Portmanteau (Nostos)




1580mm x 890 mm (5ft2in x 2ft11in) six nylon fabric, aluminum pipes, wire, magnets

Portmanteau (Nostos) is a single-channel video installation projected through six pieces of nylon, all suspended in mid-air. Nostos takes its namesake from the Greek root of “nostalgia”—a combination of nostos meaning “return home” and algos meaning “pain”, while the blurred rendering through fabric itself is named after “portmanteau” meaning two words blended into one. Portmanteau can be seen as an apt description into the ways this piece ultimately explores the multiplicity of self; this includes a nod to the French word for door “porte”, a key visual in Nostos signifying an entry into different dimensions, further complicated by the fabric multiplying it into endless portals opening and closing onto one another. Sources such as “The Future of Nostalgia” by Svetlana Boym (2000) as well as others from antiquity such as Janus the Roman god of doors, and the “Theatre of Memory”, a mnemonic technique by 16th century Italian philosopher Giulio Camillo in which memories are affixed to specific physical places reimagined in the mind also inform the excavation of memory.


Combining personal archives from the US as well as my natural surroundings in Japan, Nostos follows my character flitting in and out of a dreamscape and coming in contact another version of myself, played by my younger sister. While my body moves within my dream world and real world in tandem with one another, Portmanteau (Nostos) explores the interstitial states between dream and reality, subject and object, memory and myth, illustrating what Boym wrote in that “reflective nostalgia has a capacity to awaken multiple planes of consciousness”.

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At KUA ANNUAL 2022, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Feb 24-26


© Kei Ota