Eyes of whales
1,2,3,7,8,9, Exhibition “Song to Life,Struggles of the Soul” in Spiral Garden
4,5,6, Solo Exhibition "L’œil de la baleine " In Aquarium de Paris, France.Year 2018. Production cooperation by Serge Koutchinsky
10,11,12, “Interaction between a painting and a word is the beginning of a story” Art Museum & Library, Ota, Gunma.
Materials: Newspaper, wood fragments and pillars of an abandoned house in Awashima, shredded document paper from Mitoyo city office, toilet paper, plaster, bond, water, wire, wire mesh, aluminum foil, tree branches, plywood, acrylic pigment, animal leather, Organdy, thread, embroidery, spray color, pen, copper clasp, cotton cushion, spotlight, urethane, bamboo, sand
* Leather used in the work is scratched and scrapped. Unsold, such as hagile. They are connected to create a new creature.
Special Thank you
Awashima Girl & Boy, the three Warli brothers, Mitoyo City in Kagawa Prefecture, and all the volunteers from Awashima and Umihotaru.
The Tara is a 36-meter long schooner for scientific expeditions
that OHKOJIMA Maki boarded and started the production of the
“Whale’s Eyes” series. The parent of the schooner is the Tara Ocean
Foundation, a non-profit organization co-founded by a French fashion
designer agnes b. and his son Etienne Bourgois which has been
conducting marine environmental research and protection activities
since 2003. Since its inception, the Tara Ocean Foundation has
implemented 11 scientific expedition projects and sailed more than
450,000 km through 60 countries around the world. With Tara Ocean
project (2009-2013) which achieved to collect 35,000 samples of
plankton, of which nearly 90% of plankton were newly discovered
species, Tara Mediterranean project (2014) which investigated on the
impact of microplastics to the Ocean, as well as Tara Pacific project
(2016-2018) which conducted the research on the biodiversity and
the evolution of coral reefs that face to climate change, the activities
of Tara projects are very vast and have been producing many great
scientific results. OHKOJIMA Maki was selected as one of the resident
artists for this Tara Pacific Project through a global recruitment.
From 30 January to 19 March 2017, OHKOJIMA sailed from Guam to
Yokohama along with over 10 specialists such as seafarers, captain,
cook, journalist and scientists. Although she was on board as an
artist, she accompanied scientists to collect corals samples, and also
participated in cleaning, raising the sail and night watching. While
spending rich conversations with various specialists in the Tara-like
“big family” that Okojima says, she spent a little less than two months
together. Learning through her experiences on board of Tara made
her nurture more concretely her image of the life cycle and of the
symbiosis of life, created by marine lives. And this image became a
fruitful foundation for the creation of the “Whale Eye” series, as well as
11 stories and drawings such as “Sea, Life Soup”, “Coral Heart” and
Written by Satoshi Koganezawa
First published in: Maki Ohkojima, "Whale's Eye," museum shop T, p. 70.
Dead white whale
On February 6, 2017, I encountered a whale.
A flock of birds had come to feast on its dead body.
Sharks had also gathered.
The skin had melted away,
and its white fat floated on the sea.
It moved together with the waves.
Sea, soup of life.
How many lives have melted into it?
The places we live sit atop a foundation of life.
The Earth resembles one giant creature.
Text: where the sea meets
The sea creates clouds that fall as rain,
soak into the mountains and filter through the soil,
becoming drinking water that enters creatures’ bodies.
The mountains make rivers, whose water flows into the sea.
This giant cycle is like the flow of blood or the passage of synapses,
and I feel it takes place in our bodies, just as it seems to happen in the galaxy,
where the Earth is but a single cell.
As someone who has created images of forests for many years,
I feel that the Eyes of Whales series has allowed me to see the whole Earth
as a place where land and sea intersect.
The carcass of the dead whale that I happened across burrowed
into my consciousness and carried me on a great adventure.
It’s as if my body is being animated by the myriad of gods and ghosts of nature,
including the dark spirts that make their homes in forests, mountains, and rivers.
I have delighted in this possession by spirts, learned from their perspective upon the world,
and enjoyed working together with many people.
The Eyes of Whales series is my tribute to their bodies and souls—
so enormous and yet composed of the very small.
Eyes of whales
Directed, Filmed and Edited | Shin Ashikaga
Music | Curtis Tamm
© 2022 Maki Ohkojima