About the Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner

(Marking Triangles)
2017, Japan, Ethiopia, Greece
Installation (C-prints, stamps, newspapers, books, leporello)
Video, 10:20 min.

 

It is the statue of the Ethiopian marathon runner Abebe Bikila at the St. Joseph cemetery of the Ethiopian capital: Bikila wins the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rome on 12 September 1960 as the first African Olympic champion to finish the track in 2:15:16 hours and as the only athlete barefoot. His victory is a triumph for a whole continent and he succeeded in repeating his Olympic triumph in Tokyo in 1964.

When the statue of the athlete in the cemetery in Addis Ababa was deliberately damaged by strangers in 2007, a Japanese sports photographer and the director of the Japanese agency Agence SHOT in Tokyo started a fundraising campaign. Three years after the damage, the restored statue was unveiled again. Today, however, the cemetery has fallen victim to new urban development projects. Only the sculpture of Abebe Bikila defies the changes; Like the runners in this film, who train in the middle of the city on Meskel Square the central public square in Addis Ababa.

„In the film and the installation Raul Walch pictures Tokyo, Japan, and Greece. Images of Addis Ababa and recordings in Tokyo told that the Olympic tracks melt with Greek impressions. He traveled back to the origin of the discipline – to Marathon in Greece. He measured distances, which are physically ran in sports by filming and follows movements of the people and the traffic of flow through the cities. The transfer of news that underlies the myth of the marathon is dissolved in the crossing of time and space when the artist visually interweaves urban structures in Addis Ababa, Tokyo and Marathon, which then resemble and overlap. Recognition and comparison becoming a meditation on the connection between very distant places.“

 

Exhibition views from

Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture, Tokyo Wonder Site Shibuya, photos by Ken Kato

and

Japanese Cultural Institute Cologne, Japan Foundation, photos by Yuichiro Tamura