Pradžia / Radikaliai

Warren Scherich and modern Totemism: making of Dogūs

Dogū (土偶) (meaning "clay figures") are small humanoid and animal figurines made during the late Jōmon period (14 000–400 BC) of prehistoric Japan. A Dogū come exclusively from the Jōmon period. By the Yayoi period, which followed the Jōmon period, Dogū were no longer made. There are various styles of Dogū, depending on exhumation area and time period. According to the National Museum of Japanese History, the total number found throughout Japan is approximately 15 000. Dogū were made across all of Japan, except Okinawa. Most of the Dogū have been found in eastern Japan and it is rare to find one in western Japan. The purpose of the Dogū REMAINS UNKNOWN and should not be confused with the clay haniwa funerary objects of the Kofun period (250–538). [wikipedia]

Mindaugas Peleckis
2014 m. Spalio 11 d., 05:47
Skaityta: 830 k.
Dogūs by Warren Scherich. Photo by Kathy Schlabach-Jones.
Dogūs by Warren Scherich. Photo by Kathy Schlabach-Jones.

Warren Scherich makes Dogūs. He answered to some questions (2014 10 10).


What are Dogūs (土偶)? How did you discover and started to create them? When? Why?

Dogūs are small ceramic figurines that represent our primordial character or nature. Even though we have evolved since the beginning of time, and are the front edge of our linage, we are still influenced by same forces that drove the first mudskipper onto the land. We may think of ourselves as advanced, and that we exercise rational freedom, yet, we are fundamentally these basic forces that drive life from its inception.

I borrowed the name Dogū from the ancient Japanese fertility figurines that have been found all over rural Japan. Many of the Japanese figurines are highly decorated and probably represent the apex of their understanding, my figurines are rough and simple in comparison. My figurines look backward. Yet this project looks forward into the future.

How many Dogūs did you create? In what places? 

My overall title for this project, which I consider as a single sculpture, is “12,200”. That number represents the amount of individual components that make up the sculpture. A component can consist of an individual Dogūs or a full installation of them. The project is conceptual, there are 12,200 components spread out or abandoned throughout the world. No one can ever see the sculpture in its entirety, but they can conceive it. A viewer can see parts of the entire piece but never the whole sculpture.

The components have a life of their own after they leave me. I don’t usually know what happens to them. The sculpture is constantly moving, changing and evolving. Occasionally I get feedback or photos, but that is actually rare.

The other thing to keep in mind about “12,200” is that all the Dogūs are high fired ceramics. They will last for tens of thousands of years. So this sculpture will continue long after we are all dead; long after anyone will know what they are about; love after human cease to live. Erosionary forces will eventually wear them down.

I’ve actually buried some Dogū installations in the ground. They may or may not be discovered in the future. I can see an archaeologist, three hundred years from now, finding one of my sites and puzzling over it.

The genesis of this project came in Mexico when I was a young man. I was visiting Parque La Venta in Villa Hermosa. This park is a museum of large Olmec sculptures and heads that are thousands of years old. I found myself having a dialog with an unknown artisan who had been dead for thousands of years. We discussed life, concerns, politics and religion. I view my project, “12,200”, in the same matter, I will be having discussions long after I’m dead.

What reactions have you received from people concerning your Dogūs? 

Most people find the figurines engaging and have been happy to adopt them. Many have also gotten into the spirit of abandoning them, in both public and secluded places, for others to find. A lot of people have developed stories to go along with the adventures of their Dogū explorers or colonists. I’m constantly amazed and pleased how these little figurines have sparked interest and creativity of people all over the world.

Are the Dogūs a trend now in USA and/or other countries like garden gnomes? 

The Dogū Invasion has captured the imagination of many people both in the United States and abroad. There are Dogū colonies in 27 states already and ten other countres. I would categorizes the movement more as an emerging trend. The Dogū Invasion is in its infancy but gathering momentum.

Would you call the Dogūs a new Totemism? What is the message or meaning behind your Dogūs? 

The Dogūs represent individual portraits of our ancestral heritage. They are symbols for the primordial forces that that still drive human behavior today. In my larger stone sculptures, I stack multiple images similar to Alaskan totem poles. In many of my paintings, the layering of personalities is clearly utilized to emphasize the ancestral component of human nature. 

What do you know about Lithuania? Do you have friends in Lithuania who contribute to the Dogūs Invasion? Maybe you would like to come to Lithuania?

My knowledge of the history of Lithuania is limited. Having been educated in the United States, my formal understanding of Lithuania centers around World War II and the Cold War. However Facebook has given me access to Lithuanian artists, many of whom have become my friends.

I have one Lithuanian friend, Vita Zabarauskaitė, who lives in Šiauliai, and has a colony of Dogūs. She has shared this colony with her students and friends. I also have a Lithuanian friend Nancy Zeitler who lives nearby me. She has a small Dogūs colony living in her garden.

I absolutely plan to visit Lithuania, but that won’t be until after I retire. I like to bicycle tour, and am I’m looking forward to touring your beautiful country.

Tell us more about your background.

I have a BA degree in philosophy and an MFA from California State University, Los Angeles. In graduate school, I specialized in ceramics and sculpting. However I paint as well.

My studio is located in the Mojave Desert about 50 miles due north of Los Angeles. I have a huge outdoor stone sculpting area, a ceramic’s shop, a painting and drawing studio and a print shop. My wife has a private painting studio on the property also.

I’ve been a high school math teacher for 25 years. My children are grown. My son lives in Kansas and is attending law school. My daughter lives in Santa Barbara and is working on her PhD in math.

When I’m not working or making art, I like to bicycle, hike, write novels, and work in our organic garden.

Warren Scherich. Photo by Cynthia Alise Mock

Some of his Dogūs: