AM: You seem to not be overly tied to a style or medium; rather your concept informs the choice of medium - whether works on paper, sculpture, photography, installation. Can you talk about how you approach the process of material and how you reach decisions about realizing ideas through objects?
RK: In my creative process, I go back and forth between concept, intuition, and visual/formal aesthetic. What comes first is always different. Sometimes I have a clear idea of what my concept will be for a piece. In this case I choose material that best suits that specific concept. This is probably part of why I have never been a material-specific maker. Some other times the material or objects “find” me. When they do, I start making work based on my intuition and what looks/feels right to me. Even when I work this way, though, the finished work eventually tells me something about myself and/or my surroundings. I believe that whatever an artist makes, regardless of their level of knowledge about their work, always reflects the maker. In my case, when I start without any set of ideas, I learn a lot more. It gives me curiosity and openness in the making process. Other times, the choice of material is a subconscious response or reaction to the previous work. When I work on a heavy, solid sculpture with sharp edges for a while, for example, my next work will more likely be soft, light and curvy. I have to switch things around to keep myself interested in what I make. Lastly, I simply enjoy visual aesthetics in my everyday life. I like the abstraction in colors, shapes, and textures. So that naturally informs my decisions too.
AM: If you walk around and study the images present in then, you begin to see the recurring images, the echoing of pictures within pictures. After a while if feels as though the specific reality of the places being photographed becomes confused through deliberate displacement. It seems that you want to catalog memory and space yet distance yourself from them at the same time?
RK: I titled this show then because to me the word “then” is neither specific to past or future. Depending on how one uses it, it can mean past (“back then”) or leading to the future (“..then,…”), but never the present. The show is like that. I used images of apartments from my recent past. By encasing the photographs in frames, I attempted to make them something of memory that has long past, which has yet to come and will happen in the future. In the last two years, my life has been filled with rapid transitions both in terms of physical locations and life situations. This show is about internal discrepancy between past, present and future. My hope is that the audience will look around The Living Room enough to find the repetition and find themselves feel somewhat dislocated.
AM: You found most of the frames for these photographs in thrift stores, right? Can you talk about the significance of them?
RK: I found putting my own photograph in a used frame - with its previous photograph unknown - similar to putting myself in a rented apartment with an unknown history. In most frames I kept whatever came with the frames intact, behind my photographs. Also, I specifically selected cheap and old frames to create the sense of photographs belonging to a distant past.
AM: You have a lot of friends and family in Japan…I hope they’re all right? Has the massive scale of loss over there had an effect on your relation to the images and the aspect of forced memory in then?
RK: Ironically, the earthquake hit Japan on the night of my opening for this show. It was strange how I got to see all of my Japanese friends (which are few) that night. I have many friends and relatives in Tokyo, but the damage from the earthquake there wasn’t severe, so they were OK. My parents live in Kyoto, which is in the west, so they weren’t affected at all. However, all Japanese - regardless of where we live - are affected by this disaster as many others are around the world. It’s difficult for many of us to have so little we can do to help. As for the relation to the works in then, I haven’t had time to reflect on it. But I think about the many who lost their houses in the tsunami along with their belongings and photographs, the physical memories, I think about the identity we attach to our living spaces and locations….thank you for asking.
(Rumi Koshino’s work is now hanging at The Living Room, through April 9th. Due to a nasty bout of the flu, I was unable to conduct the interview before the opening. Thank you, Rumi, for your patience!)