Just to Land in Tokyo by Kuzma Vostrikov and Ajuan Song

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Just to Land in Tokyo

By Kuzma Vostrikov

Half book, half work of art, Just to Land in Tokyo is a charming New York love story about German photographer Hans and Japanese Jazz singer and bass player Yuma . . .

Contemporary artists are caught in the crossroads of eras and ways of living. Modern art itself is confused about whom it serves. The twentieth century canceled the fierce and principled dialogue. Modern art roams ownerless, awaiting adoption. Sometimes it tries to sell itself as a cheap body, other times it plays at being a breakthrough, aspiring to a higher idea. It claims to open new ways of knowledge and progress for humanity, as if there’s no difference between Rembrandt and a cobblestone in the middle of a gallery.

Wait! We were talking about our book!

Just to Land in Tokyo is a project born in the womb of New York, on its artistic ground.

One could say our pink book began in the green Central Park.

New York is a social flask for mixing the enthusiasm of arriving seekers. That’s how I met with Ajuan in 2014: each searching for an entrance from our own exit. New York is a hellish teleporter, a huge stone flower-monster, feeding on the naivety of creative labor.

The idea to make a book materialized during our trial collaboration. We belong to the twentieth century, which has already sunk. We live in the terms of the last century. A book has always been a sacred object, transmitting the experience of previous generations through time. In the accelerated era of the twentieth century, amidst the increasing trend of disposable culture, we were still instilled with these values: a book is the pinnacle, an opportunity for internal summary.

Just to Land in Tokyo, as an artistic project in the form of a book, is also an attempt to summarize our reaction to New York, perhaps even New York’s reaction to us. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle, the impact of the researcher on the subject of research.

We understood that as artists, we needed to cast our statement in some solid form.

Initially, the idea was to create comics: digital photos with textual comments, the authors’ reflections on each plot, mixing visual and textual elements to achieve a synergistic effect.

In 2016, we began working together in a studio, where improvisation was the main method. We were discovering New York, deeply blending with the city like brothers. Andy Warhol, his relationships with actors, artists, public figures, the history of Studio 54, all became an accelerator for our own movement. We felt the spirit of the seventies, those technologies, the tentative attempts to play with the issue of copy and original, using film for endlessly long movies. All this somehow stimulated us, raised questions, and served as an example of artistic search, a level of life saturation.

That’s why we have so many primary colors and allusions to pop art: a kind of thaw and collective love, where self-expression is accessible to everyone. (Many critics argue that Warhol consciously manipulated people for his own interests, but these are nuances.)

Surprisingly, the 2010s in their own way were also a naive time of the twenty-first century before the singularity. We fully used Photoshop, shot endless variations of the same thing, and expressed our still fresh feelings about the city.

During the shooting, I suggested combining photography with text. Instead of comics, we decided to write a complete narrative novel. To spontaneously mix text and images, just as an artifact of artistic experience. The result of our joint experience and the discovery of opportunities in new contexts, archival layers of our past, which we also brought to New York.

The novel should be viewed as an integral part of the entire project, as a specific stylistic form of exploring reality, the ontic essence of the city, and the realization of detachment from the observed.

The process of writing the novel intersected with the creation of photographs. The literary story conveyed collective feelings, a reflection on the city: in an expressive, approximate form. Repetition, at times lyricism, rawness, density and the jagged rhythm matched the spirit of the times, the lifestyle, the search – both in reality and on the photo set.

The plot tells the story of Hans, a photographer who, after escaping from East Berlin, couldn’t adapt to life in New York, where he eventually ended up after the death of his parents. His sensations and search, his appeal to emotions as a method of absorbing reality, are not random. Hans attempts to perceive reality not conceptually, not through rational calculations, actions, philosophical conclusions, but prefers a mechanism of intuition, the sacred, the transcendent. His tool of investigation is his inflamed soul, which he uses as an excavator to scoop samples of the ground.

The soul – a word forbidden in modern art, as a principle it has lost relevance and authority in the public forefront. Nonetheless, Hans’s soul is so distorted, pumped with deformations, exhilarated, and brought to the extreme of absurdity, it hardly can be called a soul! Therefore, it is allowed to experiment with reality within the limits permitted by the system of artistic discourse.

Everything is allowed for the freak!

And Hans, being a deceiver, a biological probe, pretending to be an android robot, successfully copes with his function of a human simulacrum.

Simulating the human, imperfect and outdated, as if in a museum, he deceptively carries his baggage with him into the salon of modernity, where he detonates this inconvenient bomb for the passengers.

The book indeed weighs like a bomb. It is neither a photo album nor a novel for reading. It can be consumed diagonally, read from the end, examined under a microscope, or simply wearily flipped through, hoping to find bright illustrations among the letters.

Despite its improvisational nature, the text still imprints a story that may seem different depending on the polarization of the reading glasses. With this multifaceted approach, we hope to interest the reader, who can see something new on the pages each time, similar to the “Book of Sand” by Jorge Luis Borges.

(c) Kuzma Vostrikov

About Just to Land in Tokyo:
Just to Land in Tokyo

Half book, half work of art, Just to Land in Tokyo is a charming New York love story about German photographer Hans and Japanese Jazz singer and bass player Yuma, whom he met while she was performing in The Blue Note Jazz Club. This is the beginning of a scenario that may or may not be true. The story of Hans’s overheated imagination about a girl who may be completely made up. The book’s format comes close to a monologue involving events that may never have happened – in the end, we’re not sure whether Hans ever existed at all.

Just to Land in Tokyo tells a beautiful love story that could easily have happened in New York. The authors, multimedia artists Kuzma Vostrikov and Ajuan Song, work together to create a photographic collaboration imbued with fashionable surrealism The visual images complementing the narrative show feelings and loneliness through the use of masks, faces, isolation and reincarnation.

The book came about as the duo wanted to create a novel about New York and its loneliness, with improvisational visual content. Kuzma – filmmaker, artist and writer – is Ajuan’s mannequin who was used as the main character of the photographs. As active participants in the artistic process, throughout Just to Land in Tokyo, Kuzma and Ajuan explore how one overcomes distance to settle in a new, unknown place and the challenges of running away from their loneliness. Having both moved separately to New York, they have both experienced their share of discomfort and finding where they belong.

Ajuan and Kuzma’s aim is to remind people that love exists, one just has to learn how to fly properly, that you can still become a superhero and the big city is a true monster, but you can be a winner.

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Film maker and visual artist Kuzma Vostrikov’s practice reflects diverse interests including the role of technology in contemporary society, psychology, and history. The artist’s work is found in international collections including the CICA Museum, Korea, The Yokyung Art Museum, Korea and The Museum of Russian Art, New Jersey.

Ajuan Song’s artistic practice includes analog, digital photography and multimedia works. In addition to a classical Chinese education, Song’s time in Africa has informed her aesthetic as has an interest in Confucianism. Song holds her BS, Physics from the Anqing University, China and studied fine art and photography at the International Center of Photography and Pratt, New York.

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