It’s hard enough to remember last week or last month let alone the entire year. There have been too many things of value to mention them sparingly. However, I’ve made a outlined four shows that have meant something personally and therefore stuck out … but the list could definitely be much much longer. So for sake of fairness heres a brief list of other highlights — Transmission at Studio 35 Minutes; Open Space at NTT ICC; Open Studio 2014 at Geidai’s Film & New Media School on Yokohama’s key-side; Hitoshi Toyoda’s Nazuma slideshow shown at Yokohama Triennale, was novella-like in stretching 10-or-more years and several countries. Shown in complete silence, the only sound except the double slide projection was the faint whisper of Hitoshi’s voice translating text over walkie-talkie; Anything that appeared at Misako & Rosen gave new meaning to the term ‘local’ having discovered they’re a stones-throw from my front door and that comedian Jin Katagiri (Rahmens) is also a neighbour, along with Maya Hewitt, Josh Brand, Nathan Hylden, Yui Yaegashi, J. Parker Valentine, Motoyuki Daifu and of course Daan van Golden; Luke Fowler & Toshiya Tsunoda at Taka Ishii Gallery; and beginning the year, Private Utopia, a collection of contemporary Art from the British Council archives at Tokyo Station Gallery (winner of the award for strangest location)
Those were the highlights. These were main events.
Ken Kagami, ”Bronze Works 2013-2014” at Misako and Rosen (February)
Ken whose main reason is to contravene convention and encourage you to laugh ‘with’ him and not ‘at’ him, had his first show of bronze works earlier this year. Q-tips, toilet rolls, junk food and even a bra were all cast in bronze and displayed in acrylic vitrines. Purposely thrust into the conventional surroundings of a white gallery, his work is a massive breath of fresh air embracing and ridiculing traditional and craft with an infectious sense of humour. It set him up for a year of recognition, with an appearance at this years Frieze Art Fair London amongst others. What with his regular “All-Night Sponpon” radio show installations at both Tokyo Art Book Fair and guerrilla gathering at Nakameguro’s Voilld including amongst others Masano Hirayama and Motoyuki Daifu, his industry equally fosters a diverse community of like-minds, as thought-provoking and as eye-raising as his!
“Paintings” (Group show) at Hagiwara Projects (July)
The discreet show of paintings was panacea to this summers “Ways of Painting” group show at Tokyo Opera City Gallery, which suffered from chaotic spacing and the dominance of at least one gallery in one room with a single artist. Hagiwara Projects however provided a much simpler study of the provocative nature of painting bringing together NewYork natives Joshua Abelow, Heather Guertin, and Zak Prekop along with their counterpart Shunsuke Imai. It worked. With Guertin, also a stand-up comedian, the show was self-aware not self conscious, expressing an awareness for the problems paintings face at a time dominated by ‘image’ making.
MP1 (Kazuo Yoshida & Daisuke Yokota), “Expanded Retina #2”, at g3 Gallery (August)
Photographers by trade, Kazuo Yoshida and Daisuke Yokota are names in their own right. Both part of the group MP1 they put their photography to one side and produced an arresting installation originally filmed in the foothills of Mt Fuji at night and restaged at g3 Gallery at TOLOT/heuristic Shinonome. Directly referring to Tony Conrad’s 1966 film “The Flicker” and accompanying instructions — which greet you as you enter the gallery and pull back the back curtain — the shock of watching and walking through their installation points shows their willingness to explore territory and ideas far from photographic convention where images are fixed and final. Visceral and unapologetic, it was a thoroughly welcome sight!
Osamu Kanemura, “Nothing was Delivered” at Void+ (September)
Kanemura also stretched out beyond his own body of work. Known for brutal monochrome images of central Tokyo and cities throughout Japan and Europe he swapped his film camera for a digital one. The results, that also included video, took abstract views through windows — oblique passing shots of from behind glass; through a sea of signage, restaurant menus, fish tanks and shop displays — not only brought colour and sound to his work but also compounded his visually seductive view of a city in a permanent state of collapse. The exhibition featured no wall hung prints. A TV screen and projector flanked each other looping between two sets of work, some brand new (Dead Stick Landing) and some old yet rephotographed and shown here (Dead Stock Companion). His titles are just as seductive as his imagery. Expect more in the year to come!