Rebecca’s research project is centred around kuzu, also known as kudzu, a plant with historical importance in East Asia as a bast fibre source. Kuzu was easily found around the peninsula, along the road and especially on the retaining wall of the water reservoir. The plant is a climbing or trailing vine and its foliage is recognised as a highly invasive species globally, with ties to colonial and military pursuits. Kuzu is also well-known for its versatile uses, both in traditional medicine and culinary applications. In traditional Asian medicine, kuzu has been used for various purposes, including treating colds, digestive issues, and promoting overall health.
Rebecca’s journey with kuzu began upon arriving in Japan in 2021, using the plant as a way to forge a connection with the Hiroshima landscape, steeped in the history of the first atomic weapon used in warfare. During the summer of 2022, she delved into the traditional kuzu fibre process under the guidance of Murai-sensei at Ooigawa Kuzu-fu Weaving Studio, one of the few studios preserving centuries-old knowledge of kuzu cloth production.
At Ma Umi Residencies, Rebecca expanded her fibre experimentation with local plants, including two different types of kuzu, shell ginger, banana leaves, and washed-up coconuts. Her journey commenced with the selection of a large tree at the Pink Turtle beach from where she began collecting drifted artefacts, fauna, and flora. She arrived with the intention to craft atang, or offerings, for the island itself, for peace and our common harmony.
Drawing inspiration from archival images and the modern practice of object dedications and arrangements, these offerings reflected the artist’s experiments in altar-making. Our garden flowers found a fitting location within a washed-up bottle from China. Fragments of a flag from American Veterans, drifted bamboo, shells and rocks, were rearrange around. Each morning, the area surrounding the tree was taken over by numerous hermit crabs and birds.
During this phase of Rebecca's residency, her installations and performances were kept private. She devoted time to reading poems, singing to the sea, and connecting with other souls affected by the pain, chaos, and destruction of wars. Some of these moment were documented as a photographic series by Alex Wohn, a fellow artist from Hiroshima City University. Together they aimed to craft sculptural pieces using fragments of textiles retrieved from the ocean, while also filming and documenting the ritual water immersion and storytelling process.
The conclusion of the residency received a positive response from the community, particularly those with an interest in plants and herbal medicines. Everyone participated by bringing unique fruits and herbs, and explained the various benefits of each. During this shared experience, a dynamic exchange of knowledge took place, resembling an interactive game where participants, gathered around food and drinks, had an opportunity to learn from one another.
Rebecca Maria Goldschmidt is an interdisciplinary artist, activist, and educator engaging in place-based art-making and learning. She is currently a Doctoral Student in Sculpture, Hiroshima City University. Previously, she received a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawai’i, and a Bachelor of Arts in German Studies at the Lewis & Clark College in Portland, US.
Her current work reflects on her studies of the Ilokano language and cultural practices of both her Jewish and Filipino ancestors. Working primarily in photography, video, fibres, and performance, She frequently collaborates with local organisations to promote the exchange of knowledge across generations and cultures.