Electric Dress

Atsuko Tanaka, ‘Electric Dress’ (1956/1986)

↑ Iconic, Gutai artist Atsuko Tanaka’s best-known artwork combined a conventional garment of clothing with functioning lamps to envelop the wearer in light.
For more on this work and others: TheArtOfConnectingAtsukoTanaka

Pillow for the Dead

Rei Naito, Pillow for the Dead, (1999)

↑ In an interview with art-it.asia, Rei Naito was asked about the process behind this work: “It involved scooping water from a reef by the sea into a conduit and breathing on it. The work was about vitality, and giving in return what we receive by “sending breath” out into the sea or sky,” said the artist.
For more on Naito’s work: matrix-teshima-art-museum-2010/

Cut Piece

Yoko Ono, ‘Cut Piece’ (1964)

↑ An “essay in trust”, Yoko Ono’s ‘Cut Piece’ allowed viewers to take a pair of scissors to cut away the artist’s clothes. Being both the artist and the art object, Ono implicates the audience in the act of unveiling the female body.
For more on this work and others: yoko-ono-s-cut-piece-explained/

Dream House

Dream House, Marina Abramović (2000)

↑ Taking place in a hundred-year-old house deep in the Japanese countryside is Marina Abramović’s ‘Dream House’. Conceived for Echigo-Tsumari art festival, this work is an invitation to dream in a special sleeping suit, in a unique bed, and to record what you dream in a book.
For more on this work: dreamhouse


Motohiko Odani, ‘Ruffle’ (2009-10)

↑ Concerned with how the physicality of objects relate to the body, the materials used in Motohiko Odani’s dress ‘Ruffle’ appear so mechanical that it could almost be used as a propeller.
For more on this work and others: phantom-limb


Yves Klein, Hiroshima (c. 1961)

↑ Famous for using naked female bodies as ‘human brushstrokes’ in his series of ‘Anthropometry’ paintings, Yves Klein also created ‘Hiroshima’ – a negative equivalent where bodies shield the pigment from the canvas.


Emiko Kasahara, ‘Sheer’ (2007)

↑ Created for the Japan Society Gallery in New York, Emiko Kasahara’s installation is an environment filled with stockings stretched over a grid structure while voices can be heard mourning loss.
For more on Kasahara’s work: ceramic-grenades/

Soft & Hairy House

Ushida Findlay, ‘Soft and Hairy House’, Ibaraki (1994)

↑ Taking its name from a quote by Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali where the artist proclaims that the architecture of the future will be “soft and hairy” the Japanese/Scottish partnership Eisaku Ushida and Kathryn Findlay realised a project that did just that.
For more on their work: ushida

Lunchbox Paintings

Makoto Aida, From the series ‘Lunchbox Paintings’ (2016)

↑ Conceptual art’s readymades, pop art’s packaging, and action painting’s gestures are all squeezed into Makoto Aida’s series ‘Lunchbox Paintings’, not to mention the scatological and bodily references.
For more on this series of work: lunchbox-paintings/

Out of Disorder

Takahiro Iwasaki, From the ‘Out of Disorder’ series (2015)

↑ Architectural models of temples and miniature worlds hewn from rolls of tape populate Takahiro Iwasaki’s works. Nominated for the 2015 Nissan Art Award, this particular sculpture was made from wire and human hair.
For more on this competition: seven-finalists/

Does this soup taste ambivalent?

Ei and Tomoo Arakawa, Does this soup taste ambivalent? (2014)

↑ Fukushima born artist Ei Arakawa and his brother Tomoo asked Frieze Art Fairgoers to taste soup made from ingredients grown in Iwaki, a city about 60km south from the nuclear incidents. Torn between government assurances over food safety and the need to eat, this participatory artwork asks visitors to consider how many Japanese residents were affected after 3.11.
For more on Arakawa’s work: different-circles/

What is obscenity?

Rokudenashiko (Megumi Igarashi), ‘What is obscenity?’ 2016

↑ The word that rings out from Rokudenashiko’s famous court cases, if only for it being so bewilderingly misplaced, is the word is “obscenity”. Here the artist addresses what the Japanese authorities find so problematic about her artwork in this publication, a graphic memoir that opposes censorship and calls for equality.
For more on Rokudenashiko’s work: gallery/
©Nick West 2017