SMALL VAN ARTIST RESIDENCY FOR NON-ARTISTS
This fictional, invitational caravan based residency is at Quantong on the Wimmera River, NW Victoria, Australia where Anthony Pelchen lives and works. Time and space is offered to individuals who don't identify as artists but play out curious, creative acts in their everyday.
From Sept 2020: Hiroshi 'Kanazawa Jack' Yoshida
Signals From the Dark
Hiroshi is from Kanazawa city in the Ishikawa Prefecture of Japan and for 37 years worked for the Kanazawa Road Control Department. His flair with the LED signal became quite legendary within the Department and the city community generally, so Hiroshi has become known as 'Kanazawa Jack'.
In 2014 while visiting Japan, Anthony witnessed Jack in action and the idea for the residency was seeded. A collaborative project is planned, bringing together Anthony's obsession with drawing at night and Jack's LED light 'choreographic' ways.
Over the months, Hiroshi will essentially 'play' with the potential of working together in this very different environment, particularly responding to the lunar cycles of Full and New Moon. He talks of an immersive time, "away from family and Japanese Culture, allowing my body and light wand to respond in whatever direction it is pulled - perhaps it will be some sort of melt down of the rigid, rule based road work signalling I did for so long, my years of Calligraphy study and how I will feel this new land...the wind, trees, river and the birds".
Sepember 26, 2020
Hiroshi 'Kanazawa Jack' Yoshida, Kanazawa City, Japan 2014
28 September 2020: I'm very happy that HIROSHI YOSHIDA has safely arrived from Japan and will be taking up the first SMALL VAN ARTIST RESIDENCY FOR NON-ARTISTS. We've been planning this for years and I'm looking forward to working with Jack over the months, supporting his LIGHT SIGNALS FROM THE DARK project. Jack is a former road worker from Kanazawa City, famously known for his flair with the LED wand and called KANAZAWA JACK by the locals.
October 1, 2020: Great to see Hiroshi Yoshida out of the van last night - tired from the travel but keen to start moving. He's open to going to the river tonight for Full Moon but has asked I build him a small platform. He's feeling overwhelmed at being out of Japan and his city - yesterday kept saying "do inake"...apparently means 'too much countryside'. Karin's been coaching him to relax.
October 2, 2020: I'm glad to see Hiroshi out exercising at sunrise now. He likes the natural amphitheater in the sand dune nearby and seems to combine Japanese Butoh with Tai Chi. He said he's also responding to the early morning gargling of the Magpies, which is odd to watch. He's definitely loosening up though and last night had a big session at the Van. Looking forward to what happens at the river tonight for Full Moon.
October 4, 2020: Coming down from the late Full Moon river performances, Jack and I ate the mushrooms we found. Then friend Rod called and told us of his encounter with a 2m Brown Snake at the Nurrabiel Cemetery. Wonderful and curious then to see Jack on fire again last night with more signals from the river. Previously he stayed on the platform but this time kind of ran and danced around the signals.
October 17, 2020: Jack suggested he help me move the big Agave for the New Moon tonight. I hooked on the chain and he drove the ute. As my father would have said, he “bogged it to the ass”. Japanese pride is very particular, so there was a desperate frenzy to right things...to perform his wacky, honoring process from his days with the Kanazawa City Council Roads Department – ‘Kowareta Kuruma’, or ‘Broken Car’ ritual. This went on for hours into the dark. This morning I dug out the ute...Jack is still in bed.
October 30, 2020: Jack’s keen to perform at another spot on the river tonight for Full Moon but has been spooked by the snake tracks in the sand outside his caravan. He’s still in bed but I see he’s raked last night, to detect any snake activity. For days he’s again been saying “do inake”…’too much countryside’ and had me install a tarp-based replica of his favorite Kanazawa city T-intersection (corner of Ohori and Honda dori), with an elevated platform. Said he’ll feel more safe and comfortable.
October 30, 2020: Jack did an hour of LWR’s (Light Wand Routines) across the makeshift, tarp-based T-Intersection then stepped up on the maroon velvet platform, just as an owl started up. He was still and silent for a few minutes then floored me with a very decisive, left-handed, text based piece. On the way back in the ute, Jack explained he saw a small Red Gum that had been hacked with an axe. He quietly repeated “ki ga kirarete kanashii ! ”…I think it means ‘the tree was cut and sad’.
October 31, 2020: I was wondering if Jack would do more text based, left handed confessional signs last night and was happy when he broke out with this quite lyrical, right-handed free-form piece. We’d repaired the partly axed Red Gum and he was clearly more buoyant than on Friday night. He said although he’s been a city man, he feels despair about the often disregard for nature…but is hopeful that the new generation will save the world (I didn’t tell him that it was two young boys who hacked into the tree with an axe).
November 7, 2020: Jack knocked on my door last night and said he wanted to “call the election!”. I was confused but then realized what he was talking about. Because of Japan/America relations, he’s very happy that Donald Trump will go. Curiously, he wanted to call it in the outside hot bath, so I fired it up and left him to it. In Jack’s usual methodical, almost ritualistic way he performed what he calls the ‘barrel’. He explained how he loves Marty Robbin’s Gun Fighting Ballads album and it’s been on his mind…and how Donald is staring down the barrel of a gun. Jack never ceases to amaze me.
Novemer 15, 2020: Jack was pretty flat yesterday morning and spoke of his disappointment in not being able to take part in the Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony. With the temperature hitting 34° C, he spent the afternoon doing Tai Chi at the river and took up my suggestion to perform his ‘Full Fan’ here instead…for the New Moon. So glad he went with the idea and damn special to see him pull off a near perfect one before his bath. He’s now keen to do an Olympic Lament series.
September 27, 2020: Jack’s been keen to make a Performance Art Video (PAV) and discussed doing something more serious, considered and controversial. I explained there was no need…that he just do a rudimentary, domestic act and we’d make Art by slowing it down. Settling on him pretending to convert a pallet into a decking, I waited 2 hrs until he’d almost finished and then took some footage ... just as a storm rolled over. He’s fired up by his first PAV and the decking looks good outside the Van (thanks Karin for assisting Jack with iMovie).
December 1, 2020: Jack decided to let Performance Art Video (PAV) go and get back to a photographic capture of the moment. He’s been fascinated by the loud, almost mournful squawk of the local Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos, which cruise past his Caravan real low and often just before rain. I was hoping for some sort of visual interpretation for the Full Moon last night but he performed what he declared was ‘The Rooster’ instead and then had his bath. I never quite know with Jack.
December 16, 2020: I’ve seen little of Jack over the last week, so was pleased he was back at the river platform last night for the New Moon. He drew small forms he calls ‘Puppies’ and chased them around. It was strange to watch but I’m glad he’s more buoyant. Not expecting him to surface from the Van until late.
1 Januaray, 2021: Jack and the old Rodeo ute returned from Melbourne late yesterday pretty freaked out. He had ‘traffic management’ issues in Richmond then ran out of the NGV Triennial …’Disneyland tsunami’ he said. Stuck then on the West Gate Bridge for an hour and missing the Ballarat turnoff, he said ‘strong mental health issues were coming’. The ute went straight to the river and I saw a lot of red flashing light. Jack’s in bed this morning but left a note “OWATTA!” (finished). Hope he’s up for a new year’s coffee later (a big year).
14 February, 2021: Jack arrived back from his ute road trip late Friday night, just before lock down. I’m blown away that he’s returned with someone I’ve known but haven’t seen for years, Blanko Putanseska. Incredible really, Jack was in the top bunk and Blanko in the bottom at the Port Fairy Back Packers. I wouldn’t have thought it likely but they seem to hit it off … Jack is happier. Blanko was a Prawn Fisherman but after a leg injury is working at Harvey Norman. With the rolling lockdowns, he and Jack are planning to collaborate. It looks like the Van’s at full capacity for a while.
February 15, 2021: Jack's been out scouting for fallen, medium size monuments with Blanco on the chainsaw. It seems they have a plan.
16 February, 2021: Jack was in the paddock until late last night to honor my very dear friend and artist Ben Leslie, who died too early, one year ago. ‘Nande’ says Jack…I say: why? Jack dragged and resurrected the fallen tree and declared there’ll be alternate night signals for the next two weeks...Blanco may assist. Miss you Benee.
February 18, 2021: Jack said being in the paddock last night with the lingering heat, under the massive clear night sky and the stars, felt quite incredible. He was out there for hours and again gave a salute to my good friend, Ben Leslie.
February 20. 2021: Jack spent yesterday listening to a podcast on how to trade safely during a period of increased market volatility. I think this, plus the mosquito bites and the pretty intense, dry Wimmera heat has affected him. I applied a thick paste of corn flour and apple cider vinegar to the bites and he’s insisted leaving it on, also impacting his movement...and mood. Regardless, he was out in the paddock again last night. Another one for Ben.
February 22, 2021: Blanco’s been keen to collaborate and last night Jack said yes, but I think he meant no. With just the one light wand, Blanco used Gaffa and there wasn’t much said after ...but Jack shared the remainder of his Cornflour and Apple Cider Vinegar paste with Blanco.
February 24, 2021: Jack said yes again to collaborating and suggested to Blanco he come up with a new performance idea. In the end, Jack did his thing on his side of the tree and left Blanco to what felt comfortable.
February 26, 2021: There was a slight cool wind last night, so Blanco didn’t perform. Jack seemed more relaxed, heading out early and practiced Boketto (gazing vacantly into the distance without a thought). On dark, he signed out with a single action and returned to the Van…an early night.
February 27, 2021: Really good to see Jack and Blanco happy again. Their attempt at collaboration didn't really work and things were tense... glad the idea has been scrapped. Blanko's due back at Harvey Norman and Jack's keen to be alone under today's Full Moon. He talks of ritualizing the fine line between joy and grief, appropriate for anniversaries... Ben's for me and soon Fukushima's for Jack.
March 11. 2021: Jack missed the Full Moon as he was caught up helping me finish a large painting. He's been anticipating today’s anniversary of Fukushima though and last night spent time in the paddock. He said there was barely a tremor in Kanazawa that day, eleven years ago, but remembers the TV footage of the wall of water, washing over parts of the east coast of Honshu…waves up to 39 metres. Seismic on a heart level for the whole country.
March 12, 2021: Jack has injured his shoulder and will likely be on extended leave. I wish him well and hope to see him back in action as soon as possible.
April 4th, 2021: I was surprised but very happy to see Jack out in the paddock again last night. Given his shoulder injury, I wondered if the residency was over. He has been laying very low in the Van but has taken up my suggestion to rise again and focus on what he still can do. At dawn yesterday he headed off for the Jeparit Fishing Competition, returning on dusk to deliver this left handed, pared back but ambitious piece. Jack’s resilience is inspiring and I wish him well for a good recovery. Hope he’ll stay on.
May 29th, 2021: I spoke with Jack about releasing his right arm. He over-reacted to the shoulder injury sustained during his ambitious Tsunami Signal on March 11th, bubble-wrapping and Gaffa taping the arm to his chest and back. He came back from Horsham upset at how people were staring at him in Aldi’s and I think it’s been more of a handicap than help. Really pleased to see him back at the river platform last night, freed up and keen to give the left hand another go. Sadly though he just stood there, frozen, then drove back to the Van and went to bed. I suspect with support he can bounce back and signal with his left hand…like there’s no tomorrow.
May 30, 2021: Karin and I treated Jack yesterday with a breakfast of green tea, miso soup, raw egg with Natto then a hand ground decaf with dark chocolate. By lunch time he was spirited again and talking positively about signally his family back in Japan. The potential of the human spirit is quite incredible… Jack returned to the river and performed a radiant, Olympic quality, free-form circular set. Go for Gold Jack.
July 4, 2021: Jack had his shoulder surgery and was discharged from the RMH with his Compression Stockings, Anti-Slip Socks and strap-on pneumatic Foot Pumps as a gift from the nurses. Blissed out with the regime of pain medication, Jack was even polite to the Indian man who kindly text and called him to indicate he was about to be PayPal hacked $1300 but he’d assist if Jack passed on his bank account name and number. Jack thanked Kevin James, apparently calling from Sydney CBD, and relayed the Product Code off his Covidien pneumatic slippers and that he could feel post-op nausea and vomiting coming on. I'm hoping Jack will be able to signal from the dark again soon.
August 6, 2021: Jack has barely emerged from the Van since the shoulder injury and I’ve been concerned that Hikikomori was kicking in again… he’d hoped the residency here was a way out of it. I could hear Dan Andrews on his radio loud yesterday afternoon and movement on dark … then there was flashing light down at the the Air Asia River Platform. Jack returned sombre but I think kind of grounded, mumbling watashitachiha issho ni kore ni imasu … akirameruna (we’re in this together…don’t give up).
August 24, 2021: I thought Jack's last signal down at the river 18 days ago was a positive sign he was over his hikikomori. I remain hopeful but have barely seen him out of the Van since. I fired up the hot bath last night and put on Marty Robbins ' Gunfighting Ballads and Trail Songs', his favourite, but still no movement. I'm not sure what to try next.
September 11, 2021: I could feel something building over recent days and almost smell that Jack was going to activate the Air Asia River Platform last night. Real pleased to see him more confident in using his right arm and shoulder again. It seems his morning rehab exercises and free form dancing in the sand near the Van are paying off
March 21, 2022: Jack’s Friday full moon collaboration with three women was postponed, so I made him a maroon velvet gown. It seemed to lift his mood but everything crashed the next morning at the river. Half undressed to swim, he heard three shotgun blasts and saw a beautiful Wood Duck plummet into the water. It momentarily thrashed around then drowned just metres away. A bloke appeared with gun and retriever dog on the other side and waved. Jack was silent, stripped off and walked into the water, repeating ‘watashi wa rikai dekimasen’ (I cannot understand).
June 26, 2022: Jack's been down so I invited him to Fowlers Gap Research Station, north of Broken Hill in Wiljaali Country. We'd barely arrived and there was a Management call relaying that a domestic cat was spotted in the compound. Jack worried that it had somehow attached itself to the Volvo, maybe on getting the takeaway coffees at Ouyen. Luckily the Supermoon was kicking in and Jack soon shifted focus to his planned midnight Arid Zone Signalling session.
June 28, 2022: Jack's had trouble with motivation over the last months so it was encouraging to see him back on for the June Supermoon at Fowlers Gap... I heard him arrive back at the house around 2am. I've been suggesting that when the malaise sets in to bypass thinking, wait until dark, put on overalls, shoes, helmet, safety glasses and mask, grab the wand, check the batteries then walk somewhere.
18 January, 2023: It was great to see Jack again yesterday and have a cool green tea together in the shack … it was a 40 C stinker in the Wimmera. He stayed away and has been quiet after our Fowlers Gap arid zone trip last June. While struggling with post covid brain fog, he’s steadily getting on and is keen to resume the residency. We’ve agreed on a new framework and a different set of parameters, which will hopefully work for both of us through 2023. Looking forward to working with you again Jack.
1 October, 2023: I am very happy to have Jack back after our rough patch. He drove up the track in the old rodeo ute just on dusk for the Super Moon and headed straight to the paddock near the river, Barringgi Gadyin. I’m hoping he will stay longer this time.
Oct 11, 2023: Jack has been coaching me how to signal but I’m a work in progress. Thanks Jack for your patience.
Oct 15: Jack listened to the news updates on his Van radio yesterday and then walked to the river paddock to signal again. This morning he's been low key and keeps saying watashi wa totemo kanashii desu. He is very sad.