Stranger’s Window, Nation’s Mirror, 2020
Two-way mirror, false wall, wooden frame, plant from the artist's backyard, spray bottle, water, grow light, fan
Stranger’s Window, Nation’s Mirror is a site-specific work that utilizes the features of a false wall. On one side of the wall, viewers see a spray bottle filled with liquid and attached so that its nozzle is directed inside of the wall. When viewers walk around to the other side of the wall, they see a wooden oval frame hanging on it. It appears to be an ordinary mirror. However, when approaching directly, viewers see not only their reflections in the mirror but also a reflection of a plant which does not exist in the real space behind them. Upon closer observation, viewers notice that the plant they see in the mirror is not a reflection at all but an object placed inside the wall, and the mirror is not an ordinary mirror but a two-way mirror. Two-way mirrors are normally situated so that one side serves as a mirror and the other side a window. In this case, because of precise lighting conditions, the two-way mirror functions as both a mirror and a window at the same time and from the same side. It is at this point that it may also become clear that the purpose of the spray bottle situated on the opposite side of the wall is to water the plant within. There is a small garden behind the apartment Hamaguchi rents in Brooklyn. While quarantining during the pandemic, she often looked out over the garden through her window. There are many weeds and only a few intentional plants likely planted long ago by the property owner. One day, she discovered one of the intentional plants is called a Japanese spindle tree. As its name suggests, the plant originates from Japan. Hamaguchi immediately felt a sense of closeness toward it. Perhaps like the plant, she too has made a home in a nowhere of her own. As she has now spent sometime in the United States, she feels like she would be an outsider in Japan. And yet she is an outsider in the US as well. The space where she belongs is somewhere in between—like the plant’s location within the wall. Whether or not we are immigrants, we all have some part of us that remains caught in between—neither here nor there but somewhere that is nowhere. In Stranger’s Window, Nation’s Mirror, viewers see their familiar reflection in the mirror but also catch a ghostly glimpse of the plant trapped in the wall—the unexpected Other situated in a precarious place. On the surface of the two-way mirror, the Other merges with the known self—a reminder to look out for what hides in the spaces between and within, and to take a closer look at where we ourselves stand.