Invisible Energy

Invisible Energy

ST PAUL St Gallery at AUT University

Nobuko Tsuchiya, Ace of hearts vol.7, 2013. Mixed media. Courtesy of the artist.
February 17, 2015
Invisible Energy

20 February–27 March 2015

ST PAUL St Gallery
AUT University
Level 1 WM Building
40 St Paul Street School of Art and Design
Aotearoa/New Zealand 

Artists: Meiro Koizumi, Erika Kobayashi, Hiroharu Mori, Yoshinari Nishio, Nobuko Tsuchiya, Masahiro Wada

Curated by Naoko Horiuchi, Charlotte Huddleston and Vera Mey.

Invisible Energy takes its starting point from Mediarena: contemporary art from Japan shown at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, in 2004. The exhibition looked at the relationship between Japanese contemporary art and its engagement with new media as conceptual and physical terrain.

Retaining an interest in new forms of media, a decade on Invisible Energy‘s focus is on the social resonance of this media, and the effects it has on human interactions in a contemporary context. The recent 3/11 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami adds complexity to the challenge of how to read and interpret contemporary art from Japan. Contemporary Japanese art may be understood through its detailed and elaborate technique, subtle and nuanced aesthetic history dating back centuries, and within a social situation which has underlying tensions, affects and energies resulting from recent events. Exploring how these tensions realise themselves through an aesthetic or an attitude, Invisible Energy suggests a sociological connection between the artists’ environments and their work.

In the video Re: (2009), Hiroharu Mori uses text gleaned from an internet chat forum frequented by Japanese women. It opens with a woman’s post revealing personal details, which culminates in a question about extravagance, and what kind of life you would like to enjoy. From among numerous replies, Mori selected 20 and asked a female actor to perform them. The resultant performances include elements of narrative fiction and anonymous identities. Foregrounding the ambiguity of communication forums that fuse reality, aspiration and desire, the work offers an evaluation of the impact of social media on group psychology.

Meiro Koizumi’s Death Poem for a City (2013) also works with contrasting confessions and desires, with Mori’s Re: as positioned from before 3/11 and Koizumi’s after 3/11. Within this piece we only ever know as much about the subject as the artist does: the confessor’s gender and voice. Deploying a similar methodology to Mori—using the Facebook open call—the two-channel artwork is an overwhelming cacophony of city images alongside contributors’ confessions ranging from the lonely to the sadistic.

Extending the consideration of imperceptible yet very real forces which impact the present and future city, Erika Kobayashi’s installation HALF-LIFE CALENDAR (2014; designed in collaboration with Mina Tabei), draws from her extensive research on the history of radium and radioactivity. The work consists of 1601 countdown-year-calendar-posters, a number which reflects the half-life years of Radium 226.

Nobuko Tsuchiya will present new works, continuing a sculptural practice which embodies a futuristic anthropormorphism through its materiality. Her materials are spawned from the local context, with objects including wood and leather alongside industrial fixtures like metal piping to suggest an otherworldly imagination.

In his work Stylish Flies for House Wives (2012–2013), Masahiro Wada refers to the relationships among family members, using an unrelated combination of key words: “house wives” and “flies.”  Elements such as maggots, flies, and a staged room together with scenes of the artist’s daily communication with his wife and son indicate the frustration and confusion of parenting, artistic careers, and family economics.

Yoshinari Nishio will be in Auckland from 19 February until 6 March to make a new version of his ongoing series Self Select (2007–) on the streets of central Auckland. This project has seen him exchange clothes with unknown passersby in various cities across the world. Through interactions with strangers, Nishio’s work negotiates trust and unfamiliarity through the foreign exchange of clothes and the body.

Invisible Energy is not a definitive thesis on these artists’ practices, but rather links the resonant energy in their work to the energy that one experiences in contemporary society. The aftermath of the 3/11 incidents, and looming sense of nuclear danger, is yet to materialise physically. It remains invisible to the naked eye yet will continue to have resounding effects on all of us.



ST PAUL St Gallery
ST PAUL St is a suite of purpose-built galleries and project spaces run by the School of Art and Design, AUT University, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand. Since its establishment in 2004 ST PAUL St has developed a programme which has seen the Gallery recognised as a leading university gallery and a place for generating critical discussion around contemporary art and design in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

For more information, contact Charlotte Huddleston at [email protected].



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ST PAUL St Gallery at AUT University
February 17, 2015

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