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Plaster statues (Guanyin and Virgin Mary) and video projections        



There is a widely held belief in Japan that Japanese people are not religious, but many people believe in Japanese gods and supernatural beings. Japanese gods are sometimes mixed with and adopt some elements of other religions. My hometown is Amakusa in Kumamoto (Japan). In the Edo period, many Christians were persecuted by the government for their religious beliefs. But despite this persecution, many people in Amakusa held on to their Christian beliefs, including my own ancestors. They were known as Kakure Kirishitans, Japanese for Hidden Christians. Since Kakure Kirishitans were forbidden to revere the image of the Virgin Mary, they kept images of Kannon, a Buddhist female bodhisattva, in place of Mary in their homes. They could then claim that they were worshipping Kannon, who has similar attributes, whilst continuing to revere the Virgin Mary.    

     I put together the image of Maria-Kannon from fragments of a plaster Mary statue and a plaster Kannon statue which I demolished, as seen in the pictures above. In spite of Japanese people not being religious, many feel a sense of awe at such an act of destruction of Mary and Kannon statues. I think that such a feeling may make us realize again the faith sleeping within us.