Mariko Mori's REBIRTH Opens at Japan Society Gallery Today
Today, October 11, Japan Society Gallery unveils an ambitious solo exhibition of works produced by the internationally acclaimed artist Mariko Mori over the course of the last decade, including an important light installation never before exhibited in the U.S. and a new video work.
On view through January 12, 2014, Rebirth: Recent Work by Mariko Mori paints a picture of an artist who has chosen to explore different themes, aesthetics, and technology since her last museum show in New York over ten years ago, when she was described by The New York Times as a "jaundiced but intensely engaged Warholian eye on the floating world of consumer culture."
In collaboration with curator Miwako Tezuka, director of Japan Society Gallery, Mariko Mori has designed the upcoming exhibition to invite us to a journey through immersive environments, which reflects prehistoric view on the birth of the life force; the present-day rupture of humankind from nature; and the potential for the reemergence of creative energy. Initially conceived for the space at the Society, Rebirth first opened at the Royal Academy of Art in London last year, and now it travels to Japan Society Gallery in its full configuration as the curator and the artist have originally envisioned. Japan Society is the only North American stop of this transformative exhibition.
"Rebirth reflects Mori's shift away from a preoccupation with Japanese pop culture and consumerism toward the creation of contemplative and participatory spaces, and a vision of art and technology as essential parts of the broader ecology," says Tezuka.
Nearly 35 installations, sculptures, photographs, drawings, and videos are featured, many informed by Mori's extensive explorations of ancient cultures, including the J?mon (14,000-300 BCE) of Japan and the Celts in Europe. "Our life was inherited from our very remote ancestors and given to us now and we will transfer it to future generations.... The chain of life reaching back through history, and our ancestors' reverence for the natural world, remind us how interwoven we are with our environment," says Mori.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Japan Society is collaborating with Christine Vendredi-Auzanneau, Director, Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo, on a special week-long outdoor screening of Mariko Mori's new video work produced for her solo presentation this fall at Espace. The video screening, which will take place during the opening week of Rebirth (October 7-13, 2013) and will be projected onto the façade of Japan Society's East 47th Street headquarters from sundown to 9:00pm, will create a link between her dual roots in Tokyo and New York.
Upon entering Japan Society the visitor will encounter two works suspended above the Japanese pond and bamboo garden in the landmarked lobby: Ring(2012), a beautiful, seemingly iridescent halo; and Birds I (2013), an enigmatic, pearlescent, swirl-shaped sculpture. Ring at the Society gives a good idea of a larger version of Ring that will be installed permanently above a waterfall in Resende, Brazil in the future.
As one of many related programs during the exhibition period, Mariko Mori will perform her ritualistic piece at Japan Society called Oneness that offers a moment of quietude through gentle choreography. Mori turns into a shaman of sorts and guides us into a meditative state of mind and invites us to create a symbolic connection with all attendants.
Rebirth takes the visitor from Japan's remote past into the future, beginning with a prehistoric kaen-doki flame-shaped vase from the middle-J?mon period (3,500-2,500 BCE), on loan from a private collection, and ending its journey in the last room of an installation evoking the birth of a star.
In the first gallery, near this reddish brown clay vase from the prehistoric time hangs a clear acrylic mask cast from an actual clay J?mon mask as if it were a protective spirit arising from the ancient past. In a space behind, nine glowing totemic forms are arranged in a circle on a mound of white pebbles-a kind of high-tech Stonehenge. Entitled Transcircle 1.1 (2004), this installation has been designed with LED lights to synchronize its changing colors with the position of the planets in the course of a year, pastel hues pulsating at different speeds in reflection of the time it takes for different planets to orbit the sun.
Next, a geometric configuration of flat pebbles made of ceramic is installed on the floor. Entitled Flatstone (2006), its configuration echoes the shape of ancient J?mon pit-houses or shrines, with an entrance in the front and hearth in the center. An acrylic cast of a J?mon vase rests in the center, in its material incongruity suggesting a time when cooking itself was a magical ritual act.
Japan Society Gallery is laid out so that one small gallery links larger rooms to the north and south. One of the most spectacular installations in Rebirth will be found in this rectangular gallery, called the Bamboo Room. Miracle (2001) aligns eight Cibachome prints framed in round diachronic glass in a row on a wall. The digital images in the prints are Mori's visualization of ?laya consciousness, the fundamental consciousness of all sentient beings as believed in Buddhism while the frames reflect different spectra of color out into the gallery space.
Exhibition highlights also include a series of intimate and unstudied drawings made with light-toned metallic pastels, selected from daily sketches the artist makes looking out to the ocean, when in Okinawa in south-most Japan; Tama 1 (2011), a pearlescent sculpture that takes the form of an orb resting on a circular base; and black and white photographs documenting several major J?mon stone installations along with photographic documentations of Mori's own stone circle in homage to the J?mon culture on Kudaka Island located southeast of Okinawa in 2004.
Rebirth: Recent Work by Mariko Mori culminates with White Hole (2008-2011). Here the gallery visitor follows a narrow and curving corridor into a dark, cocoon-like space with a low ceiling installed with a circular convex LED light projection. A faint sign of light in the center of this screen gradually grows in size and intensity, spiraling from the center outward. The light's spiral trajectory has been calculated by Mori in collaboration with the astrophysicist Shin Mineshige at Kyoto University based on a hypothesis of an energy generating white hole as an antithesis to a black hole. Mori calls the installation, which evokes the birth of a star as it is released from the gravitational pull of a black hole, as "a conceptual wormhole."
Finally, the visitor may glean the scope of Mori's ambition from a video documenting a truly astounding pillar of light, Sun Pillar (2011), she has stationed on a stone outcropping in Seven Light Bay, Miyako Island, in Okinawa Prefecture. Mori intends to add a second element to this earthwork-in-progress: a giant color-changing "moon stone" that will float in the water near the pillar. This outdoor sculptural project Primal Rhythm is the first of six site-specific art installations that Mori will create in as many pristine ecological settings on all six habitable continents. For this series, begun in 2010, the artist has created Faou Foundation that is currently working in partnership with local residents, scientific researchers and technicians in Okinawa and Brazil.
About Mariko Mori
Mariko Mori is an internationally acclaimed artist, whose work has been acquired by museums
and private collectors worldwide.
In 2011, a major survey of her work, entitled Oneness, became the world's most visited contemporary art exhibition in its venue at the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil in Rio de Janeiro (538,328 visitors), after having been seen at the Groninger Museum, the Netherlands; ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark; and the Pinchuk Arts Center, Kiev, Ukraine.
Mori's solo exhibitions have been organized in institutions around the world, including the Royal Academy of Arts, London; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Prada Foundation, Milan; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Dallas Museum of Art; the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Serpentine Gallery, London; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Mori's work was featured in the Royal Academy's group exhibition Apocalypse: Beauty and Horror in Contemporary Art in 2000.
Mori has received numerous international awards, including the prestigious Menzioni d'Onore (Honorary Mentions) at the 47th Venice Biennale in 1997 (for the work Nirvana) and the 8th Annual Award as a Promising Artist and Scholar in the Field of Contemporary Japanese Art in 2001 from the Japan Cultural Arts Foundation. Mariko Mori currently lives and works in New York, London, and Tokyo.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a 144 page fully illustrated catalogue published by Japan Society and distributed by Yale University Press. Brett Littman, Executive Director, The Drawing Center, New York, will shed new light on Mariko Mori's drawings. Iida Takayo, Chief Curator, Aomori Museum of Art, Japan, with his deep knowledge of Mori's entire career thus far, will provide detailed scholarly analysis of the creative development of the artist. Iida was instrumental in the realization of Mori's Dream Temple (1997-99) which marked the turning point in her career, merging art and technology in large scale installations. He most recently participated in a conversation program with Mariko Mori at Espace Louis Vuitton in Tokyo, focusing on the topic of harmonious coexistence of man and nature, and how her art practice relates to that vision. Also included in the catalogue is an introductory text on J?mon pottery by Simon Kaner, Assistant Director of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Culture, UK.