single channel FullHD video with sound
Batumi, country of Georgia

A port town Batumi in Georgia. The area is close to Turkey and nearby the site of the 2008 South Ossetia War with Russia. I stayed and did my research, but the strong community cohesion was impressive. Outsiders couldn’t get in it easily that’s why I was always suspicious. There have the harbor and mountains, we had a party on the street with fresh fish. The location was right on the border of the Muslim and Christian neighborhoods, and we did not need permits to use the road. In the beginning, people looked at it from a distance, but by the time the fish was cooked, some people were waiting with plates, others were bringing wine, and others were serving brandy. A number of toasts sounds were repeated around the table, and in the midst of the frenzy, a hundred fish were soon in the stomachs of the people. The wreckage goes to the table. By the end of the party, I was hugging a lot of people, after that noticed was that humans weren’t the only ones eating the fish!




100 fish

installation view at
Takuro Someya Contemporary Art
Photo by Ken KATO

Masaru Iwai’s video work 100 Fishes or before and after epicure was produced in the Georgian seaside city of Batumi for the art project “Batumi Backyard Stories”, the third event of a cultural initiative that brings together local and international artists, along with city residents to explore and artistically create precious cultural legacies within any given backyard of the city. These placing art in this context mixes history, personal stories, daily practices, and local customs.

For Masaru Iwai, the production of his video involved close working relations with the people living in the neighborhood that was selected for this project. The work is a result of a two-part process, a carefully staged and documented interactive performance and the subsequent video production. The video was first shown in a sauna room of an abandoned bathhouse to backyard dwellers and an invited audience.

The video depicts the cleaning of 100 fish before they were cooked and after the grilled fish was served. The work responds to the artist’s major theme of researching the fine lines between positive and negative outcomes of the same act. Such an act in Masaru Iwai’s artwork is cleansing and washing, something each of us does almost automatically in our everyday lives, and where our accumulated emotions, habits and moods, are often reflected without our conscious involvement.

Magda Guruli (Curator, Batumi backyard stories)