Rice Deity (2014), a walk-in installation newly produced for this exhibition encompassing a third of the gallery space, consists of 4,200 handmade strings of rice grains hung from the ceiling, as well as used utensils and an old table collected from antique markets in Shanghai. Ishizuka spent 18 months developing the work, which was first conceived for a 2009 project in Echigo-Tsumari, an area known for its top quality rice production in Japan, and exhibited in an old deserted Japanese house. The artist immersed herself in researching rice production, living and working with rice farmers for six months. She views rice as the seeds of life, representing warmth, nourishment and sustenance, with the threads of rice symbolising the link between the past and the present in an infinite chain of life.
By presenting Rice Deity in Shanghai, a modern environment with its own rice culture, Ishizuka mentioned the human affinity with rice and its centrality to lived culture in Asia are mutual in both Japan and China, and by collecting used utensils in Shanghai, the artist creates the connection between her work and the city’s past and history.