Exhibition “Omnilogue : Journey to the West”: Artists and the Works

Artists and the Works

In response to these inquiries, six Japanese artists are invited to explore inter-subjective cultural engagement and negotiation, both historical and current-day, to create and present new works for the exhibition.

Satoshi Hashimoto (b. 1977)

Photo of Satoshi Hashimoto's performance titled Re
Re (reference work)
performer, visitors, books, wood, two chains,
cups, tea bags, water, kettle, stove, etc.
March 30 - April 2, 2005 (4 days, 6 hours a day)
Courtesy: the artist

Hashimoto attempts to invert the unilateral nature of cultural exchanges, fixed ideas of social categories and unequal economic relationships by acquiring a "circuit", which would enable him to communicate with India, not from the outside but from "within" its context. In order to realise this intention, Hashimoto invited people in India to contribute original concepts in a publicly-issued announcement. He then selected one of the entries, paid the contributor a pre-declared sum of money for the idea and proceeded to interpret the concept in his own way.

Hashimoto draws a parallel with organ transplants, where the "organ" being transplanted is the purchased concept, into the "body" of the artist. Through this process, Hashimoto inter-subjectively explores the ways in which he could negotiate and mediate conflicts between this "alien" concept, and his own identity and predilections as an artist.

Meiro Koizumi (b. 1976)

Photo of artwork titled Portrait of a Young Samurai by Meiro Koizumi
Portrait of a Young Samurai (reference work)
9' 45" 2009
Courtesy of the artist

Koizumi has been working mainly with video and performance, to produce works which are compelling and visceral explorations of aspects of human psychology. Often in dialogue with actors or through his own performances, he creates precarious situations that are psychologically unstable and often as manipulative of actors as they are of the viewer. His most recent series of work are thematically focused on Japanese World War II history.

In the new video work made for this exhibition, Koizumi takes popular representations of omnipotent gods (like Senju-kannon) and goddesses (like Durga), depicted with multiple arms, as his point of departure. Reacting to aphorisms of peace and happiness, the arms of three performers make seemingly random actions that actually correspond or collide with each other, as if they were following a system of values or meaning that is incomprehensible to the viewer.

Yuken Teruya (b. 1973)

Installation image of Scarlet Birds, Crimson by Yuken Teruya
Scarlet Birds, Crimson Sky (reference work)
Recycled paper boxes, Linen fabric, Colour Pigment
Collection of the artist
Photograph: Gene Ogami
Courtesy of the artist

Teruya has an aesthetic based on vernacular sensibilities which he weaves into his works in a poetic yet critical manner. As an artist originally from Okinawa, and currently based in New York, Teruya considers cultural traffic between east and west in an international context, while focusing on a specific current that runs through "Okinawa-Japan-Delhi-India".

Responding to the social, cultural and geo-political conditions in Delhi and parts of northern India, Teruya collaborates with local wood-block printing artists to make a new work, which reflects upon his research of indigenous art forms and patterns specific to Jaipur. By recomposing inherited pattern arrangements or deliberately staging a conflict between ancestral motifs/compositions and contemporary images, Teruya explores extended collaborative possibilities that straddle the traditional and contemporary.

While the two participating artists, Hiroharu Mori and Aki Sasamoto, both deal with the issues of mortality, their works complement each other.

Hiroharu Mori (b. 1969)

Photo titled From Workshop for Death taken by Hiroharu Mori
From Workshop for Death
Digital C print
Courtesy of the artist

Hiroharu Mori works with a wide range of media including text, photography, installation performance and video. His visual practice draws strongly on language through stories, scripts, songs and idioms sourced offline as well as online (through the internet, text messages, etc.). Questions play an important role in Mori's works: the seeming simplicity of an interesting question invites audiences to enter the work and explore the artistic process.

Workshop for Death is a video installation comprising documentation of a workshop conducted collaboratively by the artist and a group of theatre students. Mori has realised this work in an Indian context, through a workshop that attempts to engage with the idea of death, more specifically one's own death. Participants were asked to imagine and act out the moment of their death as a short theatrical play. Not only does the process of deliberating on your life to propose a rational projection of your own death, challenge the human imagination, that is habitually, biologically predisposed to resist and avoid death, it also reveals a latent, often unacknowledged desire for life.

Aki Sasamoto (b. 1980)

Photo of Aki Sasamoto's performance titled Strange Attractors
Strange Attractors (reference work)
Performance and mixed-media Installation
Dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist and Take Ninagawa

Sasamoto's work concerns itself with finding a cartographical process to understand how we can imagine a post-life reality and a sense of "the other self", or the self as the Other. Her research in Delhi involved interacting with people from various walks of life, including the manager of an electric crematorium, a surgeon, an ayurvedic physician, artists, funeral priests and astrologers. Their exchanges addressed the various private and public ways in which death is experienced and enacted, whether as ritual, spectacle, memory, superstition or anatomy. Aki Sasamoto devises a performance installation based on the cumulated material drawn from these conversations, as well religious and private narratives.

The idea of "Tenjiku", written in the Chinese novel Journey to the West, intersects the conceptual strains of these two artists with our desire to understand "who we are" at an existential and ontological level.

Aki Yahata

still photograph from video installation titled Bakery YAMANNBA-PAN by Aki Yahata
Bakery "YAMANNBA-PAN" (reference work)
video installation
image courtesy of the artist

The concerns related to an otherworldly reality explored by Aki Sasamoto poses a counterpoint to a new video work by Yahata who seeks to ground her explorations in our very worldly, everyday life. Yahata recreates and imbues mundane reality with 'magic' and 'wonder' as a way of finding a redemptive dimension to a reality that is often harsh and unrelenting.

For this show, Yahata produces a video work which explores an exchange between a Japanese actor with a hearing disorder and an Indian actor who is visually impaired. Based on the imaginary narrative of their journeys and encounters, the artist tries to show the communication born between the two protagonists, as well as the way in which each grasps reality through their physical senses. This is also her attempt to ask the fundamental question, whether universal communication, one which overcomes cultural differences, is possible.

[Contact Us]

The Japan Foundation
Arts and Culture Dept. Visual Arts Section
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