exist in the social context.

Steven Pinker describes the impact of knowing a name in his book “The Language Instinct”, by referring to an encounter between Schaller, a sign language interpreter and Ildefonso, a 27 year-old deaf man who had never been taught any languages. “In an epiphany reminiscent of the story of Helen Keller, Ildefonso grasped the principle of naming when Schaller tried to teach him the sign for ‘cat’. A dam burst, and he demanded to be shown all the signs for all the objects he was familiar with. Soon he was able to convey Schaller a part of his life story.”

How did we all start naming things originally? Let’s just imagine ancient people- under calm weather and wealthy food supply, it wouldn’t have been necessary to name things in details. When you are desperate to survive, suffering from hunger in cold weather, you need to work on a target with a group of people, perhaps moaning to each other trying to express “me” “you” “there” “here” to begin with. Once something gets named, everything gets named one after another to become sentences, to become language eventually.
We have invented uncountable names up until the present day. Names produced numerous systems such as wars, politics, money, and of course art is one of them.
It seems to me that Niwa keeps struggling in those various gigantic systems.

Eiji Shimmi

Co-director of Parlwr