Residency Program

Research Residency Program

update: 2023.1.12


Participating ProgramResearch Residency Program
Activity BasedMexico City
Period2023.1 - 2023.3
Purpose of the residency

My research project for the TOKAS artistic research residency is about the time that Taro Okamoto spent in Mexico City in 1967 painting his masterpiece mural The Myth of Tomorrow. Since the time when Okamoto San was an ethnography student at La Sorbonne in Paris, he developed an admiration for ancient indigenous cultures. The influence of the Jōmon people from Japan was evident in his work, but he also professed a deep admiration for cultures like the Mexican Aztecs or the native ethnicities of Oceania.
Based on a Mexican clay folk sculpture called "The Tree of Life" that he owned and is exhibited permanently in the living room of his house memorial in Aoyama in Tokyo, my research aims to find a relationship and a parallel to his monumental sculpture from 1970 The Tree of Life featured at the interior of the "Tower of the Sun" in Osaka.

Plan during the residency
  • I am planning to visit The Taro Okamoto Memorial Museum in Aoyama, Taro Okamoto Museum of Art, The Tower of the Sun Museum in Osaka, The Tokyo National Museum (which in September 1955 hosted the Mexican Muralist exhibition "Mekishiko Bijutsu Ten") as well as the library of the Mexican Embassy in Tokyo.
  • I also plan to interview the art historian and academic Kaoru Kato, who wrote the essay "Approach to the influence of the Mexican muralist movement on contemporary art in Japan" as well as Keiichi Tanaka who's an expert on Taro Okamoto's "Myth of Tomorrow" mural.
  • With my research, I plan to create a first approach for a short film script that I plan to shoot during the summer of 2023 between Mexico City, Paris, and Japan.
Activities during the residency

I spent my residency time at TOKAS for my latest film project, “The Two Trees” in 3 different ways.
The first one consisted in interviewing different Japanese academics, experts, and personalities whose work related to the time that Taro Okamoto spent in the 60s in Mexico City painting his masterpiece mural “The Myth of Tomorrow”.
With the kind help of the Cultural Department of the Mexican embassy, I was able to interview Japanese curator Rei Maeda, who curated the Exhibition “The Impact of Mexico” at the Ichihara Lake Museum in 2021, which featured the works of Taro Okamoto, On Kawara and filmmaker Kaori Oda among others.
Also, with the kind arrangements of the Cultural Department of the Mexican embassy, I was able to meet up with the director of the “Myth of Tomorrow Conservation Inheritance Organization” Mister Kazuhiro Hara, to obtain the necessary permits to shoot the mural at Shibuya Station, the location where the monumental piece is permanently and publicly exhibited.
Again, with the kind support of the cultural department of the Mexican embassy, I was able to meet up with representatives of the Saitama Prefecture Government building, to shoot a big Mexican folk art piece called “The Tree of Life” that is exhibited permanently in their gardens, gifted by the State of Mexico in the early 2000s since both regions share a commercial trade agreement.
Finally, I also traveled to Hiroshima to meet with the Hiroshima Film Commission Director, Miss Tomoko Nishizaki to begin the procedures for this year’s shooting at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Dome.

The second instance of my time in Tokyo consisted in shooting some of Taro Okamoto’s public artworks in different locations in Japan, to make a video teaser that will introduce in a near future my film project to potential contributors and film funds. For this endeavor, I was able to shoot inside the Taro Okamoto House Memorial Museum as well as his public sculpture “The Tree of Children” both in Aoyama, then a few blocks away I shot the “Myth of Tomorrow” mural at the Shibuya Subway Station. Then the “Young Clock Tower” at Sukiyabashi Park in Ginza, and finally his “Sun Tower” (Not to be confused with the iconic “Tower of the Sun” in Osaka) sculpture on the rooftop of the SOGO Yokohama Mall.

The third and last way in which I dedicated my residence time at TOKAS was by looking for a Japanese producer to team up with to secure a co-production scheme for the film. Gladly I was able to connect with Japanese producer Ryohei Tsutsui from the production company Trixta, who was a Berlinale Talent in the same generation I took part in in 2018, and who also happens to be producing Kaori Oda’s new film. He kindly decided to jump on board and we are joining forces to try to secure support from both countries to film at the end of this year or the beginning of the next.

Outcome of the residency

I was able to finish the teaser for my upcoming film project entitled “The Two Trees” and present it at the TOKAS Open Studio 2023. I was also able to meet up with the people and institutions behind the copyrights of Okamoto’s main works. And last but not least, secure a Japanese producer to achieve a film co-production scheme, involving a possible future Japan and Mexico financial investment in the project.

Creator Information