Taro Izumi. Cloud (goodbye), 2020 Installation view «Taro Izumi. ex»; Pencils, pencil dust, eraser dust, wooden tracks, video © 2020, Museum Tinguely; photo: Gina Folly

Taro Izumi. ex
Museum Tinguely, 2 September – 15 November 2020

Our large autumn exhibition offers an immersion in the quirky, mischief-filled world of Japanese artist Taro Izumi (b. 1976, Nara). Izumi has created a unique creative universe, an organic ecosystem that does not fit into any established artistic category. It closely intermingles sculpture, installation, performance and video: a sculpture becomes an installation, which is in turn made into the scenery for a performance, which itself reappears on the multiple screens that populate his exhibitions. Likewise, materials such as wood, textiles, plants, fur, furniture and all kinds of recycled items are interconnected in structures that look like they have been cobbled together, but were nevertheless precisely assembled, the result of not only high technology and long-term reflection, but also spontaneous energy and a certain immediacy.

 

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Taro Izumi manipulates opposites. He uses absurdity, chance, accidents and humour as constitutive elements of his work. The journey he has imagined for Museum Tinguely is scattered with mirages and optical illusions: a theatre where the public has vanished, sculptures that imitate acrobatic positions and robotic vacuum cleaners suspended in space. Izumi creates antagonistic and often surrealistic object pairings, the meaning of which often remains a mystery. Together, these objects root themselves in the absurdities of our everyday life to recount to us the gentle chaos of today’s world. Also reflecting on the unprecedented situation the world is presently experiencing, Taro Izumi explores the space in between presence and absence, inside and outside, while inviting the viewers to enter his imaginary world.


 

Taro Izumi, Tickled in a dream … maybe? (The cloud fell), 2017; Installationsansicht «Taro Izumi. ex»; Mischtechnik © 2020, Museum Tinguely; Foto: Gina Folly

Taro Izumi, Tickled in a dream … maybe? (The cloud fell), 2017; Installationsansicht «Taro Izumi. ex»; Mischtechnik © 2020, Museum Tinguely; Foto: Gina Folly

 

 

The series Tickled in a dream … maybe? is emblematic of the absurd and mischievous spirit that runs through Taro Izumi’s work. With this series intermixing sculptures and videos, the artist invents structures made up of everyday items – chairs, tables, stools, cushions –capable of reproducing and accommodating the position of a body in motion. It is based on photographs of athletes – mainly football players – captured in the middle of an acrobatic leap.

Between furniture and prosthesis, plinth and sculpture, these structures that look cobbled together and assume a wide variety of forms bear a certain resemblance – both formally and conceptually – to the interactive works of Jean Tinguely with their roguish DIY spirit. Taro Izumi attempts to capture what cannot be captured: movement, time and gravity.

Cloud (pillow / raised-floor storehouse), 2020

For this piece, Taro Izumi begins from the observation that theatres worldwide have been greatly affected by the restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. These sites of performing arts and large public gatherings are the cultural places most affected by the new norms: forced into inactivity, they can neither welcome their audiences nor present their shows. Izumi has recorded the silence to which they are condemned, and now offers it to us to hear. By collecting the sounds of a multitude of empty theatres around the world, Izumi has created a sound installation made up of white noises. Vibrating in unison, these silences captured at the heart of places usually dedicated to music and speech become tangible yet minute signs of the existence of these places. The emptiness that becomes noise, the absence that becomes music, recalls John Cage’s famous 4’33 (1952), a work in which silence becomes sound material.

Rhythmically distributed throughout the exhibition, visitors encounter 16 billiard balls in 16 different colours. However, the colourfulness and cheerfulness of these tiny objects are deceptive. The balls will not roll away, and will not move. They are trapped, protected or locked up in narrow acrylic boxes. They reflect the feeling of being cut off from the world by a transparent window, of being able to see everything and yet remaining immobile—a feeling that a substantial part of humanity has experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The estrangement that is so typical of Taro Izumi’s work is accompanied by an extremely sensual title: licking the air. The fear associated with the global pandemic is in the air; saliva and the sense of touch are dangerous and frowned upon. The ball would be only too happy
to get some fresh air.

Taro Izumi, Cloud (licking the air), 2020; Installation view «Taro Izumi. ex»; Billiard balls, acrylic boxes © 2020, Museum Tinguely; photo: Gina Folly

Taro Izumi, Cloud (licking the air), 2020; Installation view «Taro Izumi. ex»; Billiard balls, acrylic boxes © 2020, Museum Tinguely; photo: Gina Folly