As a film about fertility, Water Children is an ode to womanhood and the body
Filmmaker Aliona van der Horst followed the trail of the unconventional Dutch-Japanese pianist and artist Tomoko Mukaiyama who made a huge work of art on the theme of womanhood and fertility. She created a cathedral-like space out of twelve thousand white silk dresses in which visitors, as in a ritual, roamed around and fell silent. And where people confessed intimate details about children who were or were not born, about sexuality and life-choices. This resulted in a majestic epic about motherhood, miscarriages and menopause. In a visual and poetic way, the film penetrates into what is probably still one of the greatest of taboos, menstruation, and, as a consequence, touches upon universal themes around life and death.
Some aspects of life are hard to express in words.To touch the deep layers of feelings connected to issues of motherhood and loss and experiences of procreation and the sense of failure it can entail, you need to create something like music, a labyrinth or a ritual. Something that isn’t only about speaking meaning, but explores other ways to express the deep and intense experiences in our lives. In this documentary, artist and pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama asks a group of Japanese women to participate in her art project exploring and meditating on the meaning of their monthly blood and the rhythm of their bodies. The women, sometimes for the first time in their lives, try to give words to their experiences, resulting in powerful testimonies about the connection between life and death, mortality and the power of life. Gradually, and unexpectedly, this film evolves into a collaboration between the artist and me. Why did I chose to make a film about such a sensitive and hard to grasp subject as “female fertility”? I am challenged by the Tomoko who asks me to participate in her project; confronting my own strong and mixed feelings towards being a woman without children of my own. Our conversation takes place in music and images. This film is about how deeply art can be connected to life and how necessary it it is to express what we often cannot speak about.