Sunday, December 9, 2007

Making a Home: Japanese Contemporary Artists in New York

Making a Home: Japanese Contemporary Artists in New York

Making a Home, a fascinating, multi-sensory survey of Japanese artists living in New York City, is an invigorating and often whimsically fun exploration of the play between these two distinctive cultures. Loosely organized by curator Eric C. Shiner into six thematic currents, the show displays an incredible diversity while investigating issues such as consumerism, intimacy, mourning, and the artistic process itself. While weaker individual pieces sometimes fall behind the venturesome pace and ill-begotten curatorial choices interfere with some of the strongest work, the overall impression is one of sprightly intellectual curiosity and effervescent cultural mingling.

Immediately upon entering the Japan Society, the viewer is confronted with My Mommy is Beautiful, a wall-sized piece by Yoko Ono that invites the audience to record memories of their loved ones upon a neutral white background. While any exhibition claiming to be a comprehensive presentation of New York-based Japanese artists must include Ono, I found her piece to be trite and cloyingly sentimental. I took part in Ono’s memory-celebration, and it felt nice to do so, but it left no lasting impression and said nothing profound about the role of remembrance as a ubiquitous artistic practice. That concept could be fascinating if it was given a more thoughtful treatment, but it remains syrupy and undeveloped in its current incarnation.





The most striking work of the show is also the easiest to miss due to some perplexing curatorial choices. Silent Staircase, by Yasunao Tone, uses modern ultra-directional speakers to create a contained, surreal soundscape within the bustling lobby of the Japan Society. As you walk under Tone’s creation, the speakers negate the surrounding babble of the lobby’s waterfall, creating an invisible cone of insulating, otherworldly noise that doesn’t so much engulf the viewer as transport them. As part of the Building an Environment portion of the exhibition, Tone’s technological alchemy uses sound to ‘build’ an environment while simultaneously mystifying its conventional attributes. The piece is the most conceptually innovative and playful treatment of the theme in the exhibition, though it is hard to spot due to insufficient labeling and an unexplainable separation from the rest of the show.


The conceptual landscapes of Tōru Hayashi, also inexplicably secreted away from the body of the exhibition, nonetheless remain the most striking work of the Referencing the Landscape exhibition theme. Hayashi’s Equivocal Landscape consists of hundreds of tiny, simplified drawings of trees that float amid the white void of his sketchbook pages. They have an undeniably endearing quality, adorably captivating while avoiding the saccharine sweetness of Ono’s work. But in their resemblance to hieroglyphics and their serialized presentation, the drawings also suggest a runic language of mystical universality. They capture the essential meaning of the trees, interpreting the subject through its most fundamental characteristics.


Hayashi expands this investigation of his surroundings in the Metropolis Mandala Series, which he completes after exploring a city for days. He searches for illusive changes in the metropolitan landscape, seeking indications of a city’s intrinsic character and how it subtly shifts over time. Hayashi’s mandalas are prismatic, vaguely spiritual records of these impressions. The artist explains, “The term mandala can be translated as ‘integration of truth.’ I reinterpreted it to demonstrate the ‘intergration of time.’”

Reminiscent of the painterly musings of Paul Klee, the pieces produce a cosmology of fleeting sensation and perceptual mystery. Hayashi has created mandalas of New York, Paris, Tokyo, and Delhi, finding metaphysical calm within the globalist trends of transience and migration. The subtle expressionism and precious scale of his work are refreshingly unique in a show replete with grandiose, room-sized installations.

Of the larger installations, Hiroshi Sunairi’s White Elephant stands out for its ghostly starkness and elegiac immediacy. Part of the Coping with Loss exhibition theme, the piece presents a life-sized porcelain reproduction of an adolescent elephant, shattered into withered pieces and strewn about a black vacuum. Viewers are drawn to walk amongst the artist’s charnel house and contemplate the sepulchral stillness of the fragmented goliath. Sunairi’s mournful response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the piece explores the capriciousness of life and death with the staid elegance of a Dutch still life.

Yumi Kōri’s installation Shinkai uses sound and light to create a transcendental experience of space and time. Shinkai, which means “deep sea,” morphs the gallery space into an ethereal realm filled with crystalline bubbles and undulating red lights. Ambient sounds submerse the viewer and reinforce the deep ocean effect. As part of the Meditative Space exhibition theme, Kōri’s installation makes clever use of mirrors to stretch the visual stratum into the infinite, presenting a calming but altogether alien sanctum. Confounding the viewer’s relationship to his environment, the piece creates a nebulous, amniotic otherworld that invites meditative disengagement from everyday reality.



The exhibition’s overriding theme of making a home results in a myriad of imaginative treatments of space, ranging from the metaphysical landscapes of Tōru Hayashi to Hiroshi Sunairi’s mournful Golgotha. Although similar currents are difficult to conjure, many of these artists make ingenious use of technology and Eastern religious practices to strategize an increasingly global world. The exhibition, though sometimes hindered by perplexing curatorial decisions, offers a fantastic survey of these trans-cultural visual strategies and the Japanese New Yorkers who adopt them.

Making a Home: Japanese Contemporary Artists in New York
Japan Society
Through January 13, 2008

37 comments:

真心 said...

Everything comes if a man will only wait........................................

said...

快樂是你與生俱來的權力,它不應該取決於你完成什麼。 ........................................

紅包 said...

如果你不思考未來,你便不會有未來 ..................................................

知道 said...

真正的愛心,是照顧好自己的這顆心。........................................

美麗 said...

All good things come to an end. ....................................................

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The shortest answer is doing.......................................................

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ShilaL_Kappler said...

友誼能增進快樂,減少痛苦 ............................................................

mckinney said...

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vickiekurt said...

我們不是因為快樂而歌唱,而是唱歌使我們快樂..................................................

玫友 said...

很棒的分享~留言支持!.................................................................

陳芳 said...

河水永遠是相同的,可是每一剎那又都是新的。.................................................................                           

誠侑誠侑 said...

君子立恆志,小人恆立志。.................................................................                           

義珊義珊 said...

成熟,就是有能力適應生活中的模糊。.................................................................

吳婷婷 said...

It takes all kinds to make a world.............................................................

文郭ss華賴ss添卉顏俊s任 said...

今天心情很好..你心情好嗎?..................................................................

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偉倫s倪陳合恭陳陳sgdgd陳 said...

everyday real you~!............................................................

dawsonfelicia張君dawsonfelicia均 said...

來向你問安喲!!!..................................................................

岑瑜原岑瑜原 said...

雖然不能常常來看,仍然祝你人氣百分百 ............................................................

珮瑜 said...

我在戀愛著?--------是的,因為我在等待著.................................................................

珮瑜 said...

If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it...................................................

童祖如童祖如 said...

Learn wisdom by the follies of others.............................................................

家唐銘 said...

很用心的部落格 路過留言支持 ................................................

韋雅萍志 said...

在莫非定律中有項笨蛋定律:「一個組織中的笨蛋,恆大於等於三分之二。」. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

沈許玉佳貞儀 said...

一個人的際遇在第一次總是最深刻的,有時候甚至會讓人的心變成永遠的絕緣。............................................................

晨晨 said...

所有的資產,在不被諒解時,都成了負債..................................................................

皇紫勳紫勳豪 said...

不論做什麼事,相信自己,別讓別人的一句話,把你擊倒。..................................................

淑梁梁梁娟 said...

笑口常開~~天天開心............................................................

玉韓韓韓婷韓韓韓韓 said...

好看耶~一定每天有空給你支持..................................................

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值得一看再看的格子,請加油 ..................................................................