A large, white sculpture stands on the lawn. At first sight, it seems abstract, but two large black openings at the top turn it into a giant ghost. In the human imagination, ghosts and apparitions take on a vast range of forms. People often imagine them as being invisible, only material from the physical world, such as a sheet thrown over, lending visibility. This cloth simultaneously veils and reveals the form, a phenomenon as interesting in sculpture as it is in fiction. But Ghost not only rises from the ground as a majestic, solitary sculpture; it also places itself in the context of the museum buildings on the other side of the street. Its color and scale relate explicitly to the museum’s minimalist architecture, but where the buildings are grounded and cubical in form, the sculpture is organic, flowing, and seems to float over the lawn.
Unknown Mass, too, relates explicitly to the architecture in whose context it is positioned. From a distance, the sculpture looks like a gleaming mass dripping down from the upper edge of the restroom building. The slow swelling of a drop stands in contradiction to the high-gloss material, evoking a fluidity like that of mercury. Seemingly abstract from the exterior of the building, the sculpture suggests a completely different interpretation to the restroom user, who perceives it as a spook hanging upside down to peer inside. The form’s two openings are immediately read as eyes, lending it a poetic, animistic, and, in such an intimate situation, somewhat startling aspect. Having taken on this new interpretation, Unknown Mass can be understood in relation to Ghost.
Photo: Oyamada Kuniya
Copper, chrome alloy
Against the backdrop of a Western-style garden surrounded by fences, sit a big house and a big car, both looking disproportionately plump. Fat House and Fat Car focus on the association between technical and biological systems. Ordinarily, technology itself does not grow bigger or older like the human body. However, by endowing a house and car with the biological mechanism of growing fat, these pieces of art suggest the possibility of machines and buildings growing the way our body does.
What is the ideal body? It can be argued that our idea of the perfect body is a reflection of social convention. The same goes for symbols of power, wealth, and high status in society. Fat House and Fat Car are intended to make us ponder what determines our ideas of perfection and to imply that common social values that we never question, actually have very vague underpinnings.
Houses and cars are generally indispensable in our lives, and owning them also suggests a certain social status. Many of us would share the same idea of what constitutes a beautiful house or a cool car. Houses and cars reflect our society quite closely. But when they “betray” us by “growing fat,” what becomes of our notion of beauty? Fat House and Fat Car might at first glance look like humorous sculptures, but with them, the artist is seeking to cast doubt on our notions of common sense.
Photo: Oyamada Kuniya
Iron, wood, polystyrene, aluminium,
electric installation, video on DVD,
video projection, speakers
Styrofoam, polyester, car
A Part of the lawn in Art Square is covered in colorful polka-dot patterns. Here one finds a cluster of eight sculptures with polka-dot and net patterns. Together they constitute Love Forever, Singing in Towada, and include several of Kusama Yayoi’s ubiquitous motifs: pumpkin, girl, dog, and mushroom. The outdoor installation created by Kusama on this time occasion is of unprecedented size for the artist. The sculpture of a girl, named Hanako-chan of Towada, looks resolutely straight ahead and appears brimming with energy. She also seems to be singing her heart out in the middle of the spotted field. As such she is the embodiment of Yayoi Kusama herself, who continues to apply her pure, unrestricted spirit to the act of creating.
Another of the sculptures is a giant pumpkin, inside which seven colored beams flicker in the darkness, these rays of light surrounding the viewer, inviting them into an ever-proliferating world.
The colorful creativity of Kusama’s art infuses it with eternal life and crosses all boundaries to make Towada a livelier, more playful, and vibrant place.
Photo: Oyamada Kuniya
Love Forever, Singing in Towada
My Yellow Pumpkin Discovered in Towada
Hanako-chan of Towada
Mushroom of the Sun
Spirit of Mushroom
God of Love
Jaume Plensa is acclaimed worldwide for his artworks and monumental public sculptures, in a diverse practice that includes stage design for operas and theaters.
“…When HaShem created the world, He didn’t create it as a vast expanse of existence all at once. Rather, He created a single point, and from there, He drew out the entire universe… There was a single point of contact between the world above and this world… it’s a rock that sits on top of a small hill… the site where connecting Heaven and Earth…”
(From Seasons of the Moon by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair)
EVEN SHITIA was inspired by this passage. Jaume Plensa’s art is famous for having a unique sense of space created by using multiple materials, including iron, glass, stone, bronze, alabaster, and stainless steel in combination with text carved, cut or welded on. However, the artwork he has produced here is shaped like a round stone. In the middle are inscribed the words “EVEN SHETIA” meaning “foundation stone, rock of the origin of the world” in Hebrew.
It is only at night that EVEN SHITIA reveals its real nature. The center of the rock begins to beam a ray of light straight towards the night sky after sunset, creating a solemn scene suggesting the birth of an unknown world. It also looks as if something is about to materialize out of the hard art piece. Thus nighttime in Towada is wreathed in mystery: imagine it was here that the world began, and this familiar landscape suddenly starts to look a lot less familiar.
Photo: Oyamada Kuniya
Enter this organic, slime-mold-like space, and a voice speaks to you in soothing tones, releasing tension from body and mind, and luring you into an hypnotic state that dissolves the boundaries between self and surroundings. In the past, hypnotism was sometimes employed as a means to depart temporarily from stubborn social realities, and imagine new ways of living. Architects New-Territories/R&Sie(n) engage in speculative activities, traversing myriad fields from bioengineering to robotics to explore the connections between science, the environment, and humans.
Photo: Sasahara Kiyoaki