TOKYO NONSENSE Scion presents
October 4 – 25, 2008
Within the Japanese vernacular the word “nonsense” has assumed various meanings throughout modern history, often being associated with radical expression that presented a challenge to the dominant discourse of the moment. In the early 1930s, “nonsense” was incorporated into the catch-all phrase eroguro-nansensu which the Japanese mass media used to label decadent and salacious popular culture (literature, film, theater) that was viewed as a threat to traditional family values. Then in the late 1960s, “nonsense” became the rally cry for the disaffected youth of Japan’s student protest movement to express their frustration with the current political and social situation at home and abroad. The rebellious and anti-establishment spirit evoked by the word “nonsense” in Japan’s past lives on today, reincarnated and rearticulated by a group of young artists working in Tokyo. Their work simultaneously reflects the precedent set by the “nonsense” of the 1930s—mislabeled as absurd and meaningless by the dominant discourse—while dismissing the dominant discourse itself as pure “nonsense,” reminiscent of the protest tactics employed in the 1960s.
In order to articulate this duality, many of the featured artists have chosen to work outside the traditional gallery/museum system by turning to more radical forms of expression such as performance, video, and installation art. The sixmember artist group Chimi Pom creates video and sculpture that capture an irreverent, raw energy that is born on the streets and back alleys of Tokyo. While their performances evoke vulgar adolescent pranks, the growing social consciousness in their work is evidenced by their recent project disarming minefields in Cambodia. Sachiko Kazama is best known for her black-andwhite woodblock prints that parody Japanese history, politics, and social issues with a healthy sense of irony and sarcasm. The work of Taro Izumi takes its form as video, installation, and drawing characterized by the use of found objects and a low-tech, do-it-yourself aesthetic. In his humorous yet ultimately defeatist works, the artist quietly vents his feelings of frustration through futile games and nonsensical play. The performances and mural paintings of Ichiro Endo rely on the artist’s body to communicate his intense optimism and spirited calls for change. Utilizing the energetic motto “GO FOR FUTURE!,” Endo’s work explores the future’s endless creative possibilities through the limited means of the present. Ai Kato (aka ai madonna) has amassed a cult following through her live painting performances in Akihabara, where the artist paints directly onto the side of her parked van. The means of executing her girlie, anime-inspired paintings share the vitality of a street performer, while creatively circumventing the traditional gallery system by exhibiting her works directly to the public. Lastly Iichiro Tanaka creates humorous, understated works that seemingly deny having any serious meaning. These deceptively simple works skillfully “turn meaning on its head,” blurring the line between the absurd and the profound.
—Gabriel Ritter, Curator
Ichiro Endo “GO FOR FUTURE”, “DON’T CRY”, “LOVE”, “VIVA ART!”… The message Ichiro Endo carries is always simple yet strong. These straight forward and positive expressions that Endo makes grab people by the heart, and often bring many people together to produce powerful energy. Cheerful and uplifting messages, art, and the world all remind us how important it is to keep hold of our dreams and to appreciate the beauty that lies among us. Art blooms in everyone’s life and their imagination, not within a gallery or a museum. Endo’s positive message proves that this is not unperceivable or difficult. Endo has been delivering these messages through various performances since he was a teenager. He lives in his car, “MIRAI– E –GO” (“GO FOR FUTURE!”), which is filled with countless dreams of people that Endo has engaged during his life. With his dreams and car, Endo marches on non-stop. Recently, he has launched a monthly publication, “NATURAL HI!!” and organizes programs and events to support young artists. He also organizes a fashion line called “Tamagawa Casual” which he is planning to sell. 1979 Born in Shizuoka, Japan Lives and works in Tokyo Solo Exhibitions 2008 Super Art Exhibition, ZENSHI, Tokyo Selected Group Exhibitions 2008 2007 2005
Future Art School, Kanagawa, Japan Performance at NADiff a/p/a/r/t, Ebisu, Tokyo ZENIN-TEN, magic room?, Tokyo Geisai Museum 2, Tokyo Big Site, Tokyo Radio Glory Road 2057, Art Center Wi-CANP, Chiba, Japan SA KURA JIMA Project, Yamashitaya Ryokan, Kagoshima, Japan The Second Gandhara Film Festival: Towards a Beautiful Country, Uplink Factory, Tokyo The Group 1965 Presents Seven Little Samurais + 1, ANPONTAN, Ginza, Tokyo Nishiogi Biennale, Makoto Aida’s home, Nishiogikubo, Tokyo
Iichiro Tanaka “Someday, I will make something completely meaningless.” 1974 1997 2001
Born in Aichi, Japan BA Visual Communication Design, Musashino Art University, Tokyo MA Design, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music Lives and works in Tokyo
Solo Exhibitions 2008 Spring Sale Show, Yuka Sasahara Gallery, Tokyo 2006 Classical music karaoke 2006, Yuka Sasahara Gallery, Tokyo 2004 The Second Solo Exhibition -LIFE. Fresh,Fresh,Fresh,Fresh. roentgenwerke, Tokyo Selected Group Exhibitions 2007 2006 2003
Roppongi Crossing 2007: Future Beats in Japanese Contemporary Art, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo Art and Play, The Museum of Modern Art Saitama, Saitama Food and Art part 2, BankART1929, Kanagawa aM Project Iichiro Tanaka×Tatsumi Masuoka, ASK? (Art Space Kimura) 108, Ise Cultural Foundation, New York Nemure Night, Live performance, move, Nishi-Azabu Bullets, Tokyo Ropponpon, Live performance, super deluxe, Tokyo THE FORCIBLE REBOOT, roentgenwerke, Tokyo
Taro Izumi Video and Zombie (I want to enter the video) Like light and shadow, it is well known that video images are pliable. But because my body is not flexible, I need a device to enter into the picture. First, I need to get into the video camera that I use for filming. Even for an octopus, this is a difficult thing to do. Taking out my shoulder bone is not nearly enough— if I could just get my fingertips into the camera I would be doing alright. But even if I were somehow able to get into the video camera, next I’d have to enter the TV monitor. Bending over backwards would still not be enough, and even if I happened to get into the monitor, I could never predict which way my head would be facing. In this way, in order to enter the video, I must prepare myself for the irrationality of becoming a zombie. If I figure out how to make use of video imagery, I can multiply my body and draw out ordinarily hidden, unconscious actions. Even when I leave this country, video will continue to move like an undying zombie. 1976 2000 2002
Born in Nara, Japan B.A. (Fine Art) Tama Art University, Japan M.A. (Fine Art) Tama Art University, Japan Lives and works in Tokyo
Solo Exhibitions 2008 2007 2006 2005
Jungle Book, Gallery Stump Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan Game Pedestal (Warehouse), buro013 by hiromi yoshii, Tokyo Trolly, hiromi yoshii, Tokyo GENIUS EPISODE 1 & 2, HIROMI YOSHII FIVE, Tokyo
Selected Group Exhibitions 2007 The Door into Summer – The Age of Micropop, Contemporary Art Gallery, Art Tower Mito, Ibaraki, Japan COLLECTOR’s CHOICE: Collection 2, Daelim Contemporary Art Museum, Korea Out of the Ordinary: New Video from Japan, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Techniques of Storytelling: Speaking of Unspeakable, SSamize Space, Alternative Space Loop, Seoul 2006 After The Reality, Deitch Projects, New York
Ai Kato Like many artists, my work is influenced by the environment in which I was born and raised. In addition to being born with a tendency toward Lolicon * and the Otaku** spirit, I have been greatly influenced by manga and anime. For this reason, my love for beautiful young girls of the two dimensional world seems perfectly natural. People often ask me why I only draw girls, and I answer honestly, “Because I like them the best.” I think that believing in what you love the most and drawing it is the simplest way to reach the audience’s heart. For this exhibition, I will focus on creating lively and vivacious works while communicating with both image and materials. Set in a Japanese style PVC greenhouse, I will create an installation full of drawings of young beautiful girls. Since the vinyl exterior of the greenhouse is transparent, I expect the light that comes through will change the atmosphere as if looking into a large amusing kaleidoscope. I hope to share and enjoy this kaleidoscopic world of beautiful girls with you all. August 2008, KATO Ai *Short for “Lolita complex”, it describes an attraction to young girls, or an individual with such an attraction. **Otaku, coined in the 1980s to refer to a fan of, or someone who specializes in any particular theme or hobby.
1984 Born in Tokyo, Japan 2007 Kato began introducing herself as “ai Lives and works in Tokyo
madonna” in her Live Paintings
Selected Activities 2008 2007 2005 2004
Group Exhibition, Chashing for the Cobalt Blue, ZENSHI, Tokyo Group Exhibition, ZENIN-TEN, MAGICROOM?, Tokyo LIVE Painting, magical ARTROOM 2nd ANNIVERSARY, pulse gallery, Tokyo Event, JAPAN WEEK 2007, Warsaw, Poland LIVE Painting, NATURAL HI!! ai madonna project began on the streets of Akihabara. Group Exhbition, Nishiogi Biennale, Makoto Aida’s home, Nishiogikubo, Tokyo Group Exhibition, KOTATSU-HA 2, Mizuma Art Gallery, Tokyo Group Exhibition, Les metamorphoses du quotidan, Museum of Modern Art, Gunma
ChimgPom Super Rat, November 2006 Art, Rock, Punk, the culture that whishes being just as beautiful as a rat Japanimation, Gals or Japan-Pop. All of them are at the cross-point of “Super Flat” We considered it resembled the cross-point in Shibuya We assumed We assumed so Then we took a train to Shibuya Center-gai. Young people these days like us the “Super Rats” which were created from the urban life by modern people furrowing their brows We have a great deal of empathy for spending a distorted life with human beings Every single catches each other with the net bought at shopping amusement “Don Quijote” Not for extermination as if we can’t imagine a cow although we eat beef everyday We swear to our terrifying and strong spirit of animal protection The Only purpose is to create the real “Pikachu”, that’s all. Holding that dream, we kick a pile of garbage bags and chase after rats that are running along a wall “Wait, Super Rats, We are not your enemy. We are chim↑ pom!” At the center of Japan where everything seems to be explained apologetically we chased after rats and a dream to create our art.
ChimgPom Formed in Tokyo, August 2005 Members of Chim Pom Ellie Ryuta Ushiro Yasutaka Hayashi Masataka Okada Toshinori Mizuno Motomu Inaoka Formed by six young artists in 2005, Chim Pom has continued subverting the Japanese Art scene since its debut with “ERIGERO”. Initially shown at AIDA Makoto’s exhibition in San Francisco, the video work records the only female member Ellie drinking and vomiting pink liquid repeatedly. The other members are USHIRO Ryuta, HAYASHI Yasutaka, MIZUNO Noriaki, OKADA Masataka and INAOKA Motomu. Their first solo exhibition “SUPER RAT” provoked controversy with brown rats dyed yellow to mock a famous character. Their next exhibition, “Oh My God!” highlighted their continued interest in “life and death” as the main theme. The following exhibition, “Thank You Celeb Project: I’m Bokan” displayed and auctioned off luxury brand products they bombed with landmines in Cambodia, which earned them the grand prize at the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art in 2007 Solo Exhibitions 2008 2007 2006
Japanese Art is 10 Years Behind, NADiff a/p/a/r/t, Tokyo Thank You Celeb Project I’m BOKAN, Mujin-to Production,Tokyo Oh My God, Mujin-to Production, Tokyo SUPER RAT, Mujin-to Producion, Tokyo
Selected Group Exhibitions 2008 KITA!! Japanese Artists Meet Indonesia, Jogja National Museum, Yogyakarta When Lives Become Form: Dialogue with the Future - Brazil, Japan, The Museum of Modern Art of Sao Paulo 2007 Event HARAJUKU PERFORMANCE +, LAFORET MUSEUM, Tokyo Event Thank You Celeb Project: I’m BOKAN Charity Auction, P-House, Tokyo Emotion Burglar, BankART Studio NYK, Yokohama, Kanagawa DAIIWA RADIATOR FACTORY VIEWING ROOM vol.4, DAIIWA RADIATOR FACTORY VIEWING ROOM, Hiroshima Special Exhibition: Re-Act, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Hiroshima 2006 Event IKE IKE ACTION, A.R.T., Tokyo Event Eizo dayo ! Zenin Shugo!!, Mizuma Art Gallery, Tokyo 2005 Makoto Aida Solo Exhibition: Drink Sake Alone, Lisa Dent Gallery, San Francisco
Sachiko Kazama HL dots in the city In my childhood, around the entrance of Ueno park used to be a lot of beggars who were wounded in the war. Clothed in white with khaki military caps, those old men missing an arm or a leg used to play music with a harmonica or an accordion, waiting for somebody to throw coins into the box on their knees. Now I feel it strange that they all wore white kimonos, still the scene has lived in my memory as a symbol of post-war Japan thirty years after her defeat. Just like them, people who lost their place often end up in Ueno park after drifting here and there. Earthquake victims, war orphans, the unemployed, homeless people... Those shadows of society never cease to dot their lives in parks. The winter of economic prosperity has seen a lot of homeless people living in parks in Tokyo. In Shibuya Miyashita park there are homeless dwellers struggling against anti-homeless fences camouflaged as a fertile ground. Beneath the metropolitan building are homeless squatters, just as offending as crows, irritating the governor of Tokyo. Villages of blue-tarp tents in Yoyogi park are reminiscent of wartime bases used for military drills. From one park to another, they alter the form of dwellings and live in floating urban environments. In Tokyo, a city twinkling with neon and electric lights, the deep shadows of the homeless and their blue-tarp dwellings—just like the park greenery—dot black and blue across the urban scenery, having stolen into the flow of the seasons. 1972 Born in Tokyo, Japan 1996 Graduated from Department of Print Making, Musashino Art School Lives and works in Tokyo Solo Exhibitions 2007 MANTETSUJIN VS PRISON SU GAMO, Mujin-to Production, Tokyo 2005 criterium64: KAZAMA Sachiko, Contemporary Art Center, ArtTower Mito, Ibaraki 2003 Night, Futon and a Napalm bomb, Ningyo-cyo Exhibit Space VISION’S, Tokyo Selected Group Exhibtions
2006 The 10th Exhibition of the Taro Okamoto Award for Contemporary Art, Taro Okamoto Museum of Art, Kawasaki, Kanagawa 2001 VOCA 2001, The Ueno Royal Museum, Tokyo
SCION Installation L.A. 3521 Helms Ave. (at National) Culver City, CA 90232 www.scion.com/space 310-815-8840