John Hurrell – 14 March, 2011
Nakajima's Tao Installation, 2011, with its display of smashed and pierced computor tubes, e-waste ‘punished' during the opening night performance, seems two-faced in view of St Paul St's conventional emailed promotion of the exhibition. It might have been an interesting (pointed but futile) gesture to use alternatives.
Auckland Arts Festival
Ko Nakajima and Kentaro Taki
Curated by Phil Dadson
1 March 2011 - 25 March 2011
This exhibition of work by two visiting Japanese performance and video artists has been coordinated with their public workshops and performances. Ko Nakajima (b.1941) is a seminal pioneer in the development of Japanese video and Kentaro Taki (b.1973) a much younger investigator of communications media and its cultural consequences. One has an interest in nature and the landscape, the other a preoccupation with sign and symbol and urban imagery.
You can see their distinctive individual approaches in the installations within the two St Paul Galleries, even though they share both spaces and invite confusion. Many of Nakajima’s videos incorporate geometric computer graphics (something he helped popularise) which hover in space and fly around filmed objects. Taki’s on the other hand often play off oddly witty juxtapositions, such as filmed cars drawing out pictograph shapes on the landscape, or living human body parts twisting and turning in stacked up boxes - to be then replaced by living animals or plants.
Taki’s most successful work in my view is a two channel projection onto an assortment of broken computer chassis, broken monitors, scanners and a fan, stuff projecting out from two walls in a corner. Bild: Mull #7 - he para 2011 has fifteen surfaces onto which flickering coloured moving images rapidly come and go, and the effect is mesmerising. It is semi-graspable. You are not sure what you are looking at, and projections change about quickly, keeping the walls seethingly vibrant and alive.
Although Nakajima has lots of dried trees tied around columns transforming one space, and branches in another framing an assortment of drawings and lithographs, his best work is not connected to landscape at all, but an unadorned video. It documents key events in his life from the seventies such as the death and cremation of his mother, Motuko. At the same time on an adjacent screen, we see the birth and growth of his daughter Tamaji.
I liked the lo-tech simplicity of this unassuming but intense black and white video, that despite it looking dated, is much preferable to his large tree-loaded installation in Gallery One. This with its display of smashed and pierced computor tubes, e-waste ‘punished’ during the opening night performance, seems two-faced in view of St Paul St’s conventional emailed promotion of the exhibition. It might have been an interesting (pointed but futile) gesture to use alternatives.
The My Life 1976-86 video, with its emotional immediacy and (I think) more apparent honesty, may be an influence on the very famous Nantes Triptych (1992) by Bill Viola, another video featuring simultaneous births and deaths. It and Taki’s Bild: Mull #7 are the highlights of the exhibition.