Sketchbook notes from the drifting spaces

Tokyo Art Exhibitions – MOT and David Lynch at LAFORET


During my show in Omotesando I was delighted to see David Lynch had an exhibtion on at the Laforet Department Store’s Gallery, just down the road at the Harajuku crossing. I popped in a few days later. The building’s quirky angled and funky interior design and disco colours were really 80’s and the general mood building up as I went up the mirrored stairs created somehow the right feel for the show I think…

Enter into a dark corridor with a series of black and white photographs of tattered empty factory walls, bits of decayed telephone wires and pipes, feeling like they may be alive (a bit reminiscent of Eraserhead). Taken in Poland, perhaps around the time of making the his excellent 2006 film Inland Empire. The show continued with a nice balance of drawings, more photographs (liked the funny snowman series), short films and mixed media figure/head and oil paintings in the final space (such as the sparse cardboard background/collage/LED/painting with objects piece I HAVE A RADIO). BOB’S SECOND DREAM was also a particularly worrying image.. These were set apart by the fast, somewhat likably silly but gripping, Crazy Clown Time music video, and the intensely strange Rabbits episodes. “In a nameless city, deluged by continuous rain, three rabbits live with a fearful mystery.” I thought the larger framed ochre and charcoal watercolour drawings series including ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS MY TWO FRONT TEETH and the supremely post modern MIGHTY MOUSE AND SPACESHIP in the middle darkened corridor were really strong works.

The selection of short films also included 16mm Experiment from 1968 filming painting/ drawing aspects as well as the young director himself – you can see the returning connection between this early work and the later heavy impasto dense painterly images, but much darker later, and yet more playful too. Having previously watched The Neighbour Boy (“What’s this that bees a bees?”), it was fun to see more of the comical and absorbing Out Yonder series Teeth and also Chicken. “TWO CWANTUM FIZASISTS BEES BEIN’S STRUGGLIN’.”


It was great to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo again after a couple of years. Designed by Yanagisawa Takahiko and opened in 1995, it is a superbly modern, spacious and humble building that has a captivating series of light filled spaces that take the visitor on a journey. Apparently it is the second largest art museum in Japan which you wouldn’t realise as you can’t see or sense all the multiple parts of the building at once. Even if the artwork isn’t great you’re certainly not disappointed to have visited. Moto, as they pronounce in Tokyo, always seems to have at least one good show on anyway. The general collection is changed regularly too – this time a video installation by the Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist stood out. Taking my shoes off, I stepped into the dark padded room with circular mirror in the centre of the floor with a projection on it from the ceiling. The combination of distorted nature images and female figure coming in, with music, were mesmerising.

The ambitious exhibition ‘Art and Music – Search for New Synesthesia’ was well worth the visit too, a fascinating themed show with many strong works and a great intro to international artists working with sound. It made the effort to cover a wealth of musically inspired art from Kandinsky through a room with various John Cage works and the ‘silent’ piano works ‘Two Times 4’33″‘ performed by Manon de Boer. The fragmented high pitched electronic sound installation in a room with three hanging speakers, by Florian Hecker ‘3 Channel Chronics (17’24”)’ is something I’d really like to put on my ipod. A bit R2D2! The previous room had video work by a young artist Bartholomaus Traubeck – it was literally the translated piano sound of a sliced tree, the turntable picking up the circular grooves of the sliced wood years. The result was random but moving.

There were also a few larger standout pieces which I thought worked well. Celeste Boursier-Mougenot’s ceramic bowls in a large shallow blue pool made impact at the start of the show, with the surprisingly loud acoustics as the bowls perpetually banged into one another, driven on again slowly by a hidden water pump. I particularly liked the digital text and laser activated piano sound installation ‘Collapsed’ by Ruichi Sakamoto and Shiro Takatani. The atmosphere in the huge dark room was intriguing and heavy, with Plato’s morally thought provoking classical words transcribed into moving red laser text activating computers to remotely move the piano keys themselves to generate the sound. The final room ‘data.matrix (no.1-10)’ by Ryoji Ikeda contained another excellent piece, a multi screen (very very Matrix like indeed) installation of quickly changing shapes and numbers perfectly tied to the sound, and wrapping up this memorable show very nicely.

Celeste Boursier-Mougenot
http://www.fly16x9.com/art/index.php?id=112

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