Beatriz Inglessis, Hideki Nakazawa, Ami Clarke, Nadja Solari, Shibuhouse, Louise Harris, Zevs, Robert Waters, Jack McLean, Yu Araki
2 December 2013 – 17 February 2014
Opening night reception: 2 December, 19:30 – 21:30
|Multi(Multi)(ple(s)) is not an original show. It shamelessly manufactures and retails art, and offers it as an accessible and affordable mean to collect art. It reproduces and multiplies, manufactures and copies, and dares to challenge the purpose of contemporary art..“The individual, man as a man, man as a brain, if you like, interests me more than what he makes, because I’ve noticed that most artists only repeat themselves. ”
The exhibition brings together a selection of local Japanese and international contemporary artists to explore thoughts and ideas about art and retail, and presents a wide range of works – from prints to photographs, and from sculptures and objects to DVDs and books. Some are novelties, and some are “things you can use”, but all are conceptualized, designed, signed, and editioned by professional artists.
Multi(Multi)(ple(s)), more than showing editioned works by artists, also converts The Container into a makeshift shop for the duration of the show, and takes the opportunity to launch an online shop which will remain active also after the exhibition is over. It aims to challenge the borders between contemporary art and the mainstream and to democritize art creation and the collection of artworks while highlighting Japan’s fascination with retail-culture.
During the exhibition, The Container will also feature a vending machine as part of the installation, ubiquitous in Japan, a symbol that is internationally synonymous with Japan’s retail habits. A drinks’ vending machine will showcase bottles with signed surprise artworks by artists, “Message in a Bottle”, which visitors can purchase for the low price of ¥2000. This is to enable all visitors to leave The Container with a real piece of art, poor or wealthy.
The exhibition is fun; we won’t deny it. Many of the artists took the opportunity to create works that are cheeky and humorous, sometimes even surreal, while keeping a strong connection with their current art practice. Nadja Solari’s, a Swiss artist, Home Slice (2013), for example, presents an “especially toasted for you” lacquer-treated piece of toast with a hook, in a limited edition of 10, a true representation of her long-standing fascination with everyday objects and the ephemeral, while Zevs’s Yubitsume Mona Lisa (2013), showcases a lenticular print of the Mona Lisa’s finger encased in a wooden box, in edition of 6. “Yubitsume” (指詰め), finger shortening, is a ritual performed as a way to punish or express an apology by the amputation of a finger, used most commonly by the Yakuza, and recalls of the artist’s elaborate intervention act Visual Kidnapping from 2002. Also humorous are the range of pieces the Scottish Tokyo-based artist Jack McLean created for the show – his range of T-shirts, dishes and objects which explore his performance art persona The Sad Clown, as well as his quirky dark drawings, such as Nobuyoshi Araki Taking A Photograph (2013), a portrait of the photographer snapping a picture on his mobile phone, drawn on a serving plate.
With some of the pieces it is the insight into the artists’ “normal” practice, which makes this show most intriguing. Beatriz Inglessis’s, The Primal Scene DIY: Panoramic Cut and Assemble (2013), for example, continues the artist’s investigation how to interact and educate viewers about anatomical processes / reactions. In a “cut and assemble” poster piece (edition of 15), you can construct for yourself a paper sculpture, portraying an internal cross section of the female and male reproductive systems while engaging in sex, inspired by the Freudian theory The Primal Scene. Robert Waters’s Masculine Objectivity Bag (2013), a tote bag hand screenprinted with a grid using images of men taken from vintage muscle magazines (beefcake), printed on two different colored bags, each in an edition of 25, combines the images to create an intertwined lattice, demonstrating the artist’s interest with the conjunction of subjective individuals to create an objective, or social, pattern.
Threading a line between their ongoing practice and this show are also Ami Clarke and Yu Araki. Clarke, a British artist who is concerned with structures of meaning, and the semiotics of everyday life, showing at the exhibition Coriolis (2009), a vinyl record (6.56 mins both sides), edition of 35, which explores the misconception that water whilst draining, turns in different directions dependent on whether sited in the southern or northern hemisphere. The record, a dubplate recording of water draining in the northern hemisphere, hence anti-clockwise, the turntable, playing the dubplate clockwise, effectively eliminates the recording. Playing the record also actively erases it, with a life-span of approximately 1000 runs. Yu Araki’s, Santa & Myself as Santa (nostalgia edition) (2013), a commemorative photograph (edition of 3) highlighting race, acculturation and falsity. The artist usually inserts himself into various locations of the world in a form of cultural espionage to examine how different cultural, socio-political, and geographical contexts inform his resulting works. For The Container’s multiples show, he carefully re-photographed the non-existent 2006 version from its digital documentation using Polaroid camera. With subtle differences in each print and through lost details of ‘the original’, the work became a quest of finding uniqueness in the era of digital duplication.
While some of the works were manufactured, some were painstakingly made by hand in series. The British Reykjavík-based artist Louise Harris, for example, is showing a series of three different sculptures, each in editions of 10, which were industriously made by hand, Lambagras (Silene acaulis), Mosasteinbrjótur (Saxifraga hypnoides), and Helluhnoðri (Sedum acre), all from 2013. The pieces, sculptures felted with Icelandic and merino wool, investigate a specific verse from the King James Bible, and which encapsulates the artist´s antagonistic response to Catholic ideologies.
More in the show are photographs, electronics files and zines made by the Japanese collective Shibuhouse. The members of the collective submitted individual pieces, notably a large photograph by Yu Ota, a member of the collective, in a life size full body photograph (180 x 105 cm), The Menu of Jintaimori No.1 (2013), depicting the Edo period practice “Nyotaimori” (女体盛り), known in English as “body sushi”, serving food on a female body (edition of 5), among pictures of “selfies” (Toshikuni’s Beautiful, and Kenta Cobayashi’s Hello, me.)
Hideki Nakazawa, one of Japan’s most influential conceptual artists, gathered a selection of promotional materials from his exhibition Brainwaves Drawing from 2006, in a special signed edition of 20, for the show.