We walk and talk to search your true home
Oct. 24th Night
“This isn’t my true home.”
She begins to cry and tries to call her “true home”
from the line that’s already dead.
She is about to leave the house in her pajamas
in search of her “true home,” so I say to her,
in the darkness of the garden, let’s make it another time.
I feel like going out to look for her “true home” with her,
but I see my mother shake her head no, so I let go of the idea.
I do have work tomorrow and it does seem cold outside,
but then, “where” is this place that we’re living now?
Nov. 18th Night
Let’s go find your “true home.”
When one of our family members who hears and sees hallucinations is having a bad day, the rest of the family, including me, feel a bit tired and confused, and wait for her to calm down. We wonder what made her so upset. Was it the conversation that we just had? That could be the reason, but there are times when she becomes this way when nothing seems wrong for us. We can’t understand. She can’t convert the things that she sees into a painting like that famous artist. Occasionally we see exhibitions of “Outsider Art,” but maybe it’s more rare for those people to be able to “express” the things they see and hear. The majority of the people who have mental illness –a word I don’t wish to use so much— are probably struggling to find a way to express themselves and end up relying on medications to live. As for myself, my senses must have been numbed because I was so used to living around people who can draw and design during my college days. I had believed that anyone can make something, but this wasn’t true. Living with my sister again after being apart for few years, I realize there are things that people just can and can’t do. But at the same time I also remember that we can all fill in for each other’s impossibilities.
The words that she speaks when she’s having one of those days are perplexing. That day, she was trying to leave the house to look for her “true home,” although she has been living in the house that she was born and raised. When she’s in her world, we can’t tell if our words are reaching her, and her will of action is so strong that it takes the three of us, or the whole family to stop her. But sometimes we can’t stop her. What are her memories and experiences like when she’s like this? What would become clear to us if we let her do what she wants? Another member of our family is so stressed from living with an elderly and a sick that can’t help but to say to her, “We’ll put you in the hospital again.” I bet there are so many families like this out there. (I don’t know how it is in the urban hospitals, but) The town we live is so rural that the hospital where we can take her puts her in the protection room when she has hallucinations. They say it’s because the actions of patients with such symptoms are unpredictable and that they don’t have enough staffs to look after her.
Protection room is a room where patients who become violent or have hallucinations are put into. Apparently, there’s nothing there. Her doctor too asks her, “Do you want to be hospitalized?” in the same sense to put pressure on her. (Later, when they told the doctor that it hurt us to hear him say that, apparently he apologized, saying that he never meant to threaten her and that he was sorry if he sounded that way.) But this makes it seem like the symptom of having hallucinations itself is a crime. She worries about how she’s going to live alone after our parents die. I say to her, as I eat my breakfast, that we’ll live together like “The Whales of August.” And I wonder if her anxiety is relieved somewhat with these words. Even if I live away from my family someday, I will live with her when I grow old, and she would be and old lady too, living the same years that I have. I understand a little that something other than medication, something about life has a great effect on people who have mental illnesses. Things like love, friends, dreams, and hobbies. Although it sounds so cheesy when I put them into words. Her sphere of life circles around the convenience store and the mall. Her goal in the recent years is to be able to go to day care. I am too, waiting for that something, in life, to happen to her. But we can fall out of the norm together, like this.
Translation KISHIMOTO Sana
hidden names(2014, 2021) is an interview with Dr. Suzuki Akihito, who continues research on early psychiatric care in Japan. It brings into focus a history of psychiatric care in Japan in which the existence of patients has been expunged from society in various ways, from detention in private homes to hospitalization, often going against the practices in other countries. AndWe walk and talk to search your true home(2013) is a record when one day Iiyama’s younger sister walked out of the house, announcing, “This is not my real home,” and Iiyama followed her, accompanying her through the night in search of her real home. What was the “real house” her sister found in the end?
These series of works are presented here in order from the recent work to the earliest. For Iiyama, the starting point was her relationship with her sister, who she had been closest to and yet had difficulty understanding due to mental illness, and from there she broadened her focus to the history of Japanese psychiatry and how Japanese society has created “others.” Viewers here will, on the contrary, experience a narrowing of distance – from a consideration of wider social and historical issues back toward the experiences and thoughts of one person, Iiyama Yuki. (K.E.)
Directed and Edhited by
Online Version re-edited in 2021.
We walk and talk to search your true home
Directed and Edited by
Dialogue and Photography
IIYAMA Chika, IIYAMA Yuki
Born in Kanagawa Prefecture in 1988. Based in Tokyo. Through interviews and research, Iiyama records peoples’ personal lives, experiences and memories, creating videos and installations that examine their relationships with larger historical and social forces. Starting with the work exhibited here, We walk and talk to search your true home, in which she tries to reestablish communication with a sister suffering from mental illness, she has gone on to make what have become her representative works, a series looking at the history and challenges of modern Japanese psychiatry.
Solo exhibition held as part of the APMoA Project at Achi Prefectural Museum of Art in 2015. Major group exhibitions include “Yokohama Triennale 2020” (Kanagawa, 2020), “Nice To Meet You Artechnik” (sendai mediatheque, Miyagi, 2017) and “Doing history!” (Fukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka, 2016).