Craig Walsh on His Astounding 2013 Setouchi Triennale Project, Pt.1

"Traces Blue" by Craig Walsh and Hiromi Tango
(Courtesy Craig Walsh)


Australian artists Craig Walsh and Hiromi Tango have created an amazing installation for the 2013 Setouchi Triennale that has to be seen to be believed. Developed in conjunction with the people of Teshima Island, Japan, “Traces Blue” is a multi-faceted portrait of the Island and its residents.

Described by Walsh as a “mixed media, site responsive intervention in collaboration with the village of Kou and communities across Teshima Island,” the feature of the multi-faced project is a surreal mirrored fishing boat that is tethered to the shore by a series of community-made ropes.

There are several other facets to the installation but the best person to explain the different elements is the artist himself, Craig Walsh, who ARTINFO Australia had the privilege of interviewing. In part one of this two-part interview, Walsh explains the background of the project and describes the different elements.

How did you come to be involved with the Setouchi Triennale?

Initial contact was an invitation of interest from The Australian Embassy in Japan. It isn't always clear how involvement come about in such a monumental event but we made a site visit last July and presented a preliminary proposal based on that site visit. On meeting with Fram Kitagawa, the artistic director, he informed us that he had curated us into the project.

What led to the development of “Traces Blue”?

As stated, we conducted a three day site visit which allowed us not only to gain a greater awareness of the place and meet members of the community in the village of Kou, but visit the other islands and take in some of the extraordinary permanent projects scattered throughout the Seto Sea. We were interested in further pursuing our recent collaborative work which aims to straddle community collaboration, contemporary art, and site responsiveness. It was the right fit for the objectives of the Setouchi Triennial.

The recent 18 month project, Digital Odyssey,” a Museum of Contemporary Art touring project across Australia, had provided the opportunity for Hiromi and I to develop processes to generate this type of work. The most recent collaboration was with the people of Gwangju for the Gwangju Biennale.  Specifically, the research carried out and conversations with locals gave an impression of the current state of the village and many of the islands in this region.

We were inspired by two disused and decommissioned fishing boats in the local harbour, which as objects, were in themselves reflective of the current changing conditions affecting the village. To generate a project responsive to these objects was the starting point. All that followed, mirroring the boat, the collective sculpture responding to ROPE,” installation in the abandoned house, video artworks, photography, and projections formed as a response to these objects and collectively provide a portrait of the village of Kou and their economic, historical and cultural connections to the sea.

Describe the “Traces Blue” project

A mixed media, site responsive intervention in collaboration with the village of Kou and communities across Teshima Island. The work consists of:

—An existing fishing boat which has been encased in mirrored perspex and positioned back in its original position.  

—A community generated artwork and performance with Hiromi created by the people of Kou in response to the mirrored boat.

—Workshops to create a collective sculpture generated by Hiromi with contributions from individuals and school groups across Teshima Island.

—An 8 minute loop, 3 channel synchronised video work where the mirrored boat, adrift at sea, passes through the three monitor spaces.

—A suite of 5 photographs, developed out of the community performance.

—A 12 minute loop, video projection onto a timber door featuring 5 local fisherman comment on their relationship to ROPE and their relationship to the sea.

Click the slideshow to see images of Walsh and Tango's “Traces Blue”