For Tempo Elastico – a three people group exhibition at the CAN (Centre d’art de Neuchatel), Philémon Otth presented an immersive and site-specific installation composed of two distinct but largely interrelated projects: Persimon Paradise (2019) and Engawa (side by side, end to end) (2019). This two-parted intervention functioned as a spatial and temporal framework for the rest of the exhibition. Both works were imagined and developed during a residency in rural Japan and are strongly inspired by the artist’s personal interest and experience of the country’s culture and history.
Persimmon Paradise (2019) was an intervention on the CAN’s widows. Otth collected on an orange adhesive foil residue from the museum floors (dust, insects, coins, etc), which he then applied on the window panel. The foil altered transparency was working as a light-box and diffused a bright and gloomy yellow light in the rooms. For the artist, orange is both the color of the Kaki (persimmon) – a Japanese fruit that people are hanging at their window during the winter to dry, the colors of amber – a natural time capsule (think of Jurrasic Park) and the apocalyptical yellow skies resulting of extreme pollution and giant forest fires (Paradise was a small town in California which has been totally burned down during a terrible wave of forest fires in 2018).
As part of the installation, requiring natural daylight, the museum opening hours were adapted to fit day after day the changing sunrise and sunset times. Each day, the exhibition closed approximately two minutes later, as days got longer in January.
An Engawa in traditional Japanese architecture is a space neither inside nor outside, it’s a transitional, multifunctional zone, serving both as an extra room, hallway, or terrasse. Engawa (side by side, end to end) was an installation developed specifically in reaction to the CAN’s architecture. A wooden platform was extending and connecting the outside terrace to the different spaces inside the museum. The platform built in the same way as its outside referent formed a sort of path guiding the visitors. One could choose to be on it, or next to it.