Blum & Poe is pleased to announce Parergon, a selected survey exhibition of Japanese art of the 1980s and ‘90s, curated by Mika Yoshitake. Focusing on the themes of abject politics, transcending media, performativity, and satire and simulation, this show will present the work of over twenty-five visual artists including Kodai Nakahara, Tatsuo Miyajima, Kazumi Nakamura, Yukie Ishikawa, Tsuyoshi Ozawa, and Yukinori Yanagi in an array of media spanning painting, sculpture, duration performance, noise, video, and photography.
The exhibition title makes reference to the gallery in Tokyo (Gallery Parergon, 1981-1987) that introduced many artists associated with the New Wave phenomenon, its name attributed to Jacques Derrida’s essay from 1978 which questioned the “framework” of art, influential to artists and critics during the period. Parergon brings together some of the most enigmatic works that were first generated during a rich two-decade period that are pivotal to the way we perceive and understand contemporary Japanese art today. In the aftermath of the conceptual reconsideration of the object and relationality spearheaded by Mono-ha in the 1970s, this era opened up new critical engagements with language and medium where artists explored expansions in installation, performance, and experimental multi-genre practices.
When the U.S. and Europe were witnessing a return to Expressionism alongside a postmodern aesthetic of simulacra and deconstruction characterized by the Pictures generation, this zeitgeist of cultural capitalism was instead manifest under Japan’s unique social and geo-political conditions resulting from the rise and burst of the bubble economy. Artists began to explore subversive artistic languages and integrate underground subcultures into their practice using a variety of media, ranging from experimentations in electro-acoustic music, geopolitical and conceptual photography, and appropriations of advertisement culture. Others addressed the internalization of historical avant-garde and modernist aesthetics that were filtered through a new poetics of form, space, and language.
In the post-1989 Hirohito era, politics of gender, nuclear crisis, and critique of nationalism are especially poignant among artists from the Kansai region. This period also witnesses the rise of art collectives in the mid-90s and their darkly humorous performances and conceptual practices that reevaluated the history of Japan’s postwar avant-garde. These events reflect on a subculture generated out of a profoundly unique “infantile capitalism,” anticipating the explosive rise of the Neo-Pop generation.
This exhibition is presented on the occasion of Blum & Poe’s 25-year anniversary. Parergon commemorates a special facet of the gallery’s history rooted in this very timeframe in Japan—with Tim Blum’s early years as an art dealer and curator spent in Tokyo in the early ‘90s—and charts a bridge between the Japanese art historical territories the gallery has long championed. Parergon pursues the creative significance of the years between the milestones of Mono-ha and the Neo-Pop generation now synonymous with Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara.
Parergon will take place in two parts at Blum & Poe Los Angeles as well as partnering institutions, including an exhibition at Nonaka Hill, and performances at various venues including performances by seminal figures of the Japanese noise, sound, and electro-acoustic genres—EYE, SAICOBAB, Keiji Haino, Otomo Yoshihide, and Ryoji Ikeda. A catalogue will be published for the occasion, with artist testimonials and new scholarship by Yoshitake and David Novak, author of Japanoise: Music at the Edge of Circulation (Duke University Press Books, 2013).