Ontology of Performance: Falls of Niagara
“Some things can be done as well as others” - Sam Patch’s slogan in 1829
Niagara Falls, one of the great wonders of nature, has been both the subject and dumping ground of our desire and fascination. Sam Patch, the professional waterfall jumper, plunged twice into Niagara Falls in the autumn of 1829 before grand audiences, and famously remarked about his aspirations, “some things can be done as well as others.” These words became a popular slogan around the nation.
Nikola Tesla also had dreams of engaging the power of the falling water, transforming the Falls into the first major hydro-electricity power plant in the world in 1888. Later, after WWII, nuclear waste from the Manhattan Project was dumped around the site of Niagara. The current Niagara is no longer just the natural world, but a fusion of the forces of humanity and nature.
The jump is an act of will, that permeates history, time, and space, and an act of being one with God and the Sublime. The rising mist between the falling water and the river below is a grey boundary between the known and unknown, seen and unseen, graspable and ungraspable, mystery and danger. As we experience God, the Falls disappear.
The jump – a symbolic action, an act of self-devotion and self-sacrifice, a leap of faith, an action of conquering and being conquered. The Falls themselves are a disappearing being – eroding away at one foot per year. In Niagara, time is suspended at its vanishing point, and action harnesses the hidden power between the will and the sublime.
Hanae Utamura (Ibaraki, Japan) graduated from Goldsmiths College (2004, BA) and Chelsea College of Art and Design (2010, MA) in London.
The negotiation between nature and civilization, and how life manifests itself has been a central focus of her practice.
A fellowship in visual art at Akademie Schloss Solitude originally brought her to Germany in 2014. She continued her stay in Germany with a residency at Künstlerhaus Bethanien, in Berlin, supported by the Pola Art Foundation.
She has recently received the Shiseido Art Egg Award (2018 / Japan), and plans to have a solo show at the Shiseido Gallery in Tokyo in August.
“Ontology of Performance: Falls of Niagara“ is part of the long-term curatorial project 'Dragonfly' by SOMA Art Space Berlin and is generously supported by Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa Berlin.
HANAE UTAMURA (JP)