Tabaimo @ James Cohan Gallery, New York

BLOW (Film Still), 2009

James Cohan Gallery will present DANDAN, a solo exhibition by Japanese artist Tabaimo opening September 15th and running through October 29th. This is the third solo exhibition at the gallery by the 35-year old Japanese artist, who is becoming well-known for her hand-drawn animations whose coloration bring to mind traditional ukiyo-e prints.

Currently, Tabaimo is representing Japan at the 54th Biennale di Venezia with the work teleco-soup, an immersive multi-media environment that transforms the Japanese Pavilion into the interior of a well, where the reflected world is inverted and boundaries between water and sky, self and world, real and imagined are fluid.

teleco-soup's installation at the Biennale

still image

Taking on both the role as social critic and voice of those born in the mid 1970’s, Tabaimo strives to understand the space between the generations. As globalization has reached the island nation that once prided itself on its isolationism, the traditional communal life is breaking down and the contemporary desire towards individualization is taking over.

Tabaimo’s work offers an unblinking look at contemporary Japanese society as a mirror in which to view herself and the other members of her generation caught in the crossfire of these societal shifts. Her works capture the anxiety that is a constant reality in a land whose terra firma is less than stable, while their tone remains abstract and detached. Recurring motifs including cityscapes, interior spaces, hands, brains, hair, insects, plants and water hover between the elegantly rendered and the disturbingly surreal.

Two of the works on view at James Cohan Gallery BLOW and danDAN were first shown in Tabaimo: Danmen, a solo exhibition that originated at the Yokohama Museum of Art in 2009 and travelled to the National Museum of Art, Osaka. These two works are multi-channel video and sound installations presented on elaborately built stage sets. In addition, the exhibition features guignorama which is a single-channel work first exhibited in the artist’s solo exhibition at the Hara Museum in 2006. This gallery exhibition marks the first time these works are shown in the United States.
BLOW, 2009
video installation

The central work in the main gallery, BLOW, 2009, depicts a watery world projected onto a curved, half-pipe ramp. The viewer is invited to walk through the seamless, multi-channel projection that moves across this bowl-shaped cross-section, in which human bones, organs and blood vessels emerge from a watery world and transform into flower blossoms that recall the origins of life emerging from the primordial soup.

In Gallery 3, danDAN, 2009, is a work projected onto three angled panels that run vertically from floor to ceiling to create a deep perspective. It portrays the interior space of a housing complex of multiple dwelling units with a cut-away view into different apartments—the viewer peers into traditionally-styled apartments with tatami mats sharing walls with apartments with more modernized conveniences. In these spaces, strange events happen: birds fly inside rooms, a woman spins in a washing machine, a man walks into a refrigerator, the peck of a bird’s beak causes blood to flow from of a bed, and clothes turn into birds and fly away.

danDAN, 2009
video installatio

In the front gallery, guignorama, 2006, is a single channel work projected on a wall where blue-veined hands grasp, grapple and lock together in an ever-moving diorama—the pulsating blood vessels creating an emotionally fraught landscape. The artist has suffered from severe eczema and as a result, the recurring motifs of hands and skin have come to represent the boundary between interior and exterior worlds—individual and communal, self and society.

guignorama, 2006
Video installation