Short introduction for Simon's lecture on "Shibusawa and dolls"
| Simon Yotsuya (1944- ) began to make dolls when he was about ten years
old by self education. Therefore, at the first step of his creative activity,
he had no artistic consciousness nor creative intention for doll-making.
He was only a strange pupil who loved dolls and made dolls by himself.
Soon after, he began to be conscious of doll-making and to go to see many doll's exhibitions. At this second step, he also began to imagine his future as a doll maker who would make similar dolls to those which were exposed in these exhibitions.
By the way, like other crafts, arts, and literatures, there was a large disconnection between Edo period and Meiji period in the field of Japanese doll-making. In Edo period, they all were only toys or objects of amusement. But in Meiji period, when people were conscious of Western civilisation, and promoted modernisation of Japan in various fields, traditional crafts and so on were considered to be "Art", and were requested some expressive or creative intentions. The field of doll-making could not be the exception.
At the second step which had passed over the time of his head off for doll-making, the dolls which appeared before young Simon's sight were those "Artistic" ones. He once persued this direction, but gradually began to wonder himself of them. The questions which occured in his mind were thus. Were not the dolls which he and the surroundings were making a kind of "small scruptures"? Isn't there some essential differences between dolls and scruptures as Art? But he couldn't find the answer by himself and he continued to bother himself for a long time.
What resolved Simon's questions at a stretch was an article by Tatsuhiko Shibusawa (1928-87) on a magazine which Simon read by accident in 1965 and a photo of Hans Bellmer's doll which was attached to that article. Bellmer's doll was jointed its head, body, arms and legs with large balls and by turning these balls it could assume various poses. The fact that "the doll moves" and therefore the doll need not to be fixed in a pose (= in a signification) shocked Simon enormously. Untill this decisive moment, Simon made stuffed dolls which did not move and fixed in particular poses. He understood soon that if a doll can assume various poses, it would be liberated from the particular intention of its creator. So, at the very moment when Simon realized this fact, he threw away all the materials for his dolls and from that day he began to make articulated dolls exclusively. Here, we must remember incidentally that one of Bellmer's literal interest was anagram although this ground is out of Simon's notice. May be Simon also undersood this literal ground unconsciously and deeply in his mind. Meaninglessness is very important element for his activity.
Because Simon seldom read notional books, he had never heard of Shibusawa's name nor Shibusawa was a translator of the works of Marquis de Sade, which were accused to be obscene and occuerd a very influential trial. On the contrary, by knowing the existance of Shibusawa, Simon began to read the works of Sade which had translated by Shibusawa.
Curiously, two years later from the encounter with that article, Simon was introduced to Shibusawa by their common friend Kuniyoshi Kaneko, a painter. Since this meeting Simon and Shibusawa became good friends. Shibusawa himself appriciated Simon's talent and works which appeared suddenly before his sight. Shibusawa loved Simon's doll and finally put a girl's doll made by Simon before his writing desk in the study. By this reason, Simon's doll became a symbol of Shibusawa's literal activity represented by Sade's translations.
Not only translated and interpreted Sade's works, but also Shibusawa wrote various critics on literatures and on fine arts. In these critics, he pointed the necessity of the disorganization of the modern literal and artistic works written or made under the composer's particular intentions. For him, dolls belonged to the territory of toy, and they should be appreciated highly by themselves as what were situated at the front line of the disorganization of the works under the conscious activities.
Thus, not by reading but by intimate frienship with Shibusawa, Simon understood Sade's thought which were interpreted by Shibusawa himself and Shibusawa's view and criticism for the arts through the human connection.
By these courses all, Simon always says. "The doll, is merely the doll. The doll is not a figure of someone who exist nor the figulation of some ideas." "I express nothing by my dolls. Simply, I create dolls which I want to create." As for the titles of his dolls, because he dislikes to give clear intention or signification by them, most of his works are entitled only "girl's doll", "mecanical boy" or "woodframed girl" etc. by their physical constitutions.
Some feels a doll is beautiful and another considers it's awful. But all these conclusions are made at the inside of the appreciators. Simon creates dolls apart from all these emotions and intentions (t.s.).
Index page for Shibusa (Japanese)
About Tatsuhiko Shibusawa (French)
Japanese version of this introduction