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A symbol of a new era. Ms. Keiko Koma talks about her “Mind-Scape Artworks.”

In 2006, Ms. Keiko Koma started to create an artwork, wishing to create something like a “thousand-stitch belt” so that peace would go back to Lebanon again where war was going on. This was the beginning of her “Mind-Scape Artworks.”
The “Mind-Scape Artwork” series which symbolizes peace, started from broaches, hand-dyed marbling costumes, small accessories, tableware, Venetian glass bead necklaces, leather bags with mind-scape paintings using coffee extracts, etc.  And from this year, several kinds of marbling curtains that are printed using digital printing technique are being created and many people are now decorating their homes with them. 

* “Thousand-stitch belt” is a Japanese tradition of sewing thousands and thousands of stitches every day, hoping that one’s most cherished person’s life will be safe and protected.
What led you to create marbling curtains?

Keiko Koma: One day, I envisioned that “a curtain will open up the future”, so I decorated an organdy fabric using lace and rhinestones. I remember hanging it in my house in Kyoto. Later on, I decided to create one with marbling, so I made a sample and replaced it. When I looked at the window in my house, I wished that the window side were a cosmic space. This was the feeling I had at the very beginning. There is no border between the marbling curtain and the space so no matter how small the room is, you feel an infinitely wide open space. It is indeed a cosmic space.

When there was an earthquake the other day (on 6th of September, centered in Ibaragi prefecture), Ms.Koma, you wrote in the web salon; “receiving a message from Great Being, I have realized that the time has come to escape from the life that is living on earth and transform into a life that is living in cosmic space.” You started the curtain business that represents cosmic space before gaining an authentic life, unified with space, anticipating that this time would come. I am amazed with this story… I heard that you are planning to have a mind-scape art exhibition, but is there a vision that you see specifically?

Keiko Koma: This morning, I felt that as long as I don’t set where to hold the exhibition in advance, the time wouldn’t come. The “divine message” that I describe as a message from space will appear like an aroma after I make a decision, so a new message will arrive soon, since I have decided to hold an exhibition next year, overseas. The time won’t come if I keep waiting, thinking that I will do it some day. The time will come when I clearly set the goal. I have experienced and realized at Master Idaki Shin’s concert the other day that when living unified with the universe, the divine messages that I see or hear will all be realized. They won’t be accomplished as long as I am living as an earthling. It is time for every one of us to escape from the mundane world and live with life, unified with cosmic space.

I heard that marbling artworks are created with no intentions, but only from an instant moment when light and water are encountered. What is the most important thing when creating these artworks?

Keiko Koma: Speed! Every time, the speed of dyeing it in a second is very important. An energy that I express as a “soul of nation-building” will suddenly blow through, floating like a wind. When that comes, I always sense a pattern that is historical. However, there is no time for me to be conscious of that energy while I am in the middle of the production process. But I know with my body that it is here now… When I was doing marbling on the terrace of the Tohoku center, a soul of Emishi suddenly appeared and a beautiful pale blue light was reflected on the artwork. When the energy of a soul comes, I can tell its existence with an aroma or wind, and I sense an infinitely clear, beautiful and pure soul. I catch that very moment deep down in my stomach and dye instantly, not to miss that moment. If I miss that single second, it won’t appear on the artwork, so it is a challenge for it to be done at that very moment.

You are doing marbling at several places these days such as the courtyard of Koma Gallery Café at Yasaka (Kyoto), an atelier on Mt. Hiei, Tohoku center at Morioka (Iwate prefecture), and Musashiseki in Tokyo as well. Do you plan beforehand where or when you will do it?

Keiko Koma: I don’t plan it in advance but there is a certain “time”, when I am shown as a divine message that the artworks should be exhibited on that specific day, so I make the decision exactly as I see. I perceive that the artwork that I envision is indeed the symbol of a new era. For example, while I was staying at Sendai recently, I went to the department store to purchase blouses to dye, asked the Idaki counseling course participant in Sendai to wash them before marbling, bring them to Morioka the next day, and dyed them on the night of the Idaki applied course at Tohoku center. The next morning, I decorated them with rhinestones, came back to Tokyo, and on the next morning, I asked people to sew the rhinestones and iron them to be prepared at Skyrocket center, and then the artworks were done. In the afternoon, I was able to display them to the guests who participated in the lecture. I traveled to three locations in four days, and the artworks were completed and exhibited. I was happy that it was made possible by the support of all the staff who were involved, but to tell the truth, since there wasn’t enough time, I thought several times that it was not possible, so I should stop the process. If I miss the day that I envision, there’s no meaning to exhibiting it, so I even thought that I shouldn’t display it afterwards either. For me, this kind of process and result is “taking the initiative and winning the battle” in the invisible world. I am intently creating artworks just wishing to create a better world, so if I can represent the new world that has been manifested in a visible shape, I feel that I can “win” for sure, so I should never miss the “time.” I can’t tell what “displaying a symbol of the new era” would be in the age of war in the old days, but I can tell what the exact moment of taking the initiative “now!” would be, for kings of Koguryo who were able to foresee the future. We are not living in the age of war now so there’s no battles, but I don’t want to miss this specific timing and create artworks that never existed in the past before and create a path to win the battle.

Is it like raising a flag, if you describe it as in the age of war?

Keiko Koma: Yes. To practice it on the day I envisioned, is to take an initiative in a correct way. I am going to create new Venetian glass beads necklaces today, but I just want to create them so much. I feel that the energy of a soul fills space now. It is a necklace that allows one to take a leap into the cosmic-space.

Your mind-scape artworks began from an idea of creating something like a “thousand-stitch belt”, wishing for peace in Lebanon. Did you have any prediction or anticipation of creating these kinds of art?

Keiko Koma: I had never imagined it before. But I had a feeling that I wanted to actually create what I envision. For example, when I used to go to church when I was 19 years old, I used to decorate the Bible cover with embroidery and gave it to my friends as a gift. The stitches and the color were all different depending on who I gave it to. I could see the shape of the light of the lives of the trees, flowers and all living things. Back then, I’m not sure if I was seeing the internality of each person whom I gave the gift to, but I did have an intention that I wanted to express precisely the shape of light that I could see. I used to stitch embroidery and knit since I was small, and I wanted to set the color of the machine knitted pieces by myself and create the pattern exactly as I saw. I have an elder cousin who was born on the same day as I was born, 13th of May. She won a prize for design when she was a student and went abroad to study. After she came back to Japan, she opened a dressmaking school. She always made clothes for me, so I always liked unique clothes.

At the Yui-kobo salon last month, I heard that you wish to create clothes that have never been created before using a draping technique. May I ask about your vision more specifically?

Keiko Koma: For example, “Wind of Phoenicia” (the marbling dress created based on the dress designed by Mr. Ghazi, a professor at the Faculty of Art at Lebanon University) and some of the shirts are designed and created as an original collection line of the Keiko Koma brand, but other blouses and clothing are made by dyeing ready-made products. The clothes created from marbling fabric are still only few, and I actually want to create by draping fabric exactly as I see. I consider that clothes that we are wearing today are born in a Western country and basically created on the basis of what someone made up, so I feel restricted and not free if I have to follow this sort of idea that clothes have to be this way, or need to be created by this certain procedure. But if I can just ignore all the existing patterns and drape it exactly as I see, it is very much fun and exciting. And if something completely new will be born, the balance of the existing world will already be changed.

My only wish is world peace. An artwork that manifests the true “internality” or “cosmic space” is completely different from this world and has never existed before. So in the process of heading forward to realize peace, I believe that to continue creating these artworks will definitely change the world and that peace will be realized for sure. Because I can visualize this, I have a strong spirit to continue to create until it is achieved.

(Interview conducted and edited by Yukari Iwamura)