On Shikoku Island, in Japan, there is this trail, a pilgrimage that goes around the island. Along the way, there are Buddhist temples. During one summer, I followed this path with my camera and my travel tea utensils. It was hot and humid. The environment marked the gelatin of the films.
88 temples. 88 tea ceremonies. 88 pictures.
The ceremony has become an excuse to travel, traveling an excuse for spiritual practice. It is also an attempt to tell a trip differently. Photography, while being part of the ritual, is also the testimony of this performance and a way to tell this walk. It is both distanced from the act and an integral part of it. We only see a trace of what has been. I integrate a ritual to another one, while I reflect on my own position to what I have learned from Japanese culture.
I wonder about my place as a foreigner in a culture that is not mine. I integrate a Japanese ritual, the way of tea, with another, the Shikoku pilgrimage. I create a bridge between two traditions that are not mine. There is an integration of a culture by this culture itself. I thus question my three years living in Japan, my link with this country and my relationship to the practice of the way of tea.
It was born in a Buddhist ritual where monks shared a bowl of tea before meditation. I was sometimes able to offer a bowl of tea to other pilgrims or to a monk. Pilgrims asked if it was a new religion, monks commented that I myself had become a monk by doing this.
The films keep the traces of the time of this pilgrimage. It was summer, on a semi-tropical island. It was very hot and humid.
This marked the negatives that I sometimes had to take off, or even tear from each other. These errors, these marks, these damages, are so many metaphors for me of what the pilgrimage is.
All images and text © Ymy Nigris
By Ymy Nigris
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