Dialogue between Anna and Hideki (for press release)

English / 日本語


To Hideki | E-mail
03/06/2017 22:33

Dear Hideki,

Your sculptures are beautiful.

I wonder, do you take bone donations?
I am looking for an artist to donate my bones to once I die, to be crafted into artworks.

I am not planning to die soon, but one never knows!

Warm regards, Anna

Re: Bones
Hideki Tokushige

To Anna | E-mail
03/07/2017 02:29

Dear Anna,

Thank you for your E-mail.

What a mysterious question this is!

Do you want to become a bone flower?
Or would you prefer something different?

First of all, I need to know about you.
Because I can not make art without your life.
Could you tell me about you?

Regards, Hideki

Re: Bones

To Hideki | E-mail
03/07/2017 23:05

Dear Hideki,

Would I like to become a bone flower? What a wonderful question to mull over...

Maybe we go on a journey to find out? I can offer my life if you offer your art.

What can I tell you? I am someone who loves questions. I love walking and cycling up hills - any challenges that help me to find new perspectives.

I am living in Singapore just now and saw at the weekend a ship wreck at the Asian Civilisations Museum including some beautiful pieces carved from bone. I just remember thinking what a wonderful thing to do with one's bones...

Has no one ever asked you before? Now that I have, it seems such an obvious thing to do. Donate one's organs to people in need, but donate one's bones to art... And one's flesh to the worms. (Who are themselves curious beings! Do you know, earthworms go in search of food even when they have a plentiful supply? What drives them?)


Re: Bones
Hideki Tokushige

To Anna | E-mail
03/09/2017 16:46

Dear Anna,

I also agree with you.
We have many opportunities to change our perspective in our usual lives.
For humans who don't have sharp tusks or feathers, the greatest ability is imagination. We can change our perspectives using imagination.

For example, if I was a caterpillar...I would transform into a chrysalis. When a caterpillar becomes an adult, I change number of feet, number of eyes, and the shape of mouth. I change food as wellas my movement. I have two different perspectives in one life. To me, it is the same as dying once.
This imagination gives me the unknown perspective of death and life. Who said our journey was only once?


Re: Bones

To Hideki | E-mail
03/11/2017 19:42

Dear Hideki,

Only one journey - perhaps not... But isn't each moment - and each perspective - unique? I love that each snowflake is unique, each organism.

I agree we can change our perspectives using our imagination - and I believe (to some extent at least) change our reality. The future is malleable: we are always shaping it with our eyes shut. Part of my work is in helping people to find new perspectives by imagining various possible future scenarios, and then supporting them to look again at the decisions they could make today.

If each perspective is a new life, then we enrich life by dying frequently!

If that's so, I could become a bone flower today... Perhaps I could begin straight away: what does a bone flower see?


Re: Bones
Hideki Tokushige

To Anna | E-mail
03/17/2017 00:40

Dear Anna,

So interesting!
Perceptive is an important theme, even for Art.

I hope to share your perspectives.
Can we try some practices together?

Please feel the weather at 12 noon, next Sunday.
Sunlight, wind, rain, soil, temperature, humidity...
On the same earth, I will do the same action at the same time.
(Japan time 13:00)

Please recall your snowflakes of the past.

Where were you playing in your childhood? Was it a park? Who did you play with? Was it fun?
What was your favorite toy?
Have you hurt?
What kind of clothes did you wear?
What kind of smell did you like?
Did you go to the hospital?
What kind of pencil were you used?
Were you a shy?
Did you have a secret to your mother?
Have you got a present?
What was your treasure?

Please tell me what you remembered.


Re: Bones

To Hideki | E-mail
03/17/2017 12:59

Dear Hideki,

I will, with pleasure.

Until soon - Anna

Just now

To Hideki | E-mail
03/19/2017 13:13

Dear Hideki - my immediate notes, scribbled just afterwards. I'll write this afternoon with my snowflakes. I appreciate sharing this moment with you. A

Re: Just now
Hideki Tokushige

To Anna | E-mail
03/19/2017 13:21

Dear Anna,

I also shared the same time. Thank you.
I took a video. I will show you later.

Have a nice afternoon.


Re: Just now

To Hideki | E-mail
03/19/2017 19:03

Dear Hideki,

In case you can't read my note earlier, here's what I perceived at noon, in Fort Canning park, Singapore:

‐ The feel of charged air humming around me. It's heavy with moisture, and moving a lot - but not in one direction like a cooling breeze; rather in many directions - 'micro-breezes' that make it feel thicker and warmer.
‐ Definite - thought faint - smell of haze in the air, likely from burning the palm oil fields in Indonesia or Malaysia
‐ The sound of cicadas, and another bird repeating a high note with increasing frequency until it became a trill
‐ The soil was red with clay, with some scattered moss, dashed with gravel, scurrying ants. It smells moist, almost sweaty.
‐ The sun was out but mitigated by haze and humidity.
‐ The sound of light chatter and giggles from families and the groups of foreign domestic workers, mostly from the Philippines, who hang out here on Sundays.

And here are some snowflakes from my childhood, conjured up by your questions:

I played with my friend Emma. She's two years younger than me, and much more of an extrovert, always incredibly beautiful too - large eyes, long dark hair, winning smile. She makes me think of a rainbow, so many colours to her personality. I was quiet, but in her company I laughed a lot. She liked the stories I'd tell her, and they'd become more fantastical because she was the audience. Often we enacted them: in one, she'd be the princess, and I'd be the wolf.

We lived on the same street, opposite a field with sheep and cows, which we could play in. When the grass was long we had a game where we'd run and run and suddenly lie down in the grass, and we couldn't be seen - so whoever lay down last had to find the other. At the end of the field was an air raid shelter from the war - a dark pit with a staircase down and an air vent with a tin lid. Emma was forbidden to play there, but I wasn't - so of course we went. Also at the near end of the field was a huge old ash tree, which I loved to sit under. It was chopped down a few years ago, and I miss its presence everytime I go home. It always inspired awe in me.

My favourite toy was a rag doll called Trudie. I loved her to bits: she was knitted for me by an aunt, and stuffed with wool which hangs out like innards. I knitted a little red scarf for her, and used to twiddle it between my fingers for comfort.

The time I was most hurt (before 10) was when my Mum took me and Emma and my sister and our dog to an old ruined abbey - Fountains Abbey - for a walk. Our dog was small (a spaniel called Brandy) and he caught the attention of two rot weilers. The rot weilers went for our dog, which was behind me, and their leads wrapped around my legs. I was pulled along the ground for metres and suffered friction burns behind my knees, and screamed all the way to hospital!

My clothes were most shorts and t-shirts in summer, jeans and jumpers in winter. Mum liked to give me dresses, but I only remember one that I liked as a kid, that was white with three little ice-creams embroidered on it. (I still like ice cream) As a child I wore all sorts of colours, but remember as a teenager I mostly wore blue. Once I went away with Emma and her mum, and her mum teased me because all the clothes I took were blue.

I liked the smell of lavender - not because it's blue too (!) but because we went to Provence in France when I was about six for a holiday, and I remember the fields. I bought a little bottle (very little) of lavender eau de toilette then, and never wanted to use it because I didn't want to finish it. I am pretty sure it's still full.

I liked coloured pencils and crayons, but remember having to write with an ink fountain pen at school, and liking the shapes the ink made when you gave the pen more or less weight. I love ink painting now - very interested in this art form - which is also a momentary encapsulation of the moment, the breath.

Yes, I was shy and loved to go and sit on my own and think. I was happy in my shyness to some extent, although also under-confident and appearing to some a little serious. (Not everyone could make me laugh like Emma)

My secret from my Mum... I did have many! She has a way of asking me questions that suggest the right answer - "You have done this, haven't you? You didn't do this, did you?", and so mostly I gave the answer she wanted - although I would sometimes joke to let her know that was what I was doing. I burned a hole in the carpet in my room once, and hid it for years under a bean bag. She was incredibly cross when she found it, and smacked me hard - which she rarely did. I couldn't really see the problem, as the bean bag was always there, so no one else ever knew.

A treasured gift was a book given to me by my violin teacher, Stan Holloway - a kind and witty Scottish man. The book was 'Kidnapped' by Robert Louis Stevenson, and it was an old hard-back copy. I had already read it and absolutely loved the book, I knew whole chapters off by heart. My teacher gave me his own copy because he could see how passionate I was about this story (adventure, loyalty, friendship) - which takes place in the Scottish highlands. My Mum took me to Scotland and I went off for a long walk in the hills, imagining myself with the characters. I came back with my jeans absolutely drenched from splashing through rivers - and incredibly happy!


Re: Just now
Hideki Tokushige

To Anna | E-mail
03/22/2017 12:23

Dear Anna,

I will never forget that moment of last Sunday.
All the sounds were clearly heard. All the light was shining.
I was at the canal near my house. I sat facing the east and I felt another existence on the southwest ground.
It was an ordinary Sunday afternoon. But it was special.
It was my first experience.

03/19/2017 01p.m.(Japan time)

And then, yoour answers were perfect!
I felt the feel of grass on my cheeks, felt the coldness of the lavender bottle with my fingers, felt the pain of the leads behind my knees. And I felt like a huge old ash tree appeared in front of my eyes.
I could share some of your childhood perspectives.
I would like to know more. Please let me know when you have time.

Did you exchange something with Emma?
Where did you store a bottle of lavender eau de toilett? What was next to that?
Did you learn a lesson of a violin at teacher's house?
Were you the tall one?
Do you remember the feeling when you first got on the bicycle?
Had you thought you'd like to become a novelist like Robert Louis Stevenson?
Do you remember the story of the princess and the wolf you told Emma?
Did you go for a walk for Brandy?
Did you have a habit or a bad habit?
What was your inferiority complex?
When was your first love?
When did you take an airplane for the first time?
Do you remember the dream that you saw in your childhood?


03/26/2017 01p.m.(Japan time)
< 20170326_01pm
Re: Just now

To Hideki | E-mail
04/10/2017 22:31

Dear Hideki,

I loved your film of that moment, hearing the bells in the background and almost feeling the breeze by the water.

I am on holiday now in the Ha Giang region of northern Vietnam, and can hear many sounds from the rice fields - frogs, cicadas, roosters in the morning, the squeals of hungry pigs.

I will answer your questions... will you also share some of your own snowflakes? The first piece of art you remember making? Your favourite memory of autumn leaves? Some scenes with your childhood friends, some of your old rituals, and the places you go to think and be peaceful...?

Emma and I shared all our time and games, but I don't remember particular gifts. When I was 14, her mother (Avril) gave me a white porcelain figure of a girl reaching up to touch a dove's wing - I found it very beautiful, and was sad when she fell and broke a couple of fingers...

I did want to write novels, and poems - I always wanted to write more than anything... and I have now published a couple of books, but not fiction: they are aspirations for the future, different models for business and society, taking a lot of inspiration from art. As I child I wrote some poems - here's one I remember, which I wrote for a cousin's wedding:

Each year
Nature weds her
Daughters to the trees, and
Crowns the nuptials
With rings.

I do
Not ask a new
Ring every year, but a
Heart as strong as
Trees' roots.

No, I wasn't tall - my sister Ruth was the tall one, and Emma is taller than me now!

I did walk Brandy, often going down a long winding lane called Old Hollins Hill to a village called Esholt, that had a post office, tiny church, little river and pub - and then back home through the woods: pine trees, rhodedhendrons, so many paths and shadows and sounds. I love those woods.

My first love and bad habits I keep for next time... Your turn!


▼▼▼ The continuation can be read at the exhibition ▼▼▼



Anna (b.1983) is interested in how we can be more mindful of our long-term future, as individuals and societies. She is the author of two books exploring the future of business and society, and an innovation coach, helping people explore complex scenarios to become more resilient to change. She also curates the Futures Centre, an online community tracking change for sustainability. In her latest book, The Innovation-Friendly Organization (2017), she asks how organisations can develop a culture that embraces change. In The Brand Strategist’s Guide to Desire (2014), she challenges brands to shift their emphasis from short-term sales to long-term fulfilment. With a background in journalism, Anna was previously editor of the sustainable solutions magazine, Green Futures. She grew up in the UK and studied English and French at Oxford University, followed by a Masters in Gender Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

Hideki Tokushige


Born in Kagoshima Prefecture, 1974. Presently residing in Tokyo.
2004 He picks up a dead racoon dog on the road and takes it home. For the first time, he tries dissecting it with the guidance of a reference book his junior high school science teacher had written called “The School of Bones”. At first, he could not touch it with his bare hands or look into its eyes.This experience made the artist realize that he knew nothing about the biology of living creatures. Racoon dogs and human beings are both mammals. This was the moment when he noticed that he knew nothing about the human body.
2008 He starts creating flowers with bones. From his experience through dissecting the raccoon dog, the bones he would use needed to be those of a mammal. Since rodents had the most orthodox frame, he chose to use their bones. During his time working as a forklift truck driver, he created 4 bone flowers, but he did not show it to anyone, or exhibit his works.
2011 For the first time, he presents his work at an art event called “YOUNG ARTISTS JAPAN Vol.4” and wins the Grand Prix. His career as an artist begins.

I cannot make art without your life.

Hideki’s work deconstructs life in a very literal way, rebuilding it as art. Today, as rapid technological and environmental change puts immense pressure on fundamental human systems, we’re finding we have to undo and rebuild almost every aspect of our lives - from our food to our work. Why not begin with our bones?


Would I like to become a bone flower?

I am always drawn to the possibility of new ‘becomings’. In each life, and each moment, they are so many unfurled worlds. If we can become aware of the constructs that hold us, we can challenge them, uncovering new possibilities for ourselves. I don’t see any lack of integrity in this: it never makes sense to me to associate integrity with a single iteration of one’s self.


For humans who don’t have sharp tusks or feathers, the greatest ability is the imagination.

This is the line, from all those Hideki wrote, that stays with me most: ‘For humans who don’t have sharp tusks or feathers, the greatest ability is the imagination’. To see a rodent’s carcass and imagine its journey to an ethereal flower: not only imagine but create! I see this as the inner work we all need to be doing: reimagining ourselves.


Who said our journey was only once?

One choice we always have is to take a new perspective. There’s a lot of talk of the need for empathy today, as societies polarize and fracture. If we want to understand each other better, we have to learn to quieten ourselves and to listen, opening our long-held beliefs and assumptions to change. This is very difficult: akin, you might say, to taking apart one’s bones and putting them back together.


I am starting a new journey in words. A letter to my periods,

Our dialogue has many turns. From bones, we move to flesh. It may surprise readers of the dialogue when I share with Hideki that I am writing to my menstrual cycle! To me, it felt rather like noting the sensations of sitting in Fort Canning Park. I wanted to increase my awareness of my inner cycle, and strengthen my relationship with it. I had done it some harm through under-eating and over-exertion, a poor way of coping some minor personal traumas. Putting this into words was therapeutic.
Now, I see some interesting synergies between this confession and Hideki’s work: if I offer to give my bones to art, why not also my blood? Of course, many female artists have experimented with this, and gender theorists have investigated the relationship between women’s bodies and the public realm.


I have a rule to eat their flesh a little bit.

I realise why it is so important for Hideki to ‘taste’ the lives of his works - whether by consuming the flesh of the rodents, or my memories - the unique ‘snowflakes’ we share. I have come to see it as a visceral act of empathy.


I am interested in projecting these giving / receiving relationships on my work now.

The more I look, the more synergies I see between my seemingly random mention of menstruation and Hideki’s work. The ‘Otome’ (‘maiden’) Camellia features in Honebana - so-called because it contains both red and white pigments. In Alexandre Dumas’ novel, La Dame aux Camelias, the heroine - a courtesan, engaged literally in sexual exchange - wears the same flower in white or red to show lovers when she is on her cycle. And as Hideki reminds me, you can also see the eleven months of our dialogue as a cycle, moving through the seasons. You could say every human exchange is an outpouring followed by a waiting, a song of call and response.


where we place the limits to our fragile classifications,

Today, surveillance is becoming ever more intimate, taking the choice of what to share from us. Facial recognition and body scans are becoming customary aspects of our daily experience, from airports to offices. In the home, our fridges and bathrooms are developing the capacity to keep checks on our health. So, while our Dialogue prompts Hideki to ask, ‘Whose is the death?’, it also prompts me to think about who owns our bodies in life.