Niigata Water and Land Art Festival
WATERPOLIS Niigata Project 2009
about 500 meters installation on two-level crossing of rivers
large-scale project installed around two-level crossing of rivers symbolizing long history of struggle between nature and human life in Niigata, Japan
Niigata Water and Land Art Festival
2009 7/18-12/27

Niigata City is characteristically symbolized by two big rivers; the Shinano river, the longest river in Japan, and the Agano river, one of Japan's most crear and large rivers. Formally, these two great fertile rivers wanderd across Niigata, seeking an exit, but people drilled a tunnel through the mountain and made drainage canals in order to lead the rives to an exit. Niigata has more drainage canals than perhaps any other region in Japan.
Two rivers cross at right angle without joining.. Though I had many opportunities to develop river projects through the world, I have never seen such two-level crossing among two rivers. This unique landscape shows how special history this district has; Hiigata, where has many zones located on zero meter above sea level. A river built as drainage ditch for defending against flood damage is passing under another river used as irrigation canal. Two-level crossing of rivers must be just a symbolic site where we can see through long, long history of struggle by local people against severe natural environment. Without hesitation, I decided to develop my art projebt 'WATERPOLIS' aroud this two-level crossing.
3 components for rethinking history struggle
between Water and Land

waterwatching flat
crossing water & earth

1 waterwatching flat On the very spot where two rivers are crossing, Ichi Ikeda installed two bamboo structures what' called 'Waterwatching Flat'. This is based on his belief that river can be grasped vividly as changeable textile woven by numerous streams. You are invited there to be just a waterwatcher enjoying reading secret story hidden in living water textile.
*Waterwatching Flat 01-- upper side of crossing
Tracing the river upstream, the past scene which farmers had struggled against too much water in rice field might come to mind. Imagine the old days when farmers were forced to work covered with mud all over.
*Waterwatching Flat 02-- lower side of crossing
The river below your eyes is flowing through tunnel constructed in the mountain into the sea of Japan. You can learn the history of long efforts for discharging too much water into the sea to defend their live against the flood damage.
under construction of waterwatching flat on lower side of Oodorigawa

The space named 'water-in-water' lies between waterwatching flat and actual river. It's expected to function like some kind of courtyard inserted for connecting human life and surrounding landscape. Compared with static garden known well as 'kare-sansui', this can be given clear definition as more dynamic space. Through this 'water-in-water', you can find a key for grasping that the river below your eyes must be just an assembly of numerous stream.
2 water-in-water
water-in-water No.1 facing towards the upper stream
water-in-water No.2 installed towards downstream flowing
into sea

Niigata's forbearers dug several discharge channels and built the drainage pump stations with advanced technology. People can now live on this land thanks to the dozens of drainage pumping station that discharge water. Awaken the memory of long and hard struggle with water and earth.
At the first stage of this art project, we invited local people to be pariticipants of workshop for taking photographs of two appearances of his/her hands.
your hands expressing memory of water & earth in yourself:
1) hands scooping up water
2) hands preserving earth
3 crossing water & earth
Photos of hands of more than 120 people were taken through Ichi Ikeda'sworkshop.
Photographer: Tatsuro Kodama
Moving forward towards downstreams along the river, you can see rows of photos of "hands scooping up water" lined up on the riverbank. They must inspire you to recall days of struggling with fear of water.
watery street
Proceeding towards upper streams, you will encounter rows of photos of "hands preserving earth". They remind you of days when people had been made strenuous efforts to conyinue farming under hard environment.
earthy street

watery faces suspended on the bridge of the lower reaches earthy faces hung on the bridge of the upper reaches
They must be highly estimated as positive narrators of history between water and land forwarding to the people living on te future earth. Join them.
photo: Tatsuro Kodama