I vividly recall how I felt when I first saw Jerry Takigawa's art.
As I approached the photographs I remember being drawn into the beautiful, smiling Japanese faces and then became aware of found things that had been placed on top of the images and photographed again. They were leaves, stones and feathers and they seemed to float above the happy scenes in back yards from another time. The found things were at once part and not part of the pictures. Some of the artifacts seemed randomly placed while others appeared to follow a pattern and I became faintly aware of an order or, I should say, a longing. A longing to freeze these faces in time, to hold them in place so as to not let them move forward to the misery that awaited them.
The artist was trying to go back in time, trying to answer questions with no answers and in so doing he had placed his loved ones in a kind of amber where he too could pretend that he was saving them from what lay just around the corner. The found things then felt more like the stones left on Jewish gravestones, something to anchor that which cannot be held down, sadness and regret. I found the work beautiful, disturbing and important.
Takigawa is the kind of artist that is rare these days for he is a searcher, asking difficult questions and going deep within his own fears and hopes. He is a question rather than a declarative statement and that is why he should be listened to. He also has the rare ability to make something very disturbing seem beautiful and benign thus pulling the viewer in, almost under false pretenses.
In his new project, False Food, he again has taken found objects, but this time from the sea. They are different kinds of plastic with bright and beautiful colors and he sets them in a pattern that makes them lovely and appealing and, seemly harmless. But upon closer examination you come to learn that these bits of plastic are floating in massive amounts, like small dislodged islands, all over our oceans and that birds and fish are eating these bits and then we humans are ingesting the fish and those bits as well. What at one moment, from across the room seemed merely pretty colored patterns, suddenly becomes that which nightmares are made of.
Takigawa is not a preacher; he is a thoughtful man who cares and who knows an essential truth—that we are all connected and that we have an obligation not only to each other but, to future generations we shall never know.