||Ichi Ikeda- The Man of Water
Japanese Art Magazine ³Bijutsu Techo² May 1960
This February, a performance was held at 'Gallery Natsuka', in Ginza, Tokyo. Water was shown in three forms. First, long and thin, in tubes. Second, horizontal, in a flat table-like tank, covered from below by TV monitors. Third, in vertical slabs, in two tanks each the size of a tatami mat, standing side by side. During the performance, Ikeda blew on the water, mixed earth into it, stroked it and spoke with his lips touching the surface of it. From time to time,he wrote on the tanks, "I have mixed water. Water is stirring me up. I am flowing. I am overflowing. The water is flooding. I am flooding." It seemed as though the performer
were treating water as a living being.
During Ikeda¹s performance, a woman suddenly walked up and scribbled on one of the tanks a traditional short poem. "The smell of fire. Striking the keyboard of the water piano." One performance leads to another. This may have been caused by a being without shape, a being that makes one think of the never-ending cycle of reincarnation, a living being named water.
On visiting the Ikeda residence, I found that part of his house was painted the color blue, or should I say, the color of water. The color of his clothing was also blue. So was the tool box that he carries around for his performances. On the box was written "Blue is Our Ecological Image". Ikeda has started by dying his environment "water-ish" colors.
At present, in order to think about the metropolis Tokyo, Ikeda is holding irregular performances, roughly once a month, working his way down the Tama River. During these performances, Ikeda drags stones through the shallow waters. Bump, bump, thump, thump, sound the waters. At other times, Ikeda fits plastic tubes onto his fingers, stands among the shallows, and waves his arms. Waves of music appear on the surface of the water. Ikeda considers these part of his 'Earth-Up-Action', which means ³a series of acts and messages searching for co-habitation among the relationship between "human-material-nature". He plans to unfold ³a 'River-Plan' that will cover the whole length of the Tama River, and take five to six years to perform.²
What is the message? Ikeda has published that he is ³sure that the performance is "a viewpoint from which to review the perspective of the times." By reviewing the relationship between man and matter, it seems that he is trying to produce a situation open to free unrestricted reactions. Together with the water, he invites all the audience, and all the participants to open up into their natural selves.
This is a time filled with conflict, between our idea of what water is, and Ikeda¹s actions with water. The Performance takes place during those hours, but it is impossible for us to be present at the scene of all of his acts. For the time being, let us confirm the fact that he has
been continuously ³confronting water². Ikeda comes into contact with water in places where his own self becomes apparent from the relationship with water. He lets himself melt into the cycle of a drop of rain becoming part of a river, flowing down to the ocean, evaporating into mist and
becoming a cloud. The shapelessness of water makes it easy to deal with, and also captures the one performing acts.
On the sands of a river near the village of Hinoemata, Ikeda immersed himself into water that was shaped like a cross. He must have wished for something, something to join the water of his cross with the blue tents that were set up around him, something to join the blue of the river to the blue of the skies, i.e., rain. Indeed, it poured. Could he be a shaman? After seeing the whole of a performance in Ginza, someone said,
"It's like free jazz". Indeed, Ikeda's "water piano".