Rei Hayama

Rei Hayama

On the Collinear and Reflected on the Water, 2018, video, 4 min.
Courtesy of the artist and Empty Gallery, Hong Kong

Halfway Café

During the pandemic, I was very lucky to live in a small house surrounded by trees and the ocean on an islet in Hong Kong, which helped tremendously to ease the fear of eschatology in the time of quarantine and lockdown. The soothing power of nature is unquestionable, it humbles you when realizing all of your surroundings are larger than life itself. In these moments, I believe art can transmit such energy and help us understand more non-human centered intelligence than ever.

When I came across Rei Hayama’s artwork a few years ago, I was immediately struck by her sensitivity to images and her relationship with nature. In On the Collinear and Reflected on the Water, one enters a hypnotic journey while listening to the protagonist recount a strangely intimate encounter with an emu against the backdrop of projected and re-photographed film footage showing the bird behind bars at the zoo. As Hayama filmed the emu, she noticed a tear dropping from the corner of its eye, suggesting a complex reflection and miniaturization of our inner and outer world—it evokes the selfishness of human behavior, the cruelty of disaster, and more. This magical moment captures and enlarges, frame by frame, the sense of deep anxiety and guilt that emerges from staring at the emu, or visa-versa. It is as if the more you look at the bird, the more embarrassed you feel. During a pandemic and amidst ever accelerating contemporary tragedies, we wish for a sight of grief for relief, even if it’s as fleeting as a teardrop.

-Curator|Freya Chou

Rei Hayama

(b. 1987, Tokyo, Japan; based in Tokyo) A Japanese artist who works mainly with moving images. After many thoughtful and practical experiences amongst wildlife in the unique environment of her youth, she studied at the Department of Moving Images and Performing Arts, Tama Art University and has been making films since 2008. Hayama’s films revolve around nature and all other living things that have been lost or neglected from an anthropocentric point of view. Through film and video works with sound, poetic writings and symbolic imageries, Hayama gently seeks the harmonious connection between nature and human beings, bringing forward the invisible layers of our natural reality into the human imagination. The philosophy of Hayama’s work is deeply engaged with cinema and interprets the cinema space as an artificial nature. She describes her work as “A Humble Cinema” and explores multiple dreams after the dream of humans.

Curator : Freya Chou

from 2015 to 2019. Prior to that, she was co-curator of the 10th Shanghai Biennial (with Anselm Franke, Cosmin Costinas, and Liu Xiao, 2014), Assistant Curator of the 7th Taipei Biennial (co-curated by Hongjohn Lin and Tirdad Zolghadr, 2010), and Curatorial Assistant of the 6th Taipei Biennial (co-curated by Manray Hsu and Vasif Kortun, 2008). She has edited and contributed writing to many artist books, magazines, and catalogues. Freya Chou will curate for Hong Kong Pavillion at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022.

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