From 20 March, the Cobra Museum will present the exhibition Humanity’s End as a New Beginning in collaboration with the Amstelveen publishing house Leporello. Thirty watercolours by Japanese-American artist Yuriko Fujita Yamaguchi, painted to accompany an extraordinary collection of myths from all over the world, are on display in the Voordrachtszaal. These old stories, compiled by professor emeritus Mineke Schipper from Amstelveen, each give their vision of what the end of the world might look like, but also of how this could lead to a new beginning.
The end and a new beginning
The end of humanity has fascinated storytellers for thousands of years. Myths show us how people from different places and different times imagined how the world would come to an end. In her paintings, Yuriko Yamaguchi depicts the well-known story of the Deluge, but she also shows how, in a Hindu tale, a fire sets the whole earth ablaze, or how, in a Chinese Han myth, the sky collapses in a catastrophic event. Some stories remind us that humankind has been wiped out before and how life started all over again. In a Japanese myth, the gods actually manage to prevent our End.
Several works in the exhibition are inspired by the dreadful future that awaits us if we do not radically change our behaviour. In light of the alarming levels of pollution and global warming, but also with the current Covid pandemic in mind, Yuriko Yamaguchi’s works have an urgent message: save our fragile and unique planet. It is high time for a new beginning. Now.
Visual artist Yuriko Yamaguchi and writer and professor emeritus of intercultural literature Mineke Schipper met in Italy at a residency for researchers and artists. There, they decided to join forces. The myths about the end of the world that Schipper collected inspired Yamaguchi to make thirty watercolours. Publisher Leporello has brought their work together in the book Humanity’s End as a New Beginning.
Yuriko Yamaguchi (Japan, 1948) is a painter and sculptor. Her work is exhibited in various museums and galleries in the US, Japan and Europe. She has also been commissioned to make works for public spaces, for example at Washington Dulles Airport.
Dr Mineke Schipper has published academic works, literary essays and novels. A few much-translated titles are Never Marry a Woman with Big Feet, Hills of Paradise, and Naked or Covered.
The special collaboration between Yamaguchi and Schipper already led to an exhibition in Japan in 2018. The work was also shown in the US and in the Dutch city of Leiden.