Mariko HORI

IF THE WIND BLOWS ( sheep graze upon the ships )

sound installation / winds, fabric, seeds, soil, stones and a collage work / 2023

The project "IF THE WIND BLOWS" investigates the relationship between natural phenomena and contemporary society, drawing inspiration from a well-known classic Japanese proverb: "if the wind blows, the barrel makers prosper." This proverb implies that any event can have unexpected consequences. It captures an intriguing chain of cause and effect in old Japanese society.

The backstory of the proverb explains its meaning: When the wind blew, dust could get into people's eyes, potentially causing blindness. In old Japan, blind individuals often found employment as itinerant shamisen-playing storytellers, creating a demand for shamisen instruments made with animal skins, particularly from cats. Therefore, an increase in blind individuals led to more shamisen purchases, resulting in the killing of cats for their skins. With fewer cats around, the population of mice increased, leading people to store their rice in barrels for protection. This, in turn, increased the demand for barrels, benefiting barrel makers economically.

Although widely recognized in Japanese culture, the true origins and significance of this proverb may not be practical today in our modern society.

"IF THE WIND BLOWS" is an artistic endeavor that revitalizes and reinterprets an ancient Japanese proverb in a contemporary context by creating a new narrative through dialogue with the local community in Elefsina.

Through this project, the artist underscores the interplay between the power of nature and human social dynamics. By exploring how humanity perceives and responds to nature's influence, the project sheds light on our collective existence, shaped by our alignment or defiance toward natural forces. Amid exceptional events like the recent pandemic and participation in the European Capitals of Culture, the artist sees these transitional periods as symbolic moments when the wind blows, signifying unexpected benefits and positive transformations. "IF THE WIND BLOWS" invites us to embrace the belief that every event holds the potential for positive outcomes or the discovery and creation of positive benefits in any situation.

If the wind blows in Elefsina, sheep graze upon the ships

If the wind blows, it may flutter Demeter’s skirt, dispersing the seeds that will nurture the culture.

The wind brings the scent of the sea and the sounds of the factories to the city. These two different realities of Elefsina, where the past meet the present.

We should motivate ourselves to effect positive change; It should be manifested in everyday life, and not just through spoken words.

Foreign influences can bring both the good and the bad. It is essential that the newly spread seeds are beneficial, and will sprout harmoniously with Elefsina and its existing culture. We also need to consider the local people and other living beings, remnants of a more traditional way of life, such as the shepherds and the sheep. The seeds will also provide sufficient and more nutritious food for the sheep, and Elefsina will require more soil to support the newly-spouted greenery.

The ships at VLYCHA Graveyard have found new purpose, as they host some soil. These half-sunken, rusted, old ships now have a new life.

A unique landscape, where sheep graze upon the ships.

Commissioned for2023 Eleusis European Capital of Culture

Supported by EU- Japan Fest Japan committee

Voice Over
English – Shira Wolfe
Greek – Giorgos Konstantinos Dimitrakopoulos
Japanese – Helen Vogt

Project coordination:
Georgia Voudouri – Director of Cultural Development 2023 Eleusis
Neoklis Mantas – Head of Cultural Development 2023 Eleusis

Mystery 169“If the Wind Blows…”
16. September - 01. October. 2023
Old town hall, Elefsina, Greece

The project "IF THE WIND BLOWS" has started in 2021
in collaboration with Artegiro Contemporary Art,  AILAE Associazione Culturale
curated by Renata Summo - O'connell
supported by MAD- Murate Art District in Florence, Italy

All content © Mariko Hori 2023