Meaning of Making Series: Natsu-mikan (summer orange) Marmalade 2019 / 2019


2019 has turned to be the worst year of my life, yet life goes on, seasons return, and the world keeps revolving as precariously as it appears. In the backyard of my family home, an old natsu-mikan (summer orange) tree has once again produced hundreds of fruit, just like many others that grow wild in the area which no one, except for squirrels and some birds, really cares about. One third of our oranges fall on the ground before the summer even arrives contrary to the name. Some years, they had to be thrown away but we have always tried to consume as many of them as we could for as long as I can remember.

The spring of 2019 has been no exception despite the heartrending circumstance. I was determined not to waste a single fruit and decided to make our usual marmalade even more rigorously and professionally, perhaps as a therapy. As always, it is 100% organic with zero pesticides or additives (not even pectin), sweetened with half the amount of non-white sugar (naturally). This time I selected jars carefully and planned design-y labels like those Etsy pros or hipster confiture venders, vaguely hoping to make a small profit that may help me through this time of my life in crisis. Then I thought, "Why not? I'd edition them". It is my serious and full-on production, my making, and after all, I started as a printmaker back in school. Does editioning make it art? What makes what art? What makes us what? What makes what what?

"Portraits" of all these numbered jars of marmalade, shot around the house will be online, where the marmalade buyers have a single access to a high-resolution, printable companion image of their editioned marmalade they had purchased, with a unique passcode found on the bottom of each jar. Once opened, the marmalade itself may expire within a few weeks, or, the unopened, vacuum-sealed jar could last forever with an edition number and my signature on its label. The production may continue until all the oranges on our tree are gone, while the suite number will change for each batch with some of them marked as varied editions (ve). The price may also vary depending on where and how they are sold, just like the value of the photograph that the marmalade buyer may (or may not) print.

My editioned marmalade is absolutely delicious, pure, and pretty. It has occurred to me (and surely to others) that I might have been in the wrong trade all these years, but I know I am in the right place to think about art and beyond, to imagine life and beyond, in style and with no prescribed values.

Meaning of Making: Natsu-mikan Marmalade might happen again next year, but only once a year. Or our old tree may die and stop producing anything. It is a "limited edition" production and experience. Life is a limited edition.

Spring 2019
in Japan 


You CAN have your [marmalade] and eat it, too



*Between 2003 and 2006, I worked on a couple of loosely related projects called Meaning of Making Series.  In this series, I wanted to examine the meaning and function of (object-)making and the function of the made objects in relation to so-called art-making, or the identity of the maker as an artist.  As with many of my “examinations”, what have remained are not only hard-to-identify objects (are they utensils or artwork, or even merchandize?), but also the never-resolved dilemma that accompanies our human desire to make things including my own.

The idea of "non-production" has become increasingly significant in recent years; many claim that it might be the only solution to the rampage of capitalism (and capitalist thinking and lifestyle) at a root of our destruction of society and the planet.  A number of artists, who are “producers” by definition, have also attempted to embody such an idea.  My own journey has continued in the most obscure and perhaps futile ways, as reflected in this latest incarnation of Meaning of Making Series and other recent projects.