In Japan, there is an ancient myth that when catfish move about wildly, a major earthquake is coming.
When Ansei no oojishin (a major earthquake during Ansei period) hit Kanto in1855, the theme of catfish became very popular.
Many varieties of catfish pictures had existed during the Edo period. There are pictures of people fighting against giant catfish as well as depictions of very happy craftsmen reconstructing the infrastructure after the earthquake. Thus, the catfish have now become a symbol of not only large earthquakes, but also of our understanding that there are uncontrollable “forces of nature”. After the earthquake, new jobs became available (such as in construction), and therefore for some people the disaster meant opportunity as well. Because of this, giant catfish also symbolize new possibilities which is apparent in many pictures of catfish in the Edo period.
Arne is interested in the catfish as a symbol of the earthquake and has decided to put on a workshop in which he will make a large catfish in a balloon and involve the audience in its creation. With Arne, we can both consider the devastating effects of the Great East Japan Earthquake and simultaneously create something new. By doing so, will also continue to learn not only from lectures, but by creating something in ourselves through our physical bodies.
Arne Hendriks is an artist and exhibition maker based in Amsterdam. Arne Hendriks is a Master of Art (University of Amsterdam, 2001) and works passionately in the field of open-design, hacking, speculative research, education and the fine culture of repair. His recent work is “The Incredible Shrinking Man”, “Instrucables Restaurant”, “The Repair Manifesto”, “The Average Home”.