A deep crevice lies like a crack in the landscape on the Southern tip
of the small Japanese island Yonaguni, close to Taiwan. A sign made
of stone on site states that during the Ryukyu dynasty in the 18th
century, pregnant women were forced to jump over this cliff to prevent
The gap is about three meter wide, fifteen meters long and about seven
meters deep. Standing next to it seems impossible to jump. A buddha
statue sits on the side of the cliff with numerous coins in his lap, oxidised
by the salted sea water nearby. It’s a small shrine to commemorate the
people who perished here.
Many historical events have been mythologized and though I hope
this is the case here it seems that the story of the Kubura-bari ( 久 良
バリ ) as this place is called, is at least partly based on true events.
Today, the island has a declining population. Close to the Kuburabari,
the frame of a once flourishing sugar cane factory remains. Most of
the buildings on the island are made of concrete. In 2016 a military base
and radar tower were built on the island that has about 1500 inhabitants,
drawing attention to its location. Along the shoreline you can find the
skeletons of horses.
Small slender horses that appear to be from another time live free on
this volcanic island, close to its edges on the rugged coast. Like trees
growing close to the shore their mane is shaped by the wind. They play
a leading role in three short films I made between 2017 and 2021.
In Shio (2018) attributing to the meaning of ‘tide’ they are seen
ambling about, defying the elements of nature as a young Japanese girl
tries to coax her horse into the sea. Both the horses and girl seem to be
waiting for someone or something to arrive.
This might be the little girl wearing a purplish-gray horse suit with
blue mane that wanders seemingly unnoticed through Japanese urban
landscapes until she ends up on the island where she finds kinship
with the horses alongside the coast (Yorishiro 2020). Yorishiro refers to
something or someone that can contain a spirit or soul of a ‘kami, a
spirit of nature possessing magical qualities.
The young girl in Ao (2021) explores the rough landscape of the island
on her dancing shoes and bare feet. She meets the girl from Shio who
braids her hair and plays with her. Eventually she comes face to face
with the crevice on the island, looking down into its dark past.
The girls connect to their surroundings, each in their own element,
their energy and poise seem to override the oppressive history
surrounding the Kubura-bari. Changing an atmospheric energy, like
angels going back in time to change the future.