28 November 2007

Made in Japan

Letter to Shigeyo Ricci
Dear Shigeyo,
it has been more than 17 years since the last time I saw you.
As we left for Japan at the beginning of November I was very curious and happy to finally see what some people call the most different country of all countries.
The Sunday we arrived in Japan I was instantly confronted with the image I had of your country and what I was looking at. I realized how little I knew about it. As a very very young girl I remember not being able to put China and Japan apart, their flags, their size, I didn't know their differences. Later as I learned to read I was not so sure what it meant: Made in Hong Kong, Made in Taiwan, Made in China, Made in Korea or Made in Japan, they were all far away places in Asia and these were the possible choices that all my toys would have printed somewhere on a hidden place.

My other important source of imagery and memories of Japan was the television program I saw as girl in Mexico, it was called Senorita Cometa and I would sit in front of the television around 4 o'clock, just after the 'comida' to watch it. Senorita Cometa was beautiful, with extremely short hair, wore a very short A form dress and she had some kind of magic but also had a very earthly job that was to take care of two boys about my age: Takeshi and Kogi. One of them was rather fat specially if you are talking of a TV series in the late '60s, the other one I found him rather cute. My image of Japanese every day life come from this program. They had many things just like us and only very few things I remember them as special, maybe some architecture features and a few things they did. I was always very conscious that this was a Japanese series, and what it surprised me the most was the freedom and independence of Comet San herself. She had doubts, but at the end she knew what she was doing but as I vaguely remember she was also often punished for her choice of actions. (The whole week in Japan I thought of this program just to find later as I came back that it was an extremely popular series specially in Mexico, probably even more than in Japan...)

In the '80s came the information of the economically booming Japan, the incredible thin Casio calculator my sister got as present and I was very jealous of (actually, I didn't know specifically that it was Japanese), and a few American movies portraying stupid and harsh second world war soldiers. Later I had a rather clear image of the funny girls dressed as dolls, the news on the magazines of incredible fetish men, cherry blossom fans, group of Japanese tourists taking lots of photographs (as now everybody does).

I also remember very clear the first day I ate sushi, December 1986 in New York city, but this was not really a Japanese experience it was more like trying all the different kind of food, most of them out of their context as my first kiwi or my my first salmon and cheese cream bagel, also for the first time in the USA.
On the other hand your Japanese presence had never left me. In a way your soft and quiet way of talking makes me remember clearly the conversations I had with you. You were a perfect colleague as we were giving each other comments on our ceramic works. Talking about balance, lift, weight, natural look of the clay, all these things had stayed in my mind, but as I walked in Tokyo I started understanding you a lot better. It was also through you that I knew first of the older style of ceramics from the Kofun-period.

In fact as I saw some of their examples I felt I was directly hearing you explaining them to me as you did when we were at the library of the Sir John Cass in London. I think often of you but I had never missed you as much as when I was in you country. Even though you were not physically there you were my guide every day, specially as I remember your serenity and elegance.

Eating at a restaurant and being offered different plates -in color, texture, material, impression- with each dish I ordered was in first instance an impression of chaos. The apparent incoherent or at random choice of plates has actually an intricate and traditionally organized pattern, that I came to notice as the days went by and I ate in different places, also as I saw the ceramic shops or ceramic markets where Japanese people are absolute devotees and it seemed to me that they would spend any money on that special plate or bowl they discover. Luckily I was able to appreciate and enjoy all the different ceramic techniques thanks to my art observations and ceramic studies I've had. You can only realize this order as you see more examples of it. And again all the memories of your appreciation of ceramics came very handy.

There is more to tell you. To be continued.
Comet san, Kometto-san (SeƱorita Cometa) created between 1967 and 1968 by Japan Tokyo Broadcast Corporation (TBS). They are 79 chapters. And was translated to Spanish and transmitted to Latinamerica in the '70s.
Except Comet san photographs all photo's are mine.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Marisa,
My husband discovered your letter to me written in 2007 while browsing through my file ( he was curious whether the local newspaper still had an article on my work from years ago ). He came out to the garden where I was clipping branches asking whether I knew
Marisa Polin. Of course. I often think of you....especially when I think of Marino Marini
and Max Beckman. Miss those conversations we had while at John Cass.

I feel totally flattered by discovering the letter addressed to me after so many years of no communication. Almost as good as some of the novels I read. Anyway, I am responding to it now hoping you'd excuse my tardiness since I had no knowledge of it until yesterday.

And I won't make it long since I am uncertain of it successfully received by you. I feel the
chance of our reestablishing the communication is only slightly better than a letter in a bottle.........but, hope it'll arrive at the right shore and your being there to pick it up.

Thank you for the letter....and, thank you for remembering me.
shigeyo ricci