CARPE DIEM! A short story about Azuma Makoto
Azuma Makoto. We first noticed his display at Maison Hermes in Tokyo. Dries van Noten invited him to decorate the walls during his Inspiration exhibition in Paris, and Fendi trusts his imagination when decorating the pop up shop in Tokyo. He also made the Adidas logo, the Colette decoration in Paris, the Issey Miyake store in New York, and more and later we found out that his Bonsai is atop the Buzludzha peak… That’s when we nearly fainted.
“For me, the scent of flowers is the scent of all my treasured memories” – says Makoto. In an industrial area near Tokyo, he encapsulates flowers into large blocks of ice. The captured beauty reminds us that it is temporary and we should enjoy it in the moment. Carpe diem!
Jardin des Fleurs
“I am surrounded by flowers and plants every day, which fade on a daily basis and are different from day to day. Every hour, every 10 minutes and even every second: every moment changes their form. I try to seize all those manifestations and present them in various forms”.
Jardin des Fleurs is his underground site for “teleporting” plants into the Ice Age, into the Baroque or into peculiar futuristic dimensions. The place where your most incredible floral dreams can come true. It sounds far-fetched, but for Azuma anything is possible.
Out of the banal context
He sent a fifty-year-old bonsai on a trip around the world. The tree in a steel frame floats among fish, wanders into the stratosphere or, as if in a sci-fi movie, lands inside the Bulgarian monument at Buzludzha. The concept is clear – to take the plants out of the banal context, outside the vase or pot, because according to Makoto only then can their true beauty be seen. The implementation is as complex as a Japanese riddle. How does he manage to make the plants follow his eccentric ideas?
“They hear my music and I hear theirs”
He plays special music that can’t be heard by humans. “They hear my music”, Azuma says, “and I hear theirs”. And he never agitates them with the wrong temperature, minimal humidity, or unpleasant artificial lighting. “No contaminated air from the street can enter my lab. I maintain 60 percent moisture, and the light comes from special organic bulbs”, Makoto explains, not hiding that he feels respect for the plants.
They constantly remind him of the Latin quote “Memento mori” (“Remember that you are mortal”). “Plants are not eternal. Their life goes on for a certain time and that inspires me. I capture the beautiful moment in a much different way than with the camera.” It doesn’t matter whether the plant comes from the East or the West.
His compositions are abundant with species from around the globe. “I live in Tokyo because here is the best market for flowers. I order what I want and I instantly get it. But Amazonia impressed me with the richness of its flora. There, I met a seventy-year-old man who, in forty years of research, encountered only thirty percent of the vegetation there. Can you imagine what abundance we are talking about?!”
Yes, we can only speculate like the Oracle of Delphi what the next project of the brilliant Makoto will be. Maybe he will send a ficus tree as an ambassador of peace in a war between galaxies, or perhaps transform it into a hologram? Only Azuma Makoto knows the answer to that question.