Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
Daisuke Kosugi, Ishu Han, Maya Watanabe
The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo’s MOT Annual is an exhibition series held since 1999 to introduce the new current of contemporary art in Japan through the work of young artists. MOT Annual 2021: A sea, a living room and a skull will expand its scope and present artists from various cultural backgrounds in order to introduce artistic practices that resonate with one other and reflect on our time experiencing an unprecedented global pandemic.
Numerous social implications of the public health crisis, such as tighter administrative control over individuals and growing stigmas and divisions among people remind us that the body is fundamentally a political domain, constantly entangled with and affected by external forces and entities. The artists introduced in this exhibition, Ishu Han, Daisuke Kosugi, and Maya Watanabe, utilize moving image as their primary medium and capture bodies, or their absence, in specific situations and landscapes in order to explore the negotiation and struggle between an individual and dominant social systems or ideologies.
Ishu Han’s video work documents his seemingly impromptu performances in Aomori Prefecture, where he moved from Shanghai as a child. His solitary gestures and actions made in natural landscapes render visible the ineffable inner experience of being an “other” and his in-between status as someone bound to two nation-states. Daisuke Kosugi presents A False Weight (2019), which depicts the struggle of his father’s disabled body in his domestic space within a standardized architecture, and a new work that delves into how traumatic flashbacks (PTSD) are experienced throughout body. Maya Watanabe has been engaging with the memories and unresolved violence of the internal conflict that seized her country, Peru, in the 1980s and 1990s. Three of her films are presented in this exhibition: Sceneries (2016), Liminal (2019). They capture landscapes and bodies suspended in between the past and present, witnessing the violence that continues to haunt Peruvian society.
These works—produced by engaging with the lives of individuals—grapple with the various forces that penetrate our existence and mediate our conduct, and explore the potential of restoring agency and dignity. Furthermore, the artists’ conceptual pursuit of moving image extends into the installations and the rendering of the viewers’ audiovisual experience, giving insight into how we understand and embody the idea of time and space. Through these artists’ explorations into immediate or distant terrains that contour the conditions of their subjects, the exhibition invites a reflection on what mediates our perspectives and subjecthood in contemporary society.