Sunshower: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia 1980s to Now at Mori Art Museum / Nation Art Center Tokyo
June 24, 2017
Plum Shower at XYZ Collective May 21–June 18, 2017
“There is a rainy season called ‘Tsuyu’ or 梅雨 (plum rain) it is said that the name Tsuyu derived from plums that are ripening at the same time of the year. The rainy season is also called as ‘Baiyu’ which literally means mold rain because it gets humid every day causing mold to grow fast. Furthermore, the rainy season is referred to as Baiyu (plum rain), Samidare (rain of the the fifth month), and Baku-u (wheat rain).”
Performance was a week-long photo exhibition and event frequented by drinkers, karaoke singers and passers by. The gallery come bar (Snack Ayumi) is a windowless room at the base of a nondescript building that faces a rallying point for local gangsters soon to be demolished. At one point an off-duty detective dropped by, but was only interested in the drinking room opposite and their clientele. Everyone around here though keeps to themselves. ‘Snack’ is a short-hand for “camaraderie”—a place of escape for meeting friends, old and new. The space itself is like someones living room, with a TV to one side and a sound system in the other playing any song imaginable.
Performance featured a collection of images that treated photography as raw material. Framed photographs sit on top of images tapped to the wall, conscious of their own place and composition as well as the spread of old wallpaper, yellowed switches and extract fans images. Like the room itself, images were of isolated detail. They looks closer in the midst of ‘action’ now separated by will and the camera frame, with the focus of attention railing against the frame’s immediate surroundings.
The show was a tug of war between things placed in the world on purpose or things chanced-upon. Images were active and reactive, staged or framed as such. They drew on fabrication and the redundancy of worldliness where things are seen as relative to one another, or lacking any sense of relativity. They appeared close and connected when in fact they can be anything but.
In the show’s background played a soundtrack of spoken word recordings that tracked another slice of surrounding madness and delirium—Albino Amphibian Dream Diary, a half-remembered dream reimagined by someone that collects reptiles; Modern Lovers, the delusion of a stalker; and The Fifth Floor, where brothel and hotel are one and the same.
During the day the space served as a gallery, and at night Snack Ayumi returned to normal with the work left hanging in place. Yet for those that visited the exhibition, the gallery became a meeting spot and space of discussion—topics as varied as daytime TV drama and Lucy Lippard’s Six Years (1973) . The show’s motif (actress Nagisa Katahira) came from the television drama Stewardess Monogatari (A Stewardess’ Story) and served as a keyframe for the nature of incidental things, the delusion of seeing and being seen, anonymity, and the exhibition as a place that fostered a community of likemindedness.
Spoken-word recordings by Kaseo Beuys,
– Albino Amphibian Dream Diary (unpublished)
– Modern Lovers, in ‘Ghostly’, Issue 5 of Organs Everywhere (2017)
– The Fifth Floor, features an extract from The Lazarus Project by Alexander Hemon, London: 2009 (123-124)
Stewardess Monogatari (A Stewardess’ Story) Serial drama on TBS (1983-84)