The Travels of Mariko Horo (2006)

A reverse Marco Polo fantasy based on Namban-bunka, the genre of Japanese art dealing with the depiction of foreigners and foreign lands. It mixes Christian imagery with Buddhist concepts of the cosmos, drawing also on the "hidden Christians" who worshipped images of the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy (Kannon) as the Christian Madonna.

The work premiered at the Edge Conditions exhibit curated by Steve Dietz at the San Jose Museum of Art for the inaugural ZeroOne Biennial, part of the ISEA2006 media art festival

Full Description

"The Travels of Mariko Horo" is an Occidentalist artwork, a reverse Marco Polo fantasy in which I reconstruct "the West" (represented by the Venice of Marco Polo) through the viewpoint of "Mariko Horo," a fantasy time-traveling woman. The piece overlays Christian imagery with Buddhist cosmological structure, drawing on my research into the "Hidden Christians" in Japan, who developed a Christian/Buddhist synthesis during the 200 years in which the country was closed to the rest of the world.

The piece was also inspired by the "Namban-bunka" art genre which flourished in Japan during this time, in which artists depicted foreigners and foreign lands out of their fantasies. This piece was supported by the Japan Foundation, the Kyoto Art Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Advanced Visual Studies, and won the "Young Art and New Media" prize of the City of Munich.

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