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washitsu (slippery area)

The layout of a tatami room and the heaviness of the mats give an impression of stability, but it also remind us of the juxtaposition of tectonic plates, constantly in motion – and in tension – which cause instability of the earth landscape (seisms, volcanic eruptions, tsunami, landslides…).

The rubber mats, sometimes used under tatami mats to prevent moisture from seeping, are made of rubber, a waterproof material related to rain (rubber boots) and to moving devices (car tires, conveyer belts…), while their thickness, made of foam, is like a sponge that can absorb and retain water. It is related to water, but dirty water – mud, rain on the road, filthy or toxic liquid we would prefer not to enter in contact with –, used for rain boots, tires, dish-washing or laboratory gloves.

At night, most of the architectures are lit up with the green light of exit panels: they allow us to see just enough to pass through the buildings, but their light means ‘no light’: neither a sign of presence nor invitation to enter. Moreover, it highlights the architectural properties and makes sure that we do never forget where to go out. In the gallery, the source of the light is hidden from us, its green and white reflection seems to float on the concrete ceiling. The space is permanently in standby, we visit it like it is when nobody is supposed to be there.

A pair of slippers is waiting (as we find everywhere in Japan at the entrance of a private room or bathrooms, Izakaya or temples...) on the ceiling, in front of the window, turning the space upside down. Slippers are 'shoes' for in-between spaces in Japan, inside but outside the washitsu area. The word contains the idea of a continuous and strange adhesion to the floor. This pair of slippers can also figure a quiet presence, looking through the window like we can do at home by a rainy day, between boredom and contemplation.

Everything remains unchanged inside the room, but at dusk, the sunlight leaves room to the only still-on-no-matter-what green light, and the place – or our feeling of it – begins to shift.

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