WORKS / Héritage

"From fossils to digital through printing, photography, and video, Adoka Niitsu questions the filiation of the media for creating and reproducing images, and interprets the anthropological tracks that result from it with a poetic approach.

In the exhibition "Héritage", she uses the figure of the horse again but this time to symbolize the invention of photography ("Man Leading a Horse", Niépce) and the cinema ("Horse in motion", Muybridge ), to symbolize this movement that traces the History of Man (that of technology, therefore), from the Stone Age to the Atomic Age."

Text by Hannibal Volkoff, Artistic Director of Galerie Hors-champs

La mise en abyme
Photo at Study Room of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 2017,
Adoka Niitsu

Etching, Anonymous (Detail of prints)
18th century / Copied from 17th century's Dutch Etchings
(Collection of Artiste)

Left : La mise en abyme # MakiToshima, Chromaluxe, 20 x 30cm (7.8 x 11.8 in), Kobe, Japan, 2017
Right: La mise en abyme # NorikoMitsuhashi, Chromaluxe, 20 x 30cm (7.8 x 11.8 in), Rotterdam, 2017

Etchings, Anonymous (Detail of prints)
18th century / Copied from 17th century's Dutch Etchings (Collection of Artist)

Drawing on old paper, Light box,
Dimension of paper : 44.5 x 33 cm ( 17.5 x 13 in ), Adoka Niitsu, 2017

Héritage #16071945
Lithographic limestone of solnhofen,
Dimension of the stone : 14.5 x 7.5 x 0.9 cm (5.7 x 2.95 x 0.35 in),
Dimension of glass box L20 x W40 x H25 cm (7.8 x 15.7 x 9.8 in),
Adoka Niitsu, 2017
(Image source : The Trinity test detonation photo by Jack Aeby / Public Domain)


What remains? What disappears? What should be left? What should be removed? I am searching for a visible path from old media to today's computer technology, but the path is entangled. I examine techniques and mediums. I replaced, I added, and I mixed. This is a diary of the process.

- Adoka Niitsu
29th August 2012
Where does it come from? After having experience in making lithography work, I could not stop thinking about the material of lithography - limestone. I learned that best quality stone plate was from Solnhofen, in Germany. I subsequently needed to go to see the birthplace, the source. Finally, I arrived in Munich to visit the quarries. I wanted to enjoy the city, but people said don't go to the center of city tonight. At that time I did not understand why…

30th August 2012
The Strata from Upper Jurassic eras was so beautiful. I put chisel to the stone and hit by hammer, the layer of stone was peeled like a turning the page of book of history of the earth. Each fragment of stones were including many different fossils and telling their story of life from 145 million years ago. I discovered that limestone was already a media which keeps and transfer images. Thanks to the help of my friend, who has a driver’s license, I was able to bring back many stones in my suitcase.

I finally realized why they told me not to visit the city. The center was blocked because a bomb from World War II was found beneath the site of a former nightclub. The huge explosion after the controlled detonation was larger than expected. It’s a strange contrast between a fossil and a bomb; both were preserved deep underground… what foolishness it is that we buried bombs and nuclear waste on this beautiful earth?

9th February 2013
During my research into the history of lithography, I knew that Nicéphore Niépce was interested in lithography (before his invention of photography) and I saw the most oldest photomechanical process image called “Cheval avec son conducteur (A man leading a horse)” on the Internet. Is this just a coincidence or...? In the history of imagery, one of the first moving image by Eadweard Muybridge was also “Horse in Motion”. The horse clearly played an important role in human life, in agriculture, transportation, and in war - until we started to use technology – “The Extensions of Man” (Marsall McLuhan). In fact, many advanced technologies like the internet or GPS were developed and used for the purposes of war.

« Un cheval avec son conducteur » Joseph Nicéphore Niépce
Héliography, 10 x 14.7 cm, 1825
Source © Bibliothèque nationale de France

18th February 2013
I started to experiment with limestone from my trip to make a lithography print. Polishing smoothly, drawing on the surface… it was like a dialogue and collaboration with each small stone.

24th August 2014
Trip to Santa Fe in New Mexico. I visited at “Kasha-Katuwe”, meaning 'white cliffs’, named after an American Indian word. After climbing up severe slopes through layers of volcanic curious shaped rock, I enjoyed a view from the top. The sky was so blue, clouds were floating like islands, it reminds me painting of Georgia O'Keeffe. At the same time, I was thinking about there is a place of first atomic bomb test site over this beautiful view….

22nd April 2015
Addition, addition, addition... Drawing and painting during the night in Paris. Inducing the randomness and to calling attention to details. All details are connected. The result of accumulation of hand movements became an abstract image that reveal a question for the perception of human beings. These images are medium for my mind and viewer’s mind.

6th July 2016
What is this origin of image “Cheval avec son conducteur” by Niépce? – Again I was asking my self. I accessed database of Bibliothèque nationale de France, and learned that this image was “copy” of Dirk Stoop’s Etching. “Somebody” copied by hand and made etching print, and Niépce used this reproduction of print to make his heliography. In addition these prints were multiple. So, the origin of photography was already “copy of copy”… simulacre.

3rd March 2017
Travel to Netherlands to see my friends. We visited in Haarlem and we saw statue of Laurens Janszoon Costerm who is legendary, believed to be the inventor of the printing press prior to Gutenberg. Teylers Museum collected Dirk Stoop’s horse etching but I could not see it. However, they were showing a massive collection of fossils from Solnhofen.

4th March 2017
Appointment at Study room of Rijiks Museum in Amsterdam. Conservator had already prepared Dirk Stoop’s etching print from their archive. Finally I could see in my real eyes. Moreover two prints! They were same prints but not same in small details. One was stronger image, the other’s hatching line was little bit faded because copper plate was worn down after printed many times. Multiple, but analog print is not like a digital copy, each one has their own each life.

23rd March 2017
Who did this reproduction of Dirk Stoop’s etching by hand? After my travels, I was still researching. Finally, I came across found the same etching print by an anonymous person, and it arrived at my place. It was one of the prints from the series of animal studies etching print copied after Dutch Artists of Golden Age, including Dirk Stoop. Appropriated and mirrored, the background landscape was deleted, and especially small lines by hand movement was different from Dirk Stoop’s. Even if this document had no real historical value, the originality of its execution appeared to me to be genuinely valuable.

11th May 2017
I felt it’s time to see real horses, so I visited at an equestrian club in Bois de Boulogne. Smell of horse, soft touch of horse skin, and rhythm of trot, and body language… it was full of sensory input. Today, for many people, riding horses is a healing, restorative activity. It is so happy to see the spectacles of children were enjoying riding horses.

16th May 2017
Preparing my exhibition. Like my last three exhibitions (2012, 2013 et 2015 in Galerie Hors Champs in Paris), this time again, it will present a variety of techniques: painting, printing, photography and video installation. Through my investigation of history of images and technology, extending the scope of my work, I have expanded my range of medias to an extended practice to find the new perspectives for the upcoming new age.

Adoka Niitsu

* Nicéphore Niépce (1765-1833)
French inventor. One of the inventors of photography and a pioneer in that field. He called his invention as Heliographs (from the Greek helios meaning sun and graphein meaning to write).
After years of experimenting to produce a permanent image from a camera obscura, Niépce created the oldest photograph of a real world scene, “Le Point de vue du Gras”(the View from the Window at Le Gras) in 1826 or 1827. He was associated with Louis Daguerre (1787-1851) , but died in the middle of the process.
Daguerre continued development, he invented Dagurreotype which is the first publicly available photographic process.

* Dirk Stoop (1615–1686)
Born in Utrecht, Dirk Stoop was a widely travelled painter and engraver of the Dutch Golden Age, he made landscapes, hunting scene, portraits artworks. He had several artist names for each country. He made a series of prints of “12 horses” in 1951.

* Lithography
When German playwright / actor Alois Senefelder (1771-1834) was seeking an inexpensive printing method, he accidentally noticed the repulsive nature of water and oil on the stone, and invented in 1796 planographic printing. “Lithos” meaning 'stone' by Ancient Greek.
Later, it became possible to print a large amount of multicolor printing, and fascinated by artists like a Toulouse-Lautrec in Paris, opened up a new artistic field of applied art and multiple art, as well as advertisement and political intention, poster as public space in city space stimulated people's lifestyle and pushed the modernization by the power of image. It is also a technology that forms the basis of today’s offset printing and is also applied to printing technology of semiconductor microchip of computer and smartphone called "photolithography" combined with method of lithography and photography.

* 16th July 1945
Date of the first atomic bomb test in the history. As part of the "Manhattan Project", the United States Army conducted the explosion at New Mexico, the bomb nicknamed "The Gadget" was exploded at 05:29:21, with an energy equivalent to around 20 kilotons of TNT. At this precise moment the atomic age began.

Remerciements : Noriko Mitsuhashi, Maki Toshima, Laurent Lafont-Battesti, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Rijiks Museum d’Amsterdam, Atelier Idem Paris, Atelier Michel Woolworth, Cité Internationale des Arts, Société d'Equitation de Paris
English text: Co-translated by Kiefer Marien
French text check : Laurent Lafont-Battesti
Video "One Thousand Hundred Horse Power" & Exhibition View (Total: 4min48sec)