SHOJI KATO | STAGING AREA – Not Just for Thousands of Cranes


Staging Area – Not Just for Thousands of Cranes (2022-2023)

by Shoji Kato at Makers’ Gallery, Vaasa

May 4th to May 21st. 2023

Every autumn, thousands of cranes make a mass visit to the vast flat landscape of Söderfjärden. This staging area – a stopping place – for the migrating birds is an agricultural field which was once under water. Due to the post-glacial rebound, the depth of the bay that used to cover this field slowly became shallower and fishing became less practical. In the late 18th century, villagers made their first attempt to regulate the water level with a dam so that it would keep more of the land dry. The efforts of generations to reclaim dry land involved both cooperation and conflict. People dug ditches with hand tools and, finally, in the 1920s, set up a pump station for turning the wetland into a golden land that can now yield vast harvests.

In the late 1970’s, an article in the Geological Survey of Finland, ‘On the Geology of the Circular Depression at Söderfjärden, Western Finland’, reported an extensive geological investigation into Söderfjärden. Because the geologists found tuffaceous breccia boulders and Early Cambrian sediments, they mentioned the possibility, for the first time, that Söderfjärden might be a post-impact site of a meteorite impact. Later on, in 1984, this theory was found to be true by one of the geologists who participated in writing the article. He estimated that the crater was formed at least 520 million years ago. At that time Finland – part of the Fennoscandian continental landmass – was in the southern hemisphere, before being transported to its current position by plate tectonics.

This exhibition will feature an installation work, Staging Area – Not Just for Thousands of Cranes (2022– 2023). This work consists of sculptural arrangements of place-specific materials, photographic images and a fragmented script for a fictional play (based on historical events). Together in the gallery space, they sustain a place into which imagine Söderfjärden as a moving place – a poetic staging area to which organic and inorganic, humans and animals, supporters and opponents, scantiness and sacredness, chance and the will to survive all come from different directions and times, and wherein they prepare for the continuation of their journeys. Will they somehow return to this juncture?

This exhibition is supported by:

TAIKE (Arts Promotion Center Finland), SKR (Finnish Cultural Foundation) and Makers’ Gallery