For his Zero Project, Japanese conceptual artist Katsushige Nakahashi painstakingly creates large scale sculptures, which are then ceremonially burned as an act of questioning the meaning and purpose of war.

Before incinerating them, Nakahashi photographs and documents his works inch by inch. An exhibit of Nakahashi’s Zero Project photos and creations is set to open with a reception at 6 p.m. Saturday, September 10th, at the Sherry Frumkin Gallery, 3026 Airport Ave., Santa Monica. Admission is free. The exhibition remains on display through Saturday, October 15th.

Specifically, Nakahashi assembles full-scale toy models of Zero fighter planes, the principal aircraft flown by kamikaze pilots in World War II and photographs every square inch of their surface. The model planes are constructed by taping together about 20,000 photographs that each cover an approximate two-by-three-millimeter area of the plastic model’s surface.

With the help of local volunteers enlisted in the painstaking process of taping together the tens of thousands of images, life-size models are put together.

A ceremonial burning of a model is being organized locally and is expected to take place at the Santa Monica Airport in 2007, according to the Sherry Frumkin Gallery.

The concepts of the Zero Project works are partially inspired by Nakahashi’s father’s experiences as an airplane mechanic during World War II, and the works are meant to question both Japanese and Western society, culture and attitudes towards war.

His father saw numerous pilots off on their suicide missions, according to Nakahashi.

Nakahashi wondered how his father must have felt, being responsible for the upkeep of the planes that would see the men off to die, Nakahashi has said.

Nakahashi says he considers the ceremonial burning of his sculptures as part of the work of art itself, but furthermore, he says that the work is completed only when it is turned to ashes and the ashes are taken up by the wind.

Among the many symbolic elements of the burning process is the Japanese custom of lighting fires to send off the dead.

Nakahashi began the Zero Project in 2000 and plans to continue the building and burning of model planes at locations in various countries until 2009.

Information, (310) 397-7493.

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