Expulsion from the Garden of Eden (2015)
Single screen video with sound
14 mins 33 seconds
Assuming a Western artist’s ‘outsider’ perspective in Japan, Beppu’s ‘Mixed Bathing World’ can be seen as a form of ideal, utopian innocence about the body within a communal space. Chodzko maps these perspectives onto the differences between two found postcards (one bought in Henrico, Virginia, USA the other from Tampa Florida, USA).
Both postcards are based on the same source photograph from 1963, showing a group of people passing through a Beppu arcade. One is a Black & White image which includes girls looking at something out of the left of the frame in the foreground. The other is a hand-coloured version of the same image, but here, cropping out these girls and inventing parts of the image now exposed from where they had been standing. For Chodzko this revision casts doubt about the ‘truth’ of the original photographic moment and catalyses suspicion about the motive for this erasure (wilfully ignoring that these alterations might, of course, just be an aesthetic decision; an “update”).
In an attempt to make sense of this the whole picture becomes slowly deconstructed through its re-enactment by a group of local participants in Kannawa, that Chodzko assembled, who, together, reflect on the interior psychology of the image and the community it portrays. Ideas of innocence, shame and a banishment from an ideal space evolve through discussion. Beppu’s geothermal steam becomes a symbolic form of emotional release and a relentless ‘absolute knowledge’ and, apparently in response to this, we witness futile human attempts to channel and control this energy.
Reference copy of Expulsion from the Garden of Eden (2015) on Vimeo.