On August 6, 2016, Ota Fine Arts opened Motions, a group exhibition by 6 artists from different parts of Asia: China, Hing Kong, Indonesia, Japan and Singapore. The exhibition relooks at the beauty of motion and explores its meaning through diverse visual expressions including video, photography and installation work. A wide range of visual art generates new perspectives to our common knowledge towards the process of change. The exhibition reveals the interconnections between the works of these artists, in spite of their unique executions, prompting the viewer to delve further into the respective concepts of each artwork.
Sound and motion are closely related and exist in our everyday life in the form of speech and body language, as well as in film. Singapore-based Indonesia artist Betty Susiarjo presents her installation work Anemones (2011), where speakers containing glitter are placed on the ground, projecting the sound of waves, akin to the rhythm of life and breathing of the universe. The glitter “jumps” up and down according to the vibrations produced by the sound waves from the speakers: the sound is physicalized and becomes a movement we can see visually. On the one hand, in Hong Kong artist Samson Young’s video work Muted Situations #2: Lion Dance (2014), he creates an unusual setting where the traditional Chinese lion dance is performed without any percussion music. This prompts the realization of how the movements of human beings are inter-linked with our perceptive memory such as specific sounds that are often taken for granted.
Through the use of photography, Singaporean photographer Victor Gui manipulates perception of time and space in his work titled Passing (2015). Gui places a pinhole camera on the dashboard of his car and documents his drives over long exposures of approximately 30 minutes – compressed representations of his journeys, blur yet strikingly vivid. Beijing-based artist Chen Wei’s recent series of work In the Waves (2013) are still images void of sound. This body of work shows young people dancing in a club under spotlights. According to the artist, this reflects the current situation of young people in China: it brings relief and pleasure to be floating in the waves of society, but at the same time it makes them afraid of being washed away.
Motion can be perceived differently depending on how one views it. London-based Japanese artist Hiraki Sawa experiments with this notion of perception. In his video work, Tracking (2010), the entire scenery is presented in inversed monochrome – white birds flap gracefully against the black sky. This work shows the movement of trees from right to left as the birds continue to flap in the middle of the projection, invoking in the viewer an experience of moving in the same direction and speed as the birds. Sawa made his debut with the East International Award, with his work dwelling (2002). The work displayed numerous model airplanes flying around in the room, while monochrome screen images projected unusual events and perspectives of reality. In spotter, tiny people observed airplanes chasing their own shadows while assembling a range of cooking materials in the kitchen. Also in migration, people, horses, camels, and birds conducted a silent parade in the empty house. Later, Sawa created two-channel video works that operated simultaneously, such as murmuring or out of the blue, developing his works to three-channel video works like going places sitting down.
More recently, Sawa attempted to exhibit the room built for his work silk and the projected image in a parallel time. The room made for the artwork was absorbed and it became a metaphor which suggested that the video itself was a kind of ‘micro-room.’ In 2009, he exhibited a video work titled O which was located in a large space with a composition of three big screens, ten monitors, and five rotating speakers. The screen images faced the real room, and it was a sort of tentative attempt to embed the screen image into a structure. Sawa’s recent works explore the possibilities and effects of screen images located in real-life exhibition spaces.
Born in 1977 in Ishikawa, Japan, Hiraki Sawa studied fine art and went on to pursue his MFA in sculpture at Slade School of Fine Art in London. His video work and moving image installations reveal domestic and imaginary spaces that play with the often unexpected textures of memory and artifice. Sawa has participated in the 6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art at the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane (2009), the 17th Biennale of Sydney (2010), the 2011 Chengdu Biennale, and group exhibitions such as Encounter: The Royal Academy in Asia touring the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore and the Middle East Katara Cultural Village in Doha (2012), and Re:Quest – Japanese Contemporary Art Since the 1970’s at the Museum of Art Seoul National University (2013). His solo exhibitions have been held at the National Museum of Victoria, Melbourne (2006), the Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’archéologie de Besançon (2010), and most recently at the Shiseido Gallery, Tokyo (2012).
Physically, motion is also inseparable from the concept of the body. Shanghai-based artist Tang Dixin experiments with the movements of the human body in his performance Mr. Hungry (2015), performed at the Hunter College of Art, New York. In this performance, he established a rule not to touch the floor with his feet – instead, he carries a few books in his hands, throws them across the room, and, using them as stepping stones, makes his way forward. He then retrieves the books and repeats the process of creating a path of books in front of him. With this, the artist explores the movements of the body in relation to space, the environment, and socio-cultural conditions.
Born in 1982, Dixin is an artist working mainly with painting and performance art. He is one of the ’80-hou’ artists, a Chinese term for those who were born during the 1980s and are regarded as relatively liberal. Most of his works are related to the body and its oppression in the Chinese society and art world. Tang’s performance works sometimes show radical aspects while also pursuing relations with others. Act of God (2010) is a performance where Tang jumped off a platform in the metro station during Expo 2010 Shanghai, with a train passing across his body. Documenting the entire process in a video, the act was reported in the news, bringing about a controversial discussion regarding the thin line between the artist’s cynical expression of the contemporary Chinese society and his extreme illegal act. It is one of Tang’s performances expressing the condition of the body in a surveillance society, by challenging the use of the body in unusual ways. While Tang’s performances dynamically and vigorously deal with society and others, his paintings give rather calm and reflective impressions. In his opinion, as he originally received Western art education in China, the medium of painting embodies the simplest relationship between objects while reflecting the complexity caused by his own reality and emotions. His paintings express a “powerless body” which pursues mental freedom and emancipation while it accepts its own limits.
Tang’s performances and paintings reflect and complement each other through the body. While his work focuses on external aspects such as society and the others, or gazes internally as he explores the methodology of painting expression in reflecting his pure inner self and emotions, the exploration of these polarities allows the artist to reflect on multiple aspects of relating in contemporary socieities. Tang’s solo exhibitions include Mr. Hungry (2014), AIKE-DELLACRO, Shanghai, China and Tang Dixin (2014), Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo, Japan. He has also participated in notable group exhibitions such as Absolute Collection Guideline (2015), Sifang Art Museum, Nanjing, China; 10th Gwangju Biennale – Burning Down the House (2014), Gwangju, Korea; Revel – Celebrating MoCA’s 8 Years in Shanghai (2013), Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai, China; or ON | OFF: China’s Young Artists in Concept and Practice (2013), Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China.