When I was asked to do this solo show in Paris, I was truly delighted.
It’s a launching pad for my work overseas. An exhibition that marks my global debut.
In music, I’ve been active to date as an independent singer-songwriter.
As ART-MAI, I’ve played across Japan, mostly in the Tokyo area. Besides playing under my solo name, I’ve also performed on stage with a choir at the Tokyo International Forum and Billboard, and I was commissioned by sporting-goods company Mizuno to write the theme song for a marathon supporting reconstruction after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. I sing about life and love.
Now, as a photographer, before I’ve even had a solo show in Japan, I’ve achieved my dream of having one overseas! I’ve always wanted to play a part in connecting Japan with the world, and now that wish has come true.
This is the other side of me: ART-MAI the photographer. I’m combining my two abilities, photography and music, and I’ve even written a song for this exhibition that connects Japan and France!
I aim to make art that people can appreciate visually and aurally, by viewing my photos and listening to my songs. I want to appeal to the different senses. It’s with this mind that I created the work now on display. The idea is to express myself in a unique way.
I wrote the new song based on the themes of ennui and sakura (cherry blossom), a Japanese symbol recognized by everyone around the world. There are no sakura in the photos, but the melody is imbued with their fleeting nature, the mesmerizing effect they have on us during the cherry-blossom season, and the ephemerality of the moment when their petals fall and scatter.
In French, “ennui” means “melancholy.” But the Japanese loanword taken from it, annyui, signifies “mystical” or “mysterious.” When we use the word in Japanese, it therefore often has a positive connotation. Ennui ≠ annyui.
Today, when the pandemic and conflict are part of our reality, photography, music, and words bring us closer together in spirit. Even if I can’t communicate through language, I want to create an intimate connection with others through feelings. I seek to express myself, so that I can touch someone’s heart. I hope that my artistic expression, my music, my songs, which are deeply personal to me, will touch you.
Even if it only makes a small difference, my aim is to inspire society by passionately making art that express the feelings that matter to me, in the hope of putting a smile on people’s faces and bringing us all closer together.
Love and peace always,