Kentaro Yamada

2009, Mar-

Palarell Parking

The title of Kentaro Yamada’s video installation Palarell Parking [sic] might be slightly confusing at first sight. One might even be cheeky enough to correct the artist’s spelling. Far wrong! Everything in this work has been perfectly orchestrated and nothing is left to chance.

We see the artist entering a parking lot in his station wagon and parking it, after a moment of pause and focus, between a Jeep and a Rover. He performs the act of parking with simplicity and elegance, a perfectly calculated and effortlessly executed movement. The subtle skill and the fluidity of movement are captured in a swift change in perspective from a close up shot to an aerial viewpoint. After that Yamada gets of the car. Nothing else happens.

It is interesting to note that the artist has chosen the cinematic language of a TV commercial and its seductive aesthetics to depict the mundane activity of parking a car. An action that we execute every day even several times, so often that we probably do not pay attention to it anymore.

Shot with three high definition cameras connected to each other on a steel rod, the images of Palarell Parking are structured in three distinctive pieces. Seen in an exhibition space it could remind the viewer of the classic structure of a triptych – a in three panels divided art work that can usually be found behind the altar of Christian churches. It commonly represents saints and serves as a place of worship and votive offering.

Asked about his influences the artist often mentions that he grew up watching his mother preparing and performing the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, which she used to teach. The artist talks about asking his mother what this ceremony was all about as a child. Preparations were made, rules were followed and rituals performed. Every time he asked his mother about the meaning of these actions, she never gave him a straight answer.

The Japanese writer Kazuo Okakura writes in The Book of Tea: “It (the Tea ceremony) is essentially a worship of the imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life”. Perhaps the artist’s mother decided not to put these into words, as meanings are learned only through a long years practice and repeated rituals.

So maybe one possible way of approaching Palarell Parking is seeing in it the payment of tribute to a mundane activity. Something that we accomplish everyday, the ritual of daily life that we are inclined to overlook. Yamada highlights the intrinsic formal beauty and elegance of everyday activities with an aesthetic eloquence that belongs to western culture.

Text by Francesca Zedtwitz-Arnim, originally posted on
Crew: Ben Rood, Han Niu, Petrice Rhodes, Richard Harling, Rua Acorn, Sinclair Lonsdale, Tuataroa Rapana Neill

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