Traci Consoli-Korenaga

Traci Consoli-KorenagaOccupation:
Time in Japan:
Eight and a half years.

What do you do here?
I make things. There' no other way to describe it. I paint, I do sculpture, I make furniture, I've done stage design, costume design. Food, too, food is definitely part of the art work. My food looks like paintings and my paintings look like you could eat them. Even my furniture looks like it's edible or going to come to life. Either you could eat it, or it could eat you.

Where are you from?
California. I went to college in Santa Barbara where I majored in studio art and religious studies. A very good way to get a job. Oh yes, those are two highly paid fields.

What brought you to Japan?
I graduated and Ronald Reagan was president so I had to escape that. I needed to go somewhere else until he was well out of office, but I had no idea I'd be here for this long.

What do you like about Japan most?
I like the safety factor, the food and I enjoy the people that I meet here. It's a very interesting, eclectic place to live. But I would prefer not to be here constantly, I'd like to travel more.

Are you planning to stay?
I see myself probably having a permanent base here, but not necessarily living here.

What do you dislike about Japan most?
The crowds. Crowded spaces really bother me because I'm a bit claustrophobic. The other thing is just people operating on auto-pilot, behaving like if it's not in the book of rules it doesn't exist or can't be done. Why can't one government official for once think of something on their own?

Tell us about your next exhibition.
Well, there will be five of us, two artists, two designers and a scientist. People are always putting us into separate boxes, but this a chance to see what we can do together. There isn't much dialogue about this sort of thing in Tokyo, so that's what we'd like to provoke. This particular show will be about light. The gallery we're holding it in is painted all black, so it should be really interesting.

Do you organize your CDs alphabetically?
That's a concept that doesn't exist in my household.

What's the weirdest thing you've ever seen or experienced in Japan?
There have been so many weird things. I have had lots of chikan (pervert) experiences. It always surprises me the weird things that perverts do. When I first came to Japan I lived in Osaka. This guy came up to me. I found out later he does it to all the foreign girls, and offered to pay me JY5000 to buy my socks or stockings. He'll pay JY10,000 if you'll watch him masturbate with them. That's pretty weird. So are vending machines that sell used high-school girls' panties.

Where would you like to be when the big one hits?
Not here, that's for sure. Not in my apartment or studio. Definitely not in my studio. We tried to install a curtain there, but couldn't find a beam in the ceiling strong enough to drill into. And there's another floor above us!

You have to spend the rest of your life trapped on the Yamanote line. You're allowed to take one book, one CD and one luxury item. What would they be?
I don't think I'd take a CD player because I break all electronic equipment anyway. It's so bizarre. I've got four broken VCRs, a broken computer and a broken fax machine. The book would have to be something really long and difficult, like Gray's Anatomy or War and Peace. My luxury item would be a stove to cook on. I don't think I could survive without cooking. Also, it would be very hard to paint on the Yamanote, it wouldn't be very inspiring. I think you'd come up with a lot of stress paintings. A lot of red.

Traci Consoli-Korenaga's work can be seen from October 27 at Le Deco gallery in Shibuya. To see her work before then, or to place commissions, call 3323 1529.

Traci Consoli-Korenaga spoke to Nigel Kendall.

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