October 30, 2010 - Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago - Tokyo Art Meeting Transformation
October 30, 2010

Tokyo Art Meeting Transformation

Shahzia Sikander, “The last post,” 2010.
HD Video, 10 mins.*

Tokyo Art Meeting Transformation
29 October 2010 – 30 January 2011

Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
4-1-1 Miyoshi, Koto-ku
Tokyo 135-0022 Japan
www.mot-art-museum.jp

This exhibition investigates “transformation” from human being into something non-human—be it animal, machine, or imaginary creature. It also poses questions about the nature of humanity in the modern world.

Since the 1990s, with the development of technologies that have vastly broadened our perceptions, like the mapping of the human genome, DNA substitution, organ transplants and cosmetic surgery, our notion of the human body has changed dramatically. Since 9/11 especially, the distinction between justice and injustice—quote, unquote—has become more obscure, and it is no longer established ideologies and ideas that sway politics so much as biological forces responding to life in the raw, information and the global economy. Our self-identities are now generated within the context of both global movements and local cultures, and the tension and instability this generates is forcing us to “transform.”

At the same time, with the weakening of humanity as a Western value, a wide range of alternative values, based on the ideas and ethical outlooks of the non-Western world, are beginning to be promoted in resistance. In The Open: Man and Animal, Giorgio Agamben cites as an example of this Western knowledge the attempt to divide the human from the non-human, and sets out to redefine what is human by understanding how the human being itself is a simultaneously a place of ceaseless partition and division and the result of that. On the other hand, what Agamben seeks to discuss, on the premise of a non-Western perspective of reciprocity between the world of animals and the world of humans, is what the Japanese anthropologist and co-curator of this exhibition Shinichi Nakazawa systematically related in his theory of symmetric anthropology.

Interest in subconscious and unsegmentable realms and transformation towards what is already there – that which Western modernism has generally omitted – is an attempt to expose a here and now in which diverse modernisms can coexist in a complex mix of the global and local, but not as some kind of nostalgia for some pre-modern era that Western intelligence and logic are unable to fathom. In parts of the world where the cultures include belief in reincarnation and human beings and other living things have equal value, there is a completely different negotiation, political science and image of the threshold between human and non-human (life forms).

This exhibition takes that perspective of the non-Western cultures and, paralleling the practices of artists from both East and West, seeks to examine the politics raised by the themes of change. Many of the 21 artists/groups from 15 different countries featured come from places that might be considered remote from the Western mainstream, be they from Asia, South America, Australia or the eastern fringes of Europe, including Russia. Their works demonstrate these differences, not only in their forms and acts, but also in their perspectives (of the world) and their appearance. Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Sarah Sze, Shahzia Sikander, Masakatsu Takagi and Junya Oikawa will present new works based on this theme. In response to an uncertain situation, these works seek to instigate continuous change in the viewer. Behind their creation is a complex fusion of different cultural identities, knowledge, information and technology. By showing diverse forms of transformation, this exhibition presents expanded possibilities of what it means to be human.

In collaboration with Tama Art University’s Institute for Art Anthropology, the exhibition will also present “Trans-Formation-Cycle,” an archive of images showing transformation from all ages and cultures in areas ranging from anthropology to subculture.

This exhibition also marks the first Tokyo Art Meeting, which aims to forge new relationships between art and society through interdisciplinary collaborations with other specialist fields.
—Yuko Hasegawa, Chief Curator

Artists:
AES + F/ Matthew Barney/ Simon Birch/ Francesco Clemente/ Marcus Coates/ Jan Fabre/ Gabríela Friðriksdóttir/ Naoki Ishikawa/ Bharti Kher/ Lee Bul/ Motohiko Odani/ Junya Oikawa/ Jagannath Panda/ Patricia Piccinini/ Shahzia Sikander/ Sputniko!/ Jana Sterbak/ Sarah Sze/ Masakatsu Takagi/ Tunga/ Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Curatorial Staff:
Yuko Hasegawa (Chief Curator at MOT)/ Shinichi Nakazawa, (Anthropologist)

Exhibition Catalogue:
“TRANSFORMATION”
Text by Shinichi Nakazawa/ Yuko Hasegawa /Keiichiro Hirano
Color page :53
TEXT: ENGLISH/JAPANESE
Publisher: ACCESS PUBLISHING

Press Contact:
Kumiko Ohara
k-ohara@mot-art.jp
TEL: +81(0)3-5245-1134(Direct)
FAX: +81(0)3-5245-1141 

*Image above:
Courtesy of the artist.

Tokyo Art Meeting Transformation
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