Saint Sebastian


 Saint Sebastian (Works)

colour, 2 x stereo
2 channel
2 media players, 2 video projectors, 2 amplifiers, 8 hi-fi audio speakers,
white double-sided projection screen 5 x 2.81 m

Saint Sebastian was filmed by Fiona Tan at the annual ‘Toshiya’ in Kyoto, a coming-of-age ceremony for women aged twenty in 2001. It was for the first time ever that a film camera was allowed to capture the procedings. Dressed in traditional kimono hundreds of young women perform the Japanese art of archery in a ritual that has persisted for over four centuries, combining female grace and beauty with the typically male skills of physical and mental strength. The monumental video installation is presented on both sides of a large single screen which hangs diagonally in the exhibition space. Like two sides of a coin, the event is presented from two points of view. On the first side of the screen preparatory movements of the women are combined with audible chatter of the audience in a restless registration of the initiation. On the second side the focus is drawn fully towards the mental concentration, the inner emotion and the actual shooting of the arrow. With an accomplished montage and envelopping soundtrack the visual spectacle of the event is rendered voluptuous by close-ups of peachy skin, glossed lips and glimpses at the napes of the young girls’ necks. The target itself remains visually absent.


Commissioned by the Yokohama Triennale