'Wallpaper', a design magazine published in London, epitomises contemporary
style Ð it is sleek, glossy, commercial, expensive and popular. An exhibition
at the Opera City Art Gallery is like an edition of the magazine made
real. The exhibition brings to the art museum the hot energy of street
culture. JAM: Tokyo-London, includes the work of 43 young artists. Included
are examples of work by architectural groups, musicians, photographers,
graphic and fashion designers, performers as well as painters.
The premise of the show is that by gathering together all this raw talent
from these two fashionable cities a synergy will develop Ð like a 'JAM'
session to borrow the musical equivalent. The reality is more like celebrity
karaoke. And like all karaoke, it sounds good on the night but is somewhat
discordant when a recording is heard the morning after.
First edition of the exhibition appeared at the Barbican Art Gallery in
London from May to July 2001. The Tokyo version is larger with more works.
The Tokyo installation was designed by Deluxe (Klein Dytham Architects,
Namaiki, Nakameguro Yakkyoku, Tokyo Brewing Company) and captures the
essence of Tokyo as a city -- awesome walls of shopping bags separating
Highlighting the exhibition are the photographic works of the Japanese
artists. Among them Masayuki Yoshinaga photographs of the 'bosozoku' (biker
gangs). Yoshinaga has become well known for his series of images documenting
various 'outsider' groups in Japan, such as the young 'kogyaru' girls
of Shibuya and members of the yakuza. His works provide fascinating glimpse
of an insider's view of these gangs. The 'bosozoku' images include group
shots from the streets and also large studio images of single members
and their bikes. They portray these young men with dignity and openness.
Continuing the motoring theme is Masafumi Sanai's series "Ore no Kuruma
(My Car)". This consists of 300 photographs recording a trip between Shinjuku
and Karuizawa in Sanai's beloved yellow Skyline. Woven around these commonplace
images is his prosaic prose about the journey and his life. Its an insightful
yet simple work.
Editor and photographer, Kyoichi Tsuzuki, has through his previous publications
given many of us a view into aspects of Japan less often seen. Tsuzuki
offers through his books "Tokyo Style" a peek into people's apartments
and "Roadside Japan" a look at some curious sites. Continuing the peep
show theme for this exhibition, he exhibits photos of interiors of love
hotels. The images show a reality wilder than the imagination.
Well-known city photographer, Takashi Homma, exhibits "Tokyo New Standard".
This is 160 photographic slides of Tokyo children. A neutral starkness
to the images avoids drowning them in an obvious cuteness.
A few years ago at the age of 20, Yurie Nagashima achieved considerable
attention for her series of photographs of her family naked around their
house. A frankness and confidence in the images make them a compelling
documents. This exhibition includes these and some recent equally forthright
self-portraits of her pregnant.
All the 'hot' artsy people are in this show. The "A" list includes artist
Yoshitomo Nara, author Banana Yoshimoto, camouflage pattern fashion designer
NIGO / A Bathing Ape, "Chappie" the virtual 'tarento' creation of Groovisions,
and 'Gorgerous' (Hiroyuki Matsukage and Muneteru Ujino) the musical performance
duo noted for their phallic instruments.
The publicity information about the show describes the exhibition as 'like
walking through a magazine'. Those in Tokyo can catch this fun and fashionable
edition in the museum until May 6 but are fortunate to see the ongoing
venture daily on the streets.