Friday, July 18, 2008

Winding Down


Madeleine's Picture of the Family
at MotoUjina National Park in Hiroshima
(the Island of Ninoshima is in the background,
where quarantined horses and soldiers -
and later bomb orphans - were sent and in 1971,
A-bombed objects and bones were unearthed.)

Today she shopped all day: buying boxes of chocolates for the YMCA teachers; beautiful "Made in Japan" gifts for Lucy; poster tubes for shipping her rubbings-drawings back home; wooden serving spoons, a butter dish, a sea salt pot, sea salt to put in it; traditional Japanese pajamas for her father; two rolls of decorative masking tape. She feels in a bit of a frenzy, leaving in little over a week, as if she must take every bit of Japan home with her that she can manage. She has been packing up boxes to ship home: art books on Ishiuchi Miyako and Yayoi Kusama; books about Hiroshima; new and used clothing; Buddhas; a plasma light and nightlight; kids' drawings; tourist paraphernalia; shoes; leaves and bark from A-bombed trees.

She took Kahori and Mari out to lunch today in gratitude of all their help at the Peace Memorial Museum. She took them to a traditional Japanese restaurant that translates as Moonlight. Neither of them had been there before for food. This was her third time and it was delicious, again: a small bowl of sashimi with a sheiso leaf and spun radish, wasabi and purple seaweed pods; a bowl of hearty rice over which she poured another bowl of gelatinous root; a bowl of pickled sardines in broth; lovely okra, shrimp, bean and squash tempura; a dish of seaweed salad; small green salad with ginger dressing; miso soup and ice tea. They all had the same thing and talked about boyfriends, work and dreams. Kahori wants to go work in Africa with children some day. They both love working at the Peace Museum. They both made her feel so happy and good, said they would miss her and that they had such fun with her. She will miss them too and plans to send them gifts from the states, including a print of the Workers Dreaming that she took of Mari holding a melted A-bomb bottle.

Earlier that day, in the sweltering heat of July that feels as if you are moving closer to the sun with each step, she walked around with Brenda who showed her the most fabulous 5-story kitchenware store - full of gorgeous Japanese dishes, chopsticks, vases, cloths, silverware, and more. She hopes to convince David into shipping some assorted sets home - 8 big plates, 8 bowls, 8 small plates. They are so lovely - metallic grey, floating pink flowers, brushstrokes of blue in a sea of white, ceramic spirals and black orbs.

She is still waiting to see the x-rays, anxious about them being sent to the right place and being processed correctly. She hopes to get them back next week. She expects they will be "blank" but perhaps there will be something there? She is excited to show the cyanotypes of A-bombed objects and leaves and bark and flower heads to everyone - friends, curators, gallerists, family. She loves them and wishes she could do hundreds. Maybe she will return some day to do more. Packing up the rubbings today she realizes she has quite a lot of them. She is eager to get into the darkroom to use them as large paper negatives and to print photographs from the black and white Mamiya negatives and to make digital prints. She feels as if she has just begun working and now they have to go. Maybe that is the best time to leave.

David is out with his colleagues after his second successful presentation on his work here. She is always amazed at his disciplined work ethic, his critical genius, the way he stays calm and focused, even in a very tense professional situation. He has been invited to return here to do more research and this is both a compliment to him and his negotiating skills and personality and a comfort to her, knowing they can return some day.

She needs to finish a 600 word review of Ishiuchi Miyako's show for Art Papers by July 22. She has written twice that and has a hard time editing. There is so much she wants to say about that work.



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