CM: The title Symphony of Unknown Destination of Yorgos Taxiarchopoulos' present work is an unaltered phrase from Lafcadio Hearn's article entitled "The Ghost" published in Harper's New Monthly Magazine (v.80, #475, p.116-119) in New York in 1889. Having experienced life in Japan in the period 2007-2008, Taxiarchopoulos was interested in Lafcadio's relationship with the Far East as a citizen of the world. In his writing he communicates vividly and with elegance the daily life of the Japanese and their values. Following the example of Lafcadio, Taxiarchopoulos put himself the task to visually render that sentence with a series of important elements. From a poetic viewpoint these words seem to refer to a silent musical symphony of objects in time and space.
\In the installation presides a traditional Buddhist 'Shinto' bell. Although it is customary for such bells to be yellow to refer to the element of fire, Taxiarchopoulos changed its appearance and use to serve his particular purpose. He presented the bell in red color to evoke a Western sense of urgency. Also, although tradition reserves a polygonal form for 'Shinto' bells, Taxiarchopoulos rendered it round, which gives it an archetypal character. Thus, he created a bell more as a feeling rather than as a traditional object. Its cord is gold to emphasize the sanctity of the bell's role, and handmade to emphasize the preciousness of human fabrication.
Where the cord is about to touch the ground, begins to open a concentric circular garden. This garden reflects the 'Ensō', the circles of Zen. The painters who follow the Zen tradition, every morning fashion with ink the Ensō and the degree to which their circles are perfect determines the harmony of the rest of their day. Herewith Taxiarchopoulos uses two-colored marble inlay to make a black circle in between two white ones, which as a whole symbolize the beginning and end at the same time in absolute symphony, as if their shape contain what is described by the phrase "Unknown Destination" - that is divinity.
The third element is a folder that contains the very personal and non-revelatory writing of Lafcadio. Whoever has experienced Japan fully perceives that absolute experiences can only be communicated through experience and such wisdom remain concealed. That is why this envelope is sealed with the personal sealing-wax of Lafcadio, in order to keep the content buried there forever. The string that wraps it is a transtemporal reference to the Japanese art of wrapping, whereby the presentation has greater value than the content. This is a special condition that occurs in the Far East and has to do with aesthetic beauty. By contrast to the vertical position of the bell's cord that is offered for use, the horizontal axis of the envelope's string is reminiscent of the silent presence of death.
Generally in Japan people ascribe to the presentation of things, but also to their behavior amongst one another a great significance to highlight the lack of meaning of existence. Hence Taxiarchopoulos chose to illustrate this phrase of Lafcadio. It contains a contradiction - the unknown and the destination - which is a typical biographical trait of Lafcadio himself.
[Megakles Rogakos 02/2009]
ROGAKOS, MEGAKLES The Open Mind of Lafcadio Hearn 2009 The American College of Greece, Athens