Reiko Shimizu


Blind Spot* (5 Million Incidents**)/ Workshop Exhibition, Max Muller Bhavan, Goethe Institute, Kolkata, India; 2020

"Eye opening experience at 'Blind Spot'"

The “Blind Spot” project has started with the necessity of organizing art classes for the Blind Boys Academy of Narendrapur Ramakrishna Mission*.

An extract of the dialogue between the principal of the Blind Boys Academy, which is also blind, and the author of the project reflects the beginning: 

-We dream with sound.

“What does fine art, which is mostly visual, mean for a blind person who perceives the world with senses other than the sight?”, I thought to myself. Then I asked him:

-How do you remember me, by my voice?


“He must perceive my mood not by the expression on my face, but by the tone of my voice. How do they choose their partner? Not by the appearance, for sure. Miss universe doesn’t mean anything to them. Trendy fashion is meaningless. ColoUr isn’t their priority, but maybe comfort, texture, material, smell… TVs? Smartphones? They are free from those overloading visual propaganda!”

-Close your eyes and imagine how we experience - he interrupted my thoughts. 

I did it, and fear was the first thing that I felt. “Blind person must be courageous to trust the world in order to live, to do any kind of action”, I thought.

The whole project started from the key question - “What does visual art mean for a blind person?”, which gave rise to creating a space for blind boys and others to explore a creative process together. The project is about openly experiencing a creative process together with the visually impaired and the not visually impaired people. The “Blind Spot” aimed to offer an experience involving variety of people for exchanging, understanding, learning, sharing, accepting, expanding and breaking a paradigm. An art space to allow creative answers to questions like: What is ‘beauty’ for a blind person? How is it like to not have a visual sense in this visually overloading world that we live in now? What is the visual sense doing to us as individuals? Or as a society? And how about other senses?

Two workshops on the “Blind Spot” happened on 12th and 14th of March 2020, as special events to open the project. They were opened to all who wanted to come to engage with the students from Blind Boys Academy and jointly create artifacts. The activity took place at a specially designed ‘BLIND SPOT’ in the premises on the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Kolkata as a part of "5 Million Incidents**".

Follow some impressions recorded by participants:

"A Blind Person sees through the sensations and feelings."

“Today I closed my eyes from our world and opened my eyes into a unique world of textures, sensations, sound, music, feelings and imagination that only the blinds are entitled to.”

“It was an amazing experience. Thank you for organising such an enlightening event.”

“It was one of the best days of 2020. Looking forward to be a part of more such events.”

“Teaching blind kids Origami and crafting, and painting blindfolded in a blank canvas is probably going to be one of the happiest moments of 2020, so far.“

Follow some impressions of the workshops from the author Reiko Shimizu:

“It was very impressive to see how some full blind students kept on painting over and over, sweating, eyes closed, and a smile on their faces.  The exercise was to paint the biggest circle, but it became almost like a gestural painting, using their whole body. Their paintings were all very powerful, full of life energy, vibrating! I thought it´s a pity that they will never see their wonderful paintings. But suddenly I realized I was wrong. What was it that they were enjoying so much? It was their gestures. They have registered their paintings in their body through gestures. No need to see outside. It´s in themselves.”

visual art