Tokyo Nonsense

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Tokyo Nonsense reflects the precedent set by the ‘nonsense’ of the 1930s- mislabeled as absurd and meaningless by the dominant discourse- dismissing the dominant discourse itself as pure ‘nonsense,’ reminiscent of the protest tactics employed in the 1960s.

Text of Tokyo Nonsense


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  • Within the Japanese vernacular the word nonsense has assumed various

    meanings throughout modern history, often being associated with radical ex-

    pression that presented a challenge to the dominant discourse of the moment.

    In the early 1930s, nonsense was incorporated into the catch-all phrase ero-

    guro-nansensu which the Japanese mass media used to label decadent and

    salacious popular culture (literature, film, theater) that was viewed as a threat to traditional family values. Then in the late 1960s, nonsense became the

    rally cry for the disaffected youth of Japans student protest movement to ex-

    press their frustration with the current political and social situation at home

    and abroad. The rebellious and anti-establishment spirit evoked by the word

    nonsense in Japans past lives on today, reincarnated and rearticulated by a

    group of young artists working in Tokyo. Their work simultaneously reflects the precedent set by the nonsense of the 1930smislabeled as absurd and

    meaningless by the dominant discoursewhile dismissing the dominant dis-

    course itself as pure nonsense, reminiscent of the protest tactics employed

    in the 1960s.

    In order to articulate this duality, many of the featured artists have chosen to

    work outside the traditional gallery/museum system by turning to more radical

    forms of expression such as performance, video, and installation art. The six-

    member artist group Chimi Pom creates video and sculpture that capture an

    irreverent, raw energy that is born on the streets and back alleys of Tokyo.

    While their performances evoke vulgar adolescent pranks, the growing social

    consciousness in their work is evidenced by their recent project disarming

    minefields in Cambodia. Sachiko Kazama is best known for her black-and-white woodblock prints that parody Japanese history, politics, and social is-

    sues with a healthy sense of irony and sarcasm. The work of Taro Izumi takes

    its form as video, installation, and drawing characterized by the use of found

    objects and a low-tech, do-it-yourself aesthetic. In his humorous yet ultimately

    defeatist works, the artist quietly vents his feelings of frustration through futile

    games and nonsensical play. The performances and mural paintings of Ichiro

    Endo rely on the artists body to communicate his intense optimism and spir-

    ited calls for change. Utilizing the energetic motto GO FOR FUTURE!, Endos

    work explores the futures endless creative possibilities through the limited

    means of the present. Ai Kato (aka ai madonna) has amassed a cult following through her live painting performances in Akihabara, where the artist paints

    directly onto the side of her parked van. The means of executing her girlie,

    anime-inspired paintings share the vitality of a street performer, while creatively

    circumventing the traditional gallery system by exhibiting her works directly

    to the public. Lastly Iichiro Tanaka creates humorous, understated works that

    seemingly deny having any serious meaning. These deceptively simple works

    skillfully turn meaning on its head, blurring the line between the absurd and

    the profound.

    Gabriel Ritter, Curator

    October 4 25, 2008

  • GO FOR FUTURE, DONT CRY, LOVE, VIVA ART! The message Ichiro Endo carries is always simple yet strong. These straight forward and positive expres-

    sions that Endo makes grab people by the heart, and often bring many people

    together to produce powerful energy. Cheerful and uplifting messages, art, and the world all remind us how important it is to keep hold of our dreams

    and to appreciate the beauty that lies among us. Art blooms in everyones life

    and their imagination, not within a gallery or a museum. Endos positive mes-

    sage proves that this is not unperceivable or difficult. Endo has been delivering these messages through various performances since he was a teenager. He

    lives in his car, MIRAI E GO (GO FOR FUTURE!), which is filled with count- less dreams of people that Endo has engaged during his life. With his dreams

    and car, Endo marches on non-stop. Recently, he has launched a monthly pub-

    lication, NATURAL HI!! and organizes programs and events to support young

    artists. He also organizes a fashion line called Tamagawa Casual which he is planning to sell.

    1979 Born in Shizuoka, Japan Lives and works in Tokyo

    Solo Exhibitions

    2008 Super Art Exhibition, ZENSHI, Tokyo

    Selected Group Exhibitions

    2008 Future Art School, Kanagawa, Japan Performance at NADiff a/p/a/r/t, Ebisu, Tokyo ZENIN-TEN, magic room?, Tokyo Geisai Museum 2, Tokyo Big Site, Tokyo2007 Radio Glory Road 2057, Art Center Wi-CANP, Chiba, Japan SA KURA JIMA Project, Yamashitaya Ryokan, Kagoshima, Japan The Second Gandhara Film Festival: Towards a Beautiful Country, Uplink Factory, Tokyo2005 The Group 1965 Presents Seven Little Samurais + 1, ANPONTAN, Ginza, Tokyo Nishiogi Biennale, Makoto Aidas home, Nishiogikubo, Tokyo

    Ichiro Endo

  • Someday, I will make something completely meaningless.

    1974 Born in Aichi, Japan1997 BA Visual Communication Design, Musashino Art University, Tokyo2001 MA Design, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music Lives and works in Tokyo

    Solo Exhibitions

    2008 Spring Sale Show, Yuka Sasahara Gallery, Tokyo2006 Classical music karaoke 2006, Yuka Sasahara Gallery, Tokyo2004 The Second Solo Exhibition -LIFE. Fresh,Fresh,Fresh,Fresh. roentgenwerke, Tokyo

    Selected Group Exhibitions

    2007 Roppongi Crossing 2007: Future Beats in Japanese Contemporary Art, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo2006 Art and Play, The Museum of Modern Art Saitama, Saitama Food and Art part 2, BankART1929, Kanagawa aM Project Iichiro TanakaTatsumi Masuoka, ASK? (Art Space Kimura)2003 108, Ise Cultural Foundation, New York Nemure Night, Live performance, move, Nishi-Azabu Bullets, Tokyo Ropponpon, Live performance, super deluxe, Tokyo THE FORCIBLE REBOOT, roentgenwerke, Tokyo

    Iichiro Tanaka

  • Video and Zombie (I want to enter the video)

    Like light and shadow, it is well known that video images are pliable. But be-

    cause my body is not flexible, I need a device to enter into the picture. First, I need to get into the video camera that I use for filming. Even for an octopus, this is a difficult thing to do. Taking out my shoulder bone is not nearly enough if I could just get my fingertips into the camera I would be doing alright. But even if I were somehow able to get into the video camera, next Id have to

    enter the TV monitor. Bending over backwards would still not be enough, and even if I happened to get into the monitor, I could never predict which way

    my head would be facing. In this way, in order to enter the video, I must prepare

    myself for the irrationality of becoming a zombie. If I figure out how to make use of video imagery, I can multiply my body and draw out ordinarily hidden,

    unconscious actions. Even when I leave this country, video will continue to

    move like an undying zombie.

    1976 Born in Nara, Japan2000 B.A. (Fine Art) Tama Art University, Japan2002 M.A. (Fine Art) Tama Art University, Japan Lives and works in Tokyo

    Solo Exhibitions

    2008 Jungle Book, Gallery Stump Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan2007 Game Pedestal (Warehouse), buro013 by hiromi yoshii, Tokyo2006 Trolly, hiromi yoshii, Tokyo2005 GENIUS EPISODE 1 & 2, HIROMI YOSHII FIVE, Tokyo

    Selected Group Exhibitions

    2007 The Door into Summer The Age of Micropop, Contemporary Art Gallery, Art Tower Mito, Ibaraki, Japan COLLECTORs CHOICE: Collection 2, Daelim Contemporary Art Museum, Korea Out of the Ordinary: New Video from Japan, The Museum of Contemporary Art,

    Los Angeles Techniques of Storytelling: Speaking of Unspeakable, SSamize Space,

    Alternative Space Loop, Seoul2006 After The Reality, Deitch Projects, New York

    Taro Izumi

  • Like many artists, my work is influenced by the environment in which I was born and raised. In addition to being born with a tendency toward Lolicon* and

    the Otaku** spirit, I have been greatly influenced by manga and anime. For this reason, my love for beautiful young girls of the two dimensional world seems

    perfectly natural. People often ask me why I only draw girls, and I answer hon-

    estly, Because I like them the best. I think that believing in what you love the

    most and drawing it is the simplest way to reach the audiences heart.

    For this exhibition, I will focus on creating lively and vivacious works while

    communicating with both image and materials. Set in a Japanese style PVC greenhouse, I will create an installation full of drawings of young beautiful girls.

    Since the vinyl exterior of the greenhouse is transparent, I expect the light that

    comes through will change the atmosphere as if looking into a large amusing

    kaleidoscope. I hope to share and enjoy this kaleidoscopic world of beautiful

    girls with you all.

    August 2008,

    KATO Ai

    *Short for Lolita complex, it describes an attraction to young girls, or an individual with such an attraction.**Otaku, coined in the 1980s to refer to a fan of, or someone who specializes in any particular theme or hobby.

    1984 Born in Tokyo, Japan2007 Kato began introducing herself as ai madonna in her Live Paintings

    Lives and works in Tokyo

    Selected Activities

    2008 Group Exhibition, Chashing for the Cobalt Blue, ZENSHI, Tokyo Group Exhibition, ZENIN-TEN, MAGICROOM?, Tokyo LIVE Painting