In Art, Artist, Capitalism, colonialism, Culture, digitalization, empire, Exhibition, financialization, imperialism, News, outdoor art, Painting, public art, street art on
I had a great time strolling around Brooklyn with Josh and David from everythingisfreenow.org a few days ago. It’s been awhile since everythingisfreenow.org left social media platforms. But of course that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. They’ve quietly placed hundreds of paintings on the streets of Brooklyn so far. If you know where to look, you see that their work has become a part of the cityscape. Their work has turned the public space into a place to appreciate and discuss art and life.
The language of art manifests as the language of life. No matter how hard the ruling class tries to digitize everything, financialize everything, commodify everything, colonize everything to mold everything into the imperial framework, life finds ways to build its social fabric on its own terms.
New York has gone through so much: Wave after wave of neoliberal restructuring have been inflicted in the name of fighting crimes, terrorisms, and the virus. The same people who define “crises” have been the ones who benefit from “the solutions”. The social hierarchy is maintained and continues to function as a machine of structural extortion. But life still persists as art on streets, community gardens, cooperative housing projects and etc. Seeing them up close and hearing about them from Josh and David warmed my heart.
Here are some photos from their website:
I am not religious at all in a traditional sense. But being in my studio struggling to make work has taught me that there are incomprehensible mechanisms operating beyond our perceptions. The glimpses of the vastness show up as “uncanny coincidences”, “unexplainable perceptions”, “overwhelming emotions of unknown origins” and so on.
So when I felt an unexplainable familiarity in being in Korea, an overwhelming sense of nostalgia and extreme sadness in leaving the country, I was not too puzzled, but still the sensation was new and palpable. All I can say is that things connect in some unknown ways and I humbly feel it as it is.
This is one of the bigger shows I have had, with 17 art works in a large venue with 2 floors.
The pieces were selected by Jung Lee the director of Gana Art and his curators. The set certainly has a cohesive theme of some sort, but I couldn’t pin point it initially. The director basically said that he thought about the taste of the Korean audience. The pieces filled up the venue like they were made for it. They certainly made selections which are cogent and very effective as a whole.
Having been in Korea looking at its art, new and old, working with people there and breathing the air in Seoul, I came to speculate on an intuitive level that the theme has something to do with some sort of faceless force of nature which grips hearts of the people in the region. And grips hearts of people in surrounding regions just as the Japanese centuries ago were so passionately fascinated by their ceramics in a narrowly defined context of “wabi sabi” sensibility. In reality, though, what I am trying to describe exists in more fundamental and ubiquitous ways, which can manifest in countless ways. It’s the resigned harmony with the unknown vastness, which I also feel as a basis of my studio practice. To me, being in studio is to be a listener, a keen observer, a channeler, who reflects dynamics surrounding us as patterns which resonate with us with visceral significance.
And this somehow relates back to my feeling about being in Seoul—my familiarity and affinity toward it. I am deeply drawn to the land, food and its people without knowing exactly how or why. My attempt in articulating it seems to remain circular as words go around the essence.
In any case, I thank the wonderful people I met there and I look forward to our future collaborations.
Here are some images from the show. Some detail images have been added, which were photographed previously in my studio.
In Art, Artist, Capitalism, creative process, Culture, Exhibition, Installation, new work, News, Sculpture on
I’ve been asked to participate in an outdoor exhibition titled Drive By Art organized by Warren Neidich. It takes place on the eastern end of Long Island where I’m located. Artists come up with unorthodox ways to show art, and hopefully the event generates constructive discussions on the extraordinary situation we are in. This gives me an opportunity to try placing three of my sculptures outside, which I haven’t done before. Yesterday, my wife and I looked around the woods by our house and discussed how we go about it. We went ahead and placed one of the pieces at a spot my wife noticed. It was eye-opening to see the piece liberate itself at the spot. What a way to interact with nature. Of course, this is hardly new—countless artists prefer to show their work outside—but it’s better late than never. Oh well. We plan to place one right by the road,and we haven’t decided about the last one yet. Pretty exciting. The event takes place on May 9th and 10th, Noon to 5pm. Around 50 artists will participate. I will also make my recent essay available hoping that it will generate some discussions among us.
Please go to the website for more info:
Here are some images from the Bookstein Projects show. The show is up till February 15, 2020.Bookstein Projects60 East 66th Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10065Tel (212) email@example.com.................
One of my pieces is in a group show at Pablo’s Birthday, NYC. Please read what the show is all about below.
#53, 2005-08, ENAMEL, OIL, PLASTER, TAR AND WAX, 96 DIAMETER X 37 CM, 38 DIAMETER X 14.5 IN
HERE + NOW
Exhibition dates: June 26th – July 3rd, 2019
Press preview: Wednesday, June 26th, 5-7pm
Opening reception: Thursday, June 27th, 6-9pm
Pablo’s Birthday and OFFICE IMPART are pleased to present “HERE+NOW”, a 7-day exhibition project which aims to raise awareness about how today’s digital age is changing the traditional art gallery model with the increase of online platforms or other examples of digital presence within the arts.
Following a conviction in the necessity to create new collaborative models, a selection of the most distinguished online art platforms currently operating in the market have been invited to showcase their artists at Pablo’s Birthday gallery space.
Participating platforms: Daily Collector, Isthisit?, This Ain’t Art School, ARTPIQ, hiato projects, AXS Art, Freud Monk Gallery will present compelling works as well as a selection of events which will revolve around this topic, “the new digital era”. We are pleased to announce ARTLAND, Daily Plinth and New Art Academy as our media partners. ARTLAND will create and provide a virtual 3D tour of the exhibition, Daily Plinth will showcase a selection of video vignettes from the project, and New Art Academy will include the digital art exhibited in their newborn marketplace for digital art.
Full list of participant platforms and artists includes: ISTHISIT?, Stine Deja (London, UK) and Joshua Citarella (New York, US); Daily Collector, Jenny Brosinski (Berlin, Germany) and Jonathan Todryk (Dallas, US); ARTPIQ, Sooyoung Chung (Seoul, South Korea) and Ant Hamlyn (Northampton, UK); hiato projects, Paul Weiner (Denver, US) and Irati Inoriza (Balmaseda, Spain), THIS AIN´T ART SCHOOL, Anna Ehrenstein (Tirana, Berlin) and Tara Wray (Kansas, US); AXSART, Tahnee Lonsdale (West Sussex, UK) and Lisette van Hoogenhuyze (The Hague, Netherlands); Freud Monk Gallery, Johan Deckmann (Copenhagen, Denmark) and Hiroyuki Hamada (New York, US); OFFICE IMPART, Hannah Sophie Dunkelberg (Berlin, Germany) and Tristan Schulze (Leipzig, Germany); and PABLO’S BIRTHDAY with Carla Gannis (Oxford, US) and Liz Naiden (New York, US).
Recently new innovative models have arisen that look on how to mediate art today. It is a reaction to the changing society due to new technologies, more possibilities, and a broader visual art market. The art scene opens up and is trying to reach a wider audience. The next generation is eager to try out new, more contemporary solutions that are fun, in demand for different formats and other means to present art.
We are interested in the diversity that new mediums present for showing art, through online galleries, pop-ups, social media based platforms exposing and gathering artists, and young emerging galleries that are vivid, hybrid and engage in this new online-based trend.
How do these different models work, what are their aims, what drives them? This is what we want to ask. How do these new models change and adapt to the art world? What happens with the reception of art? How and where to reach an audience in the digital era?
We believe in collaboration and want to group these new ways and create a vibrant exchange by opening a space for it. For one week a group show will develop with a range of diverse players and will be completed by a dynamic program of discussions, performance, and thematization of these changes in the art world.”
You can see images of the pieces in the show at Pablo’s Birthday website.
My painting show at The Arts Center at Duck Creek will be open until 9pm on the next full moon night, June 17th—rain or shine. Bring your friends and family and watch as the dark blue night transforms the warm glow of the historic barn.
Hot tea and sweets will be served.
11-9pm on Monday, June 17, 2019
Regular hour: 11-6pm, Thursday-Monday and by appointment through June 23rd 2019
People sometimes ask me what religion Japanese people practice. I usually end up saying that Japanese people aren’t very religious at all. But paradoxically, if you go to Japan, you encounter huge shrines at tourists’ spots and there are numerous smaller ones across the country in many forms. You visit a Japanese household, you might also find a shrine, a box shaped prayer spot, called butsudan.
There certainly are indications that Japanese society is bound together, to a certain extent, with beliefs, values and norms deriving from variations of Buddhism and Shintoism.
To me, who grew up in Japan, it is natural to perceive such a traditional framework as a cohesive layer that can be loosely described as sort of “religious”. It guides traditional ceremonies and rituals of life, death and spiritual, and it contributes to world views of the Japanese people in varying degrees.
However, it should also be noted that this framework really does not address fundamental existential questions for the Japanese people today. In other words, people would go along with the customary rituals as long as they facilitate their social interactions and obligations, however, as soon as they impede their material necessity, they can be set aside. Japanese society is extremely secular and the grip of the socioeconomic hierarchy over its people is very firm. After all, Japan has played a crucial role as an economic power in the western hegemony for generations after it was incorporated into the order of the American empire.
Our trip to Mount Nokogiri, however, has shown me how the abstract notion of traditional Japan has many layers that are deeply conflicting and it has had tumultuous aspects as we examine it in historical contexts.
Mount Nokogiri is located in Boso Peninsula, Chiba. As you can see on a map it is relatively close to Tokyo. My wife and I visited the area once before we had our kids. I loved seeing rakan statues (stone carved arhat statues) along the path during our hike. To me they appeared as expressions of lives emanating from the area which had been regarded as sacred for many centuries.
This time, we decided to stay for a couple of nights at a nearby seaside city, Tateyama. The inn we picked had a nice view of the water and hot spring baths. Since my mother couldn’t take the mountain hike, I wanted her stay to be nice as well. It was a few rustic train stops away to Mount Nokogiri.
I really liked riding the rural trains in the area. Going a few hours south from Yachiyo city into the Peninsula made the scenery much greener and it was fascinating to observe a glimpse of country life as we passed fields cultivated with various crops, a house sitting among trees without a discernible way to get there, huge hawks flying over us and the water visibly getting cleaner as we got closer to our destination.
The hike was magnificently wonderful. It was a bit strenuous for me, with numerous steps. But I’ve never felt a physical exercise to be so refreshing, so invigorating and so satisfying (in fact, it inspired me to start exercising again when I came back to the States).
I took many pictures of the small statues as we walked. If you look at the statues carefully, you will notice that the necks of them have traces of reattachment. Those statues were all violently destroyed once during the haibutsukishaku movement. As the rule of the Tokugawa shogun family ended in 1868, the new government, aspiring to be one of the imperial powers of the time, embarked on drastic reforms. One of them was a separation of Buddhism and Shintoism. Shintoism was elevated as a national religion while Buddhism was regarded as a part of the old power. There was a strong momentum to see the power of Buddhist entities as an abusive and corrupt part of the past. The accounts from the time certainly indicate that the deeds of the Buddhist class did reflect such descriptions. The result was an emergence of a large scale destructive movement across the country against anything Buddhist. As to Shintoism, it eventually ended up as the backbone of imperial Japan, propping up the Japanese emperor as a living god, prompting a direct collision with the US imperial plan over the hegemonic rule of Asia. The inhumane momentum of destruction and atrocity took many lives in Asian countries. In the name of the living god the Japanese colonizers sent young lives as suicide bombers. The colonizers of the US dropped nuclear bombs on two cities full of people in order to declare its hegemonic superiority against enemies and allies alike.
Today the Buddihist legacy in the Mount Nokogiri area is regarded as a significant cultural asset. The beautiful trails are well maintained, so are the shrines and statues for many visitors. It was breathtaking to encounter spectacular views throughout our walk. The weight of the historical layers also compounded the profound orchestration of the natural elements. The moss covered expressions of the aged statues–sad, tormented, resigned, angered, struggling, peaceful and fulfilled–were voices from the past beautifully sublimated within the harmony of nature and people.
As we were waiting for our bus back home, a man at a tiny local restaurant insisted that we take a look at an underground imperial Japanese fortress in Tateyama. Although we couldn’t extend our trip for it, according to him, a mile-long tunnel dug during WW2 is something you must not miss if you were in the area. He also mentioned that the entire Mount Nokogiri was a huge military fortress during the war. To the imperial Japan, the area, situated at the entrance to Tokyo Bay, was the last defense on the ground protecting Tokyo against the invading US forces.
Famed sculptor Isamu Noguchi said that time can heal stones in describing his stone carving process. Time can certainly give us a thrust of objectivity while natural elements can provide a layer of harmony, presenting a new way to understand what unfolds before us. Mount Nokogiri certainly stood as a sacred ground before me. The overwhelming sense of awe generously erased the scars of human atrocity.
However, it has also made me aware of myself as a captive of our time. Tateyama’s imperial Japanese base is now a base for the Japanese self-defense force. The corporate media is eerily silent about the fortification of islands around Okinawa, which lies at the tip of the archipelago and houses an American military base. Japanese regulations have been changed to allow a Japanese “self-defense force,” ostensibly to operate as a part of the western force against China. Those shifts coincide with the US pacific policy to counter China as an emerging economic power. And more urgently, I couldn’t help being reminded of inhumane atrocities of our time–bombing campaign against people, suicide bombing, underground fortress, destruction of environment and cultural heritage and so on and so forth are all elements emerging from the western colonial wars being waged against the Middle East and elsewhere today.
Have we learned anything from the past? Our ability to see our history and events embedded in it, weaving the flow of time and space, as a unified front, as a collective part of our identity, allow us to tolerate pains of atrocity, allow us to reconcile, allow us to rebuild and allow us to be. But we do know that the significant portions of the sufferings and deaths are endured by those who are powerless. How could we allow ourselves to let the momentum of time swallow so many of our fellow humans? Why are we tolerating colonial destabilization of “other people’s”? How could we close our eyes as we encounter people sleeping on streets or losing their lives because they can’t afford to be healthy? Why can’t we focus our hope for renewal for the people who have and will suffer the most? How could we recognize the fact that our willingness to tolerate the hierarchy of money and violence, as the shape of our species, inflicts pain against “others” and against ourselves at the same time, forcing ourselves to expect nuclear missile attacks instead of reaching out for sharing and peace?
Every time I hear people say that for things to get better, things have to get much worse, I think of what happened in Fukushima. Three nuclear meltdowns have not woken up the people. The nuclear industrial complex of Japan is firmly embedded within the war economy of the empire.
This is not the time for conflict. This is the time we need each other to see what has become of us. Let there be braveness, determination and steadfastness in renouncing the cannibalistic momentum of self-destruction. The sacred power of nature will always embrace us no matter how we will do.