With Naoki Matsuyama, Mayrhofer-Ohata, Aki Namba and Yoshinori Niwa
Curated by Mika Maruyama
Under the ongoing project “Glocalization” at Medo Space, which refers to the artistic practice of “thinking globalization, action localization,” the exhibition “Protocols of Together” brings together artists, a designer, and a researcher with a certain Japanese background who are currently based in Austria. With a cross-cultural identity, their works often touch on how the relationship between different “locals” occurs in the context of “globalization.”
“Protocols of Together” proposes an exploration of the vague boundaries between an individual and larger groups, including communities, crowds, publics, and society, and reflects on how and which moment individuals turn into such a group with a sense of belonging or discomfort, and vice versa. In other words, in the current global capitalist society where one feels apart from each other while being forced to belong to groups in different levels, how could the coevolution of space shared with different “imaginary” or “illusory” communities be understood
Through different practices, the exhibition tackles the process of organization of individuals and the extended threshold of communication within a new cultural and social environment. During the exhibition, a Japanese style snack bar and karaoke, which used to offer a place in-between the private sphere and the local community, will appear in the gallery space to build a bridge over closed communications.
BAR INBETWEEN by Aki Namba refers to a Japanese snack bar which used to offer a place in-between the private sphere and the local community. However, the snack bar in Japan also implies a traditional gender role as it is a kind of hostess bar, an alcohol-serving bar that employs female staff who are paid to serve and flirt with male customers. Besides, during the high growth of the economy after the war, many female immigrants came to Japan as a hostess, and they took on that traditional and conservative female role in the countryside. Reflecting on these dynamics of gender, ethnicity, and labor in art practices, BAR INBETWEEN in Vienna offers an opportunity to enjoy conversations beyond the demarcation of public and private.
The sound installation Sounds Public (2019) by Naoki Matsuyama is a sound installation related to his current research on public loudspeakers in Japan, especially focusing on the system known as Municipal Disaster Management Radio Communication Network. The public loudspeaker system in Japanese cities does not only warn of disasters but also plays a role in the mundane formation of togetherness through diverse functions. According to his research and analysis on the imaginations of the public inscribed in this system, the sounds from the public loudspeaker connects the residents through selected messages and modes of signification, while inducing a semiotic consistency with the country’s cultural history, for example with the choice of music from the era in which Japan underwent rapid Westernization.
In the project Selling the Right to Name a Pile of Garbage (2014, 25′43 min) Yoshinori Niwa will sell the rights to name a pile of garbage in the suburbs of Manila, the Philippines represented by the Smokey Mountain, which was reported globally in the 1980s as a symbolized poverty. The government feared the bad reputation of the country and led them to close some processing plants or make the land a so-called unnamed land that are not officially on a map. At the same time, the fundamental problems remain unsolved such as collapse accidents and residents forcibly evacuated end up them moving to another processing place. In this project, Niwa focuses on the increasing insufficient landfill problem caused by the Philippine law prohibiting incineration facilities and its limit and place a naming rights business in the heart of the final resting place of the garbage, which is fundamentally produced as a result of any human activities. Including the negotiations with the workers and managers who work at the sites, the artist attempts to turn those piles of garbage, which is often thought to be a negative aspect of the society, into money in an alchemically, capitalistic way. From the clashes of rights and the contradiction between the monetary value that is created from this unrealistic business and land ownership, this project reexamines various problems on ownership which is considered an individual right for human beings.
WELCOME TO MY BODY (2019) by Mayrhofer-Ohata is a self-optimization sanctuary. The work plays with the skin of unhappy households, hard-foam climate protection boards (XPS plates for energy management), and transforms the pink material into a sculptural body. On the threshold between interiority (mind, reverie, and solitude) and exteriority (body, action, and society), the work interweaves energy-politics and bio-politics into a new poetry of a human being: a young, wild and isolated exotic figure, weak but taking itself for strong, is looking for the unsolved desire to be born again, and to transform its body into the esthetic realm.
Mayrhofer-Ohata’s LICKING, LIKING, LINKING (2016) is a reenactment of the Boris Groys’ text Google: Words Google: Words beyond Grammar. In the original version of this work with video performance, book and installation, three randomly chosen people taste words out of this text first published on the occasion of documenta(13). This way to perform the philosophical text provoked a shift towards the sensing body and opened up a fresh dimension: tasty knowledge from dissolved grammar as “a prolonged dialogue with the world.” In this exhibition, one video from the work is being shown.
Date: March 19-30, 2019
Opening with Karaoke night: March 19, 19:00
Venue: Medo space (Franzensgasse 6/1a, 1050 Vienna)
Download the handout: HERE
Photo by Elodie Grethen and Mayrhofer-Ohata