Edificio — Buenos Aires

The piece allows visitors to view themselves in a gravity-defying illusion using a large mirror as they scale the face of the building. Though simple in concept, the effect of seeing yourself in such an impossible scene is sure to bewilder and delight those who see it for the first time. While the installation invites visitors to physically interact with the mirror, it also creates a unique experience for every individual from every angle, both for those who choose to pose as well as those who observe from the sidelines.

Photo: Oyamada Kuniya

Nawa Kohei has been developing a new type of sculpture based on his unique way of perceiving the world through cells, using various materials such as glass and liquid as well as technology like 3D scanning.

Nawa’s signature PixCell series comprises sculptures in which transparent spheres cover the surface of stuffed animals, musical instruments, and other objects collected on internet. The term “PixCell” is a blend of the words “pixel” and “cell.”

The objects that we see on the Internet are perceived through the pixels of the screens in our computers and mobile devices and are united by a singular flat texture. Nawa’s cell-covered works are magnified and distorted by the lens-like effect of their surfaces. The cells create a kind of moving image effect as the viewer moves throughout the space and changes their vantage point. The objects themselves can then only be seen through the cells and can no longer be the subject of physical reality through visual and tactile perception.

Nawa’s work mirrors, through sculpture, our contemporary global information society, where emphasis on efficiency and convenience has led to the elimination of physical sensation. It also echoes, in a peculiar way, the current state of the world and the COVID-19 pandemic as, now more than ever, we engage with the world through virtual connectivity.

Photo: Oyamada Kuniya

Shiota Chiharu confronts fundamental human concerns such as life, death, and relationships, asking: What does it mean to be alive? What are we searching for, and where are we headed? Shiota’s works include her signature large-scale ‘thread’ installations, which weave together the existence of uncertain and unseen memories that reside in objects and spaces, in addition to other mediums that include sculpture, photography, and video.

For her latest work, Shiota found her inspiration in Lake Towada. Lake Towada is said to have been formed from volcanic activity some 220,000 years ago while the city of Towada was founded after reclaiming land by digging irrigation channels that brought water from the lake. The red thread that envelopes the exhibition space is anchored to a boat floating in a space where time and memory continue to flow. The long, narrow wooden boat was found on the banks of Lake Towada. Shiota says that boats can lead us to places unknown, that they can also lead us from this world to the next. In this boat, signs of life and death coexist with one another, a major theme that runs through Shiota’s work.
The red thread that Shiota uses is a symbol of life. It also represents the thread that binds us to one another. The thread is woven in layers, making it impossible to see just one single strand. Like water or mist, the red threads of Memory of Water represent the elusive things that slip right through our fingers.

Photo: Oyamada Kuniya

 Among the many large-scale artworks on display at Towada Art Center, Yamagiwa Mitsuhiro’s work is something one only discovers from wandering around, in and outside the art center. His pieces, each small and humorous, are scattered throughout in various intervening spaces.
 Fragments here and there seem to add up to a common narrative of sorts−a marmot frozen in some Alpine habitat, an icy exhibition room that shines at night−but don’t; instead, they keep us questioning our acts of looking, our curiosity. Ever attentive to people’s movements and sightlines, Yamagiwa has installed a balloon-like object in the ceiling of the elevator (which moves horizontally rather than vertically), to look as if it has floated up and been forgotten. A road he built by a concrete gutter ends before the corridor, creating a deformation of scale and alignment.
 Yamagiwa has created an installation scattered throughout the museum, in a variety of media, from painting to objects to found materials. Visitors are thus free to connect these fragments and enjoy weaving them into stories of their own imaginings.

Top Image: there, here and over there: I cannot be you
Photo: Oyamada Kuniya

 Mariele Neudecker is known for installations featuring majestic nature and landscape motifs, reminiscent of the allegorical paintings of the German Romantics typified by Caspar David Friedrich. Her widely discussed contribution to Yokohama Triennale 2001 was a gigantic mountain range diorama floating in a water tank filled with an opaque white liquid.
 For Towada, she has created a fantastic scene of light filtering through the trees in a forest. The diorama is ten meters deep, six wide and five high, produced by taking life casts of pine trunks in a woodland. The sense of verisimilitude is such that the visitor feels actually lost in the woods, awed just as they might be when faced with a natural spectacle. The title, This Thing Called Darkness, is a phrase taken from Shakespeare. The artist’s obsessive attention to detail, seen for example in her recreation of the moss-covered ground, adds to the piece’s dramaturgy−this mysterious moment neither noon nor night nor morning, but rather timelessness−psychologically inviting viewers deeper into the forest, in a work resonating clearly with the museum’s grounding concept of the importance of nature as a theme.

Photo: Oyamada Kuniya
Courtesy the artist and Galerie Barbara Thumm with the kind support of the Forestry Commission, Bedgebury Pinetum, England

 Visiting Hans Op de Beeck’s pavilion even during the daytime, one enters a dark nighttime scene: a lifesized mise en scène of a black, elevated roadside restaurant with a panoramic view. From a seat at one of the small tables, visible through the picture windows is a nocturnal highway landscape that stretches off into the distance, lit only by distinctive orange streetlights. This “trompe l’oeil” landscape is, in reality, a sculptured landscape eleven meters deep and ten wide. The road’s surface rises at a nine-degree angle and the perspective is foreshortened as it moves toward the horizon (the first light around four meters high, the last only forty centimeters), thereby creating the illusion of a view that runs on for kilometers.
 Within the roadside restaurant itself, a crackling radio quietly plays strange tunes from the Seventies. Everything, down to the smallest detail, has been custom made in black, lending the interior a mysterious, almost ominous aura; the room, lit only faintly by hanging lamps, gives one the feeling of entering the restaurant after closing time. The restaurant is every bit as desolately empty as the massive highway landscape visible through the large, angled windows.

Photo: Hans Op de Beeck
Courtesy of Xavier Hufkens, Brussels

 As a centerpiece of his solo exhibition “The Little Little House in the Blue Woods” (September 22, 2012 – January 14, 2013) held at Towada Art Center, Nara executed this work on a wall surface he likened to a ten-meter-high canvas. While the Japanese title can be read as “yoroshiku,” a common greeting in Japan, it is written here with four Chinese characters that mean “night (Yo),” “exposed (Ro),” “death (Shi),” and “suffering (Ku),” in a play on words from the lexicon of socially rebellious youth. The girl’s clothing is ripped in places as if she has worn it out or been in a fight, or perhaps added the holes on purpose to look cool. Striking a pose, legs crossed, she is gazing at something slightly off to the side. A smile is detectable on her lips, but she also seems to be holding back anger or holding in sadness. The girl’s expression is depicted in simple lines, but changes in complexity according to the mood of the viewer.
 Nara draws young girls and animals whose expressions contain a purity and strength that seem to defy society’s power to tame them. The stare emanating from the girl’s particularly large eyes appears to see through to society’s essence. Processing the work begins with absorbing the strength of her stare and trying to discern what her cuteness conceals. The viewer can project onto her their own inner feelings, or recognize something in her appearance familiar from family or close friends: the reason Nara’s work continues to charm people around the world.

Photo: Oyamada Kuniya

 One of Japan’s most beautiful and historical boulevards, Kanchogai Avenue, commonly called Koma Kaido, or Horse Highway, was until the end of World War Two the site of a warhorse supply center for the Imperial Ministry of War. Clad in flowers and exhibited in the exterior “event space” adjoining this boulevard, Choi’s monumental horse aligns with the long historical relationship between Towada and the horse, the seasonal changes in flowers blossoming along this street, and the future prosperity of the city. Its imposing 5.5-meter height and vivid coloring create a bold contrast against the white, minimalist architecture of the museum.
 With an international career in fields as various as art direction and interior design, Choi creates dynamic and extraordinary pieces inspired by daily life. Choi’s work uses motifs intrinsic to Korean culture, and images commonly found around the city, humorously highlighting aspects of life that would usually pass unnoticed.

Photo: Oyamada Kuniya

 Yamamoto Shuji’s piece, in the small patio between galleries, takes the pine trees lining the street of Kanchogai Avenue as its theme. With rocks and branches curving to form a gate, it is as though nature has conspired to bring together the plants and rocks and mounds of earth and then breathe special life into this miniature landscape.
 Gardening, which Yamamoto has been engaged in since university, is always a big influence in his work. The pines he has created are each strange in form, yet based on techniques learned from Japanese traditional landscaping methods of altering natural objects to create new compositional elements. Or rather we should say that they represent such elements but are themselves FRP (fiber reinforced plastic) with pine needles rendered as symbols. Maintaining traditional rules, while perversely mixing the natural and artificial, somehow resulting in anthropomorphic forms: these bizarre choices make Yamamoto’s works both more obscure and more attractive.

Photo: Oyamada Kuniya

 Kuribayashi Takashi has created here two different worlds in one gallery. What he presents in this work, entitled Sumpf Land, or “marshland” in German, is the interface between two worlds. Kuribayashi’s work has long dealt with this “boundary” theme by integrating different spaces−on two sides of a wall, or floor and ceiling−into his installations. Boundaries, of course, include more than the obvious national borders; they also originate in our minds, in the implicit preconceptions that shackle our thinking. The larger intention of his work is to provoke different perspectives on things, to suggest new ways of looking at things.
 Kuribayashi is an avid diver and marine sportsman, and these experiences of communing with nature provide an important background for his work, in that he often uses water, and living, changing materials found in nature. Here Kuribayashi is attempting something new to the museum experience, namely, a space that is literally alive and will grow. The result is, in his words, “a work that keeps changing, and growing; defying common wisdom,” “a work that will offer different aspects for each season, and gives viewers different experiences and inspirations.” In the attic into which a seal peeks, unfolds a world full of surprise that can only be experienced here.

Photo : Iwasaki Mami

 Do Ho Suh’s enormous work is displayed in the Center’s largest exhibition space, with its soaring nine-meter ceiling. This beautiful transparent red, orange, and colorless gradation is composed of tens of thousands of piggy-backing resin figurines suspended from the ceiling in a radial array. Sparkling like a chandelier under the lighting, the work evokes a sense of the splendor of life, while at the same time expressing the metempsychosic idea that life and death are merely two sides of the same coin, endlessly cycling back and forth in an eternal and unbroken line. With the work filling the all-glass wall facing the street, this gallery symbolizes Towada Art Center’s commitment to making art open to the city.
 Active internationally, Suh is known for his dynamic style, often repeating incomprehensible volumes of similar elements−in works that include vast numbers of small figures holding up a glass floor, or a stainless steel statue pulling countless red threads−and using diaphanous fabric to reconstruct to scale buildings and architectural interiors in which he has lived.

Photo: Oyamada Kuniya
Courtesy the Artist and Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York and Hong Kong

 Oscillating between the fields of art and architecture, Tomás Saraceno’s ongoing project, “Air-Port-City,” is a visionary place. These networks of habitable structures are based on the possibility of floating in the air like cloud−light and dynamic, in constant transformation.
 Saraceno has a vision of social reorganization that transcends the common boundaries of nationality, rationality, and property. It is a vision that reveals how unstable our world and the categories we use to describe it really are.
 The exhibited work, on clouds, is a floating space made up of air pillows joined in a network of webbing, its inhabitable structure inviting the spectator to explore it from different perspectives.

Photo : Oyamada Kuniya

 Past the entrance into the first exhibition space, the first work visitors encounter at Towada Art Center is Ron Mueck’s enormous, striking four-meter statue of a woman. The effect is almost overwhelming, and the woman’s melancholic appearance is so realistic that it makes the gap between us and her gargantuan scale all the more unsettling. Her sightline is beyond our reach, as she gazes out the window, looking askance as though following some passerby. But in the constantly-shifting natural light, and in our movements around her, she presents many different aspects, inspiring us to imagine her life, as well as our own lives and deaths. Mueck’s woman is not just a sculpture as an object, but rather a presence for evoking backgrounds and stories.
 Having gained global acclaim with his gigantic sculpture Boy, Mueck is known for his scrupulous recreations of delicate features of the human body− skin, wrinkles, bulging veins, individual strands of hair−but always with audacious changes in scale. His subjects have remained largely fictional since his early works.

Photo: Oyamada Kuniya
Courtesy Anthony d’Offay, London

 Michael Lin is known for expanding ornamentation, nurtured by tradition within daily life, into unorthodox environments. For Towada Art Center he developed this work in a rest area with a nine-meter ceiling. Rather than hanging on the wall, however, it unfolds under our feet. Lin works around the world and is perhaps best known for his wall and floor paintings featuring traditional flower patterns appropriated from everyday textiles. Here, he presents a collage of floral patterns inspired by Nambu weaving, a traditional Towada craft. By cleverly creating a slight gap between the wall and the edges of the piece, Lin’s work creates an awareness of the architecture as a contextual frame. The piece appears to be a carpet.
 Lin’s work is often described in terms of creating intimate spaces where visitors can relax. For Lin art thus exists in our daily lives, within familiar environments rather than as rarefied objects to be displayed. Awaiting completion by the audience, Lin’s work is conceived as relational. His projects are often installed in public spaces such as tennis courts, skateboard ramps, and museum cafes, where the work is contextualized in the social interactions that occur in these spaces.

Photo: Oyamada Kuniya

 The Towada Art Center galleries are dotted around like houses in a village, and in the exterior spaces between the buildings too, we find artworks exhibited, in unexpected forms.
 Morikita Shin has installed a pair of sculptures consisting of two human figures, within a slit-like triangular space evocative of some kind of urban canyon. One figure has arms and legs thrust out, pressed between the buildings, as though comically flying in the sky. The other, in a humorous pose, watches from a bridge above, as if trying to rescue the first, or perhaps to mock him. This piece, which visitors may not even notice if they don’t look up, therefore simultaneously involves the ever-changing
faces of the sky and the whiteness of the buildings, and encourages us to revel in our dynamic world. It was composed by welding together small scraps of black iron plate, which present differently according to variations in the light.
 Morikita is active in a number of disciplines, including painting, sculpture, and installations, in each inviting viewers into his unique and mysterious realm.

Photo: Iwasaki Mami

 Passing through a glass skywalk, visitors encounter an installation by Børre Sæthre. Approaching the entrance, the door slides open automatically to reveal a space composed all in white. As we enter the room, the door closes behind, drawing us into Sæthre’s world. Inside, the room with its soft, rounded edges and forms is oddly reminiscent of a spaceship interior. The installation features elements such as white acrylic panels, reflections in a huge mirror ball, “reconstructed” imagery of auroras, and music playing in the background. Monitors show electronic signals generated by noise from cathode ray tubes, and on the floor, the pose of a white furry animal seems to suggest something.
 Inspired by classic psychological sci-fi movies such as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Andrei A. Tarkovsky’s Solaris, Sæthre produces spatial artworks that accompany the narrative dimensions of his creative universe. Entering into the world of his artwork is like a journey through his imaginative tales, and clues are found throughout the installation. Preferring stories without clear plotlines, Sæthre says he is obsessed with uncanniness and the inexplicable surreal. His work has a certain retro deja-vu sensibility.

Photo: Oyamada Kuniya

 The white cube composition of the art center appears to shift dramatically between sunset and nine o’clock each night, thanks to the power of Takahashi Kyota’s light art. Colorful light is projected onto each wall, and changes, moment by moment, creating incredibly beautiful, ephemeral effects that seem not quite of this world. In framing this piece, Takahashi focused on the composite planes, rather than the cubic volumes, of the buildings. It is almost as if he has disassembled the museum’s three-dimensional architecture, and reassembled it two-dimensionally. The way the light surfaces shift weightlessly over time constitutes a new form of expression that could be described as light architecture. To control the changes in light, the artist has applied the fluctuating patterns of fluid surfaces, successfully giving the work an organic aura almost like breathing. This piece has become part of the Towada nightscape, offering changes of color for every season, and every event.
 Takahashi has created many pieces that develop a dramaturgy of space using light and moving images, and also frequently collaborates on music and dance projects internationally.

Photo : Kitamura Mitsutaka

 One important theme of Towada Art Center is the experiential collaboration between art and architecture; something palpable from the moment one enters the building and begins engaging with the art. Jim Lambie’s installation exemplifies this sensation, using brightly colored vinyl tape all over the floors of the entrance hall and ticket counters that all visitors initially pass through. The tape forms rhythmical stripe patterns and traces shapes in the space, such as windows and the cloak area. Composed to be seen from the street outside through the glass wall, the installation is neither painting, nor sculpture, yet it creates different dimensions of space integrated within the architectural structure.
 Known for his masterful use of colors and materials, Lambie has created many such dimension altering, sweeping yet delicate works.

Photo: Oyamada Kuniya
Courtesy of The Artist and The Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd, Glasgow

 Here British artist Paul Morrison has created an enormous mural on the 10 by 20-meter white exterior wall of a prominent rest area in the museum complex.
 The painting is a black-and-white contemporary landscape taking as its motif the role of the apple tree in myth. Morrison deliberately chose a monochromatic palette that allows the viewer to imagine and project their own sense of coloration onto the work.
 Drawing inspiration from sources that range from popular cartoons to botanical drawings to Renaissance woodcuts, Morrison creates his graphic assemblages by manipulating found images. Despite being fictional, the resulting hybrid landscapes seem to reflect their natural surroundings.

Photo : Oyamada Kuniya
Courtesy Alison Jacques Gallery, London

 Tsubaki Noboru has installed a gigantic, bright red leafcutter ant, like an enormous mutant, in front of Towada Art Center facing the street. The leafcutter ant is found in the rainforests of Central and South America. One might not imagine−given their frightful appearance−that they are actually agricultural creatures, cutting tree leaves to bring to their nests and grow the fungus that makes up their diet. Tsubaki has super-sized the ant to look like a giant robot to give us an insight into the workings of the natural world, diverse beyond imagination, and at the same time, to sound a warning about the ballooning consumerism that has driven agriculture to crisis point, trapped by our modern-day obsession with economic growth.
 Tsubaki has been creating colorful, gigantic sculptures of mutant creatures and living organisms since the late 1980s. He famously exhibited a 55-meter-long locust balloon affixed to the outside of the InterContinental Yokohama Grand Hotel for Yokohama Triennale 2001, warning of overconfidence in globalization. His work of recent years often involves grafting socially-conscious messages onto the forms of popular insects.

Photo: Oyamada Kuniya

 Yoko Ono is recognized worldwide as one of the most important artists of the post-war art world. Her unconventional practice, spanning a range of fields as diverse as art, music, performance, and video, has influenced many artists, not least of which was John Lennon.
 In Towada, Ono exhibits one of her classic works, Wish Tree, a prayer for peace first presented in 1996, and executed since in locations around the world. Wish Tree is a participatory work in which visitors write their wishes on white strips of paper and tie them onto a tree. An apple tree was chosen for Towada, both because the apple has long been an important motif for the artist, and because apples are a popular product of the Aomori region. The accumulated paper strips are delivered to Ono once a year and then preserved in Imagine Peace Tower, a monument for world peace built in Reykjavik, Iceland.
 Here Ono pairs Wish Tree with the cobblestone river piece Riverbed, and Bell of Peace, a functioning temple bell donated by the Daikakuji temple, bringing into play the entire courtyard. Each of these works is very specific to the Towada area and made more profound by being exhibited together in this manner.

Photo: Oyamada Kuniya
© Yoko Ono All Rights Reserved

 Federico Herrero has turned the interior of a thirteen-meter, three-story stair tower at Towada Art Center, and its connecting rooftop, into a work of art. An artist who has long placed importance on presenting art in informal contexts, Herrero has carried out many painting projects in public spaces. Working without preliminary sketches, he paints in an improvisational flow contained by neither canvas frame nor flat plane, the work leaping around the space, from walls to floors and ceiling. The colors and forms in Herrero’s works depend largely on inspirations gained on site. Here in Towada, he took three weeks to convert his impressions into painted form. Climbing the tower with its bright, writhing colors and forms, we see blue gradually increasing in the composition, eventually reaching a rooftop dominated by a beautiful blue reflecting the blue sky. The rooftop functions as an observation deck from which a panorama of the city and its natural surroundings mirrors the artist’s message that, “The world is connected by the sky.”
 Herrero studied architecture and painting in San Jose (Costa Rica) and New York. Active globally, he participated in the arts program for Expo 2005, Aichi, early in his career.

Image: Mirror
Photo: Iwasaki Mami

 Bridge of Light resembles a hexagonal pedestal that has fallen on its side, revealing a hollow interior that could be construed as either a tunnel or a human body in repose. Geometric in shape, the sculpture functions as an open passage that allows the viewer to observe the work both inside and out. The sculpture’s invitation to step inside, aided by soft, ambient music, transforms the relationship between the audience and the work and subverts our traditional image of what sculpture should be.
 What is sculpture? This is the question posed by Bridge of Light, and it is one that Ana Laura Aláez has been asking since the very beginning of her career. While extremely artistic in theme, it also challenges traditionally masculine images of strength, firmness, and rugged physicality, which are characteristics not only demanded of individuals by society but also typically valued in sculpture.
 This attempt to dismantle such stereotypical concepts can be seen as Aláez advocating for what she may interpret as an ideal society.

Photo : Oyamada Kuniya

 Rafaël Rozendaal’s artwork is inspired by the structure of the internet and the visual layout of the browser window. Presented as websites, his artworks are available for anyone to access at any time.

 Rozendaal’s Haiku series is a series of English-language haiku written by Rozendaal and was sparked by his interest in Japanese poetry. He says he was attracted to the enduring power of haiku poetry and the way in which poems are not bound by materiality and how words are able to move freely between physical and digital realities on the web. His Haiku series diverges from the rules of traditional Japanese haiku in that the poems merely consist of three-line phrases without regard to the number of syllables. The words are laid out as if you were opening a book, with five different colored backgrounds appearing at random irrespective of the poetry.


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*Japanese talk

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*Japanese talk

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Artist interview


Documentary video of the performance at Towada Art Center

December 10, 2019