Past Exhibition

Happy Trail

The Shiseido Gallery will host the exhibition “Happy Trail,” a collaborative project by Yutaka Sone, Damon McCarthy and Eric Allaway.

Three individuals, who each have different professions but are connected by a tight friendship with their mutual love for ski, have come together to create their own handmade skis. "Happy Trail" is a documentary work that traces their entire process by which they make their skis and how they attempt to ski down real slopes using those skis. The summer gallery will transform into the ski-making workshop, while the documentary film tracing the year-long process will be shown on the gallery walls.

Yutaka Sone, who is currently representing the Japanese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, has been living in Los Angeles since 2000. Since, he has taken up characteristic elements of the West Coast such as the freeway and beaches in his art works. His work "Jungle Island," which is now on show at the LA Museum of Contemporary Art, The Geffen Contemporary, situates marble sculptures of the LA freeway interchanges within an artificial tropical forest. As visitors wedge their ways through the dense forest, they confront yet another chaotic milieu (i.e., a jungle), packed with cars and people. The installation draws viewers into a doubly mesmerizing situation.

Another work that Sone created after moving to Los Angeles was "A Beautiful Day," which stemmed from a Sculpture Class that Sone taught at UCLA. Sone had his students make skis and surfboards from scratch, and use them all in one day, taking advantage of the climatic diversity of California. "Happy Trail" is a project that expands this idea, of attempting to express through video and installation, the process by which the three try to ski without the employment of ready-made materials.

Sone, along with filmmaker Damon McCarthy and elementary school teacher Eric Allaway, begin by cutting out sheets of plywood in the form of skis, layering them on top of each other and pressing them together under a handmade press machine. The skis are fabricated through endless trials and errors. While skiing has become a high-tech sport, which nowadays depends on functional and excessively fashionable gear, the three make theirs from simple materials, which they believe is an execution of a very pure act of creation.

Nonetheless, making skis from scratch is an unreasonable act in the first place, and the sometimes humorous and dramatic events that unfold in the video prove the mission to be pregnant with problems and difficulties from the onset. Somewhere along the way, the ultimate goal to ski down real snow with their handmade skis, and the frustrating path to reach that goal seem to be inverted in terms of importance. Consequently, the project may seem less about "leaving a happy trail on fresh snow" but more about "searching for a trail that leads to happiness."

Sone's performance work "Her 19th Foot" was a 19-person bike nearly impossible to ride, which was an apparatus that made the riders realize the true meaning and joy of "moving forward," only because of this difficulty. "Happy Trail" is similar in the way that it is an attempt to visualize the very act of trying something that is inherently impossible and irrational, and the search for the happiness that lies only in the undoubting faith in such an act.

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