六本木の日本社会のディストピア・シナリオ：「セックスワーカー」ブブ・ド・ラ・マドレーヌ (@Ota Fine Arts) と「アートワーカー」チン↑ポム エリイ (@森美術館) Japan’s Society - Dystopian Scenario in Roppongi: "Sex Worker" BuBu de la Madelaine (@ Ota Fine Arts) And "Art Worker" Chim↑Pom Ellie (@ Mori Art Museum)
In one week starts the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. We are all very excited, anxious, disillusioned…, as we are living in precarious times: Corona and the Russian invasion into Ukraine make our children experience the dark sides of human beings. I repeat, it’s not about our generation. It’s about our future generations, which will ask you and me, why this kind of invasion was still possible, despite all the war tragedies we had already endured. The Berlin Wall, the Korean Peninsula… are just two examples in our recent personal geo-political memories.
See my books “Berlin – A Winter’s Tale After The Wall” (text by Wim Wenders) and “Korea – Divided Land”.
For this edition of the Biennale, the Japan Foundation’s Advisory Committee on International Art Exhibitions had selected “Dumb Type” as the exhibiting artists for the Japan Pavilion.
“Mirrors on four stands rotate at high speed, reflecting lasers trained on them to project text onto the surrounding walls. The projected texts are all taken from an 1850s geography textbook, posing simple yet universal questions. The sounds of voices reading the texts are emitted from rotating parametric speakers, becoming highly directional beams of sound that travel around the room. In contrast to the discourses that surround it, the center of the room is an empty space—a place that exists nowhere, but at the same time a place that could be anywhere. We live in a time of post truth and liminal spaces. The center is void.”
Formed in Kyoto in 1984, Dumb Type is a pioneering Japanese art collective, composed of artists working in various different fields including visual arts, video, computer programming, design, music, and dance. Without a designated director, the group’s creative practice is based on flat, fluid, non-hierarchic collaborations that entail participating members to change according to each project. Engaging with a wide range of issues such as gender, race, AIDS, life and death, memory, and information society with an acute sense of criticism, they have presented various performances, installations, as well as stage works and exhibitions, incorporating video works in museum and theaters both in Japan and overseas. Myself saw several performances in Berlin and Tokyo. At one of these occasions I met Dumb Type member BuBu de la Madelaine. She had just completed her BA in Concept and Media Planning at Kyoto City University of Arts. BuBu joined the artists collective Dumb Type, where she appeared in the famous performance “S/N” (1994-96). After “S/N”, she started to work as a solo artist and collaboratively, producing performances, moving images and writing. At the same time, she committed herself to advocacy for people living with HIV and AIDS, sex workers, sexual minorities a.o.
Why can I emphasise that pioneering BuBu de la Madelaine can be regarded as one of the most important artists in Japan? For shaping Japanese art history?
Because in the 90’s and as an early member of the artists collective Dumb Type (which is representing Japan at the Venice Biennale 2022) she proclaimed herself being simultaneously an “art worker” and a “sex worker”.
This important fact, artistic practice, has been ignored by Japanese art historians.
In this context I may hereby question the attitude of the curatorial team of the Mori Art Museum, which is responsible for the title of the Chim↑Pom exhibition titled: “Chim↑Pom: Happy Spring. Celebrating Japan’s Most Radical Artist Collective in Their Largest Retrospective”.
First, I have no idea how we can celebrate in this stressful spring 2022 the ongoing Corona tragedies (unfortunately, plus the Russian invasion into Ukraine).
Only a few visitors could be seen yesterday in the exhibition, despite Chim↑Pom’s Ellie appearance on the cover of the magazine AERA. See: エリイちゃん Ellie
Second, I find it pretentious from the Mori Art Museum to proclaim Chim↑Pom (see below) as “Japan’s Most Radical Artist Collective”. In this ambiguous statement the interpretation could bring us into misleading conclusions.
Why is it necessary to emphasise “Japan’s”? It involves categorising Chim↑Pom
into a nationalistic, conservative context. Compare the curators’ philosophies at the coming Kassel’s Documenta 2022. https://universes.art/en/documenta/2022/artists
If we’re talking about “artist collective”, Dumb Type is Japan’s most radical artist collective.
If we would focus on artistic practices in general, for example, myself had been “Widely recognized as the most challenging and provocative artist of his generation in Japan.” https://marioa.com/biography/
(2004年：美術批評家 市原研太郎 「マリオ・A 永久革命家としての日本のアーティスト」）
One more reason why I admire and highly respect BuBu de la Madelaine relates to her collaboration with strong feminist artist SHIMADA Yoshiko 嶋田美子, which culminated in the influential, art historical masterpiece “Made in Occupied Japan” (1997).
Popular and progressive SHIMADA Yoshiko actually had been invited by art dealer KIBUKAWA Ei 癸生川 栄 for the provocative exhibition “Cherry blossom party” 桜を見る会, which is directly related to the corrupt, extreme right wing politician and former Prime Minister ABE Shinzo 安倍晋三 and his wife Akie 安倍昭恵.
end of up-date.
See the attached picture from Ota Fine Arts, where Shimada pays tribute to divergent historical artistic practices: “Homage to Chupiren & MATSUZAWA Yutaka” 「中ピ連 & 松澤宥へのオーマジュ」. Check it out!
桜を見る会 Cherry Blossom Party
Chikako Isshiki, Okamoto Mitsuhiro, Ryoko Kimura, Keiko Sakamoto, Yoshiko Shimada, Rika Nakashima and Takahiro Wada
The actual show “A Mermaid’s Territory – Flags and Internal Organs” by BuBu de la Madelaine at Ota Fine Arts manifests her strong will to share her personal experiences with the world.
In contrast, in comparison to Chim↑Pom (which is always trying hard to find an interesting theme to execute) BuBu’s feelings are being sincerely reflected through her works. Nothing staged or cramped like Chim↑Pom art workers’ attitudes. This time she shared her experience of having removed her ovaries and uterus because she had cysts and fibroids. Nothing sensational per se, – she explains us that the body can be reborn anew from the inside. That her feelings and senses didn’t change at all.
More important, BuBu already in the 2010’s became aware of the boundary between her own body and those of the others through her everyday life as a sex worker. This was amplified by her experience as a domestic care giver for a family member. The initial transgression of an individual’s physical body, the trespass of a personal boundary, can be defined as the moment of “touching or being touched.” There are two ways for that to happen: as an expression of friendliness and care, or as the desire to conquer and attack. These trespasses are repeated on a larger scale at the borders of the national territories, against ethnic groups, genders, and sexualities, and we continue to be bombarded by these assaults on our daily lives. BuBu has come to think that “water,” which is a den and a territory of a mermaid, can function as a metaphor for the world in which women and the other minorities who have been deprived of social power on the land can live. (courtesy Ota Fine Arts’ website)
Let’s listen to BuBu’s words:
The mermaid’s flags are
Lamentations for the dead.
The symbols of disobedience.
They celebrate the emancipation from the earthly restraints.
Besides these actual exhibitions, BuBu shares her important, personal experiences as a former member of Dumb Type with the global audience via Zoom, too. I hereby strongly recommend to watch “LIFE WITH VIRUS: Teiji Furuhashi in New York”, transmitted last year during Corona’s peak time.
Quote: “For our International Curatorial Residency with Japanese curator Sho Akita, Visual AIDS presented an online conversation about the work and activism of Japanese artist FURUHASHI Teiji 古橋悌二 (1960–1995), a founding member of the performance collective Dumb Type and an outspoken AIDS activist in Japan.”
BuBu de la Madelaine
“A Mermaid’s Territory – Flags and Internal Organs”
Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo
〒106-0032 東京都港区六本木6-6-9 ピラミデビル 3F
106-0032 Tokyo, Minato City,
Roppongi, 6 Chome−6−9 Pyramide Building 3F
Now let’s talk about my charming, ex-girlfriend Ellie.
up-date, 2022/4/23 Instagram by Akie Abe. 安倍昭恵、チンポ エリイ、安倍晋三
Ellie with extreme right wing politician and former PM, ABE Shinzo (LDP) at the entrance of the Mori Art Museum show.
This weird encounter means: Fuck you, Ellie! Chim↑Pom is out!
end of up-date
Ellie loves Paris Hilton, with all the glitter & glamour.
Ellie loves Walt Disney World, too, with all the pseudo-Western cinderella stories.
Ellie lives a fictional character, stages a sexy blondie in Japan.
This kawaii, fictional character wanted to become famous and beloved in the Japanese art world, hence her narrative had to be strictly controlled, check it out:
Personal Facebook page: deleted.
Other personal Facebook page: abandoned.
Personal Wikipedia page: non-existent.
Age and real name: officially unknown.
Wedding photographs and texts, being published by the Japanese media: later censured.
So you think, we, the Japanese art world, should have fun and being amazed… on the contrary, the censorship by her is NOT funny at all. Capisci?
See magazine “numero” regarding her wedding (2014/1/25).
Without hesitation I may state, that yesterday’s visit to the Mori Art Museum cemented Ellie’s yearning of being in the center of attention. All the other 5 members of Chim↑Pom, more or less, disappeared. The ordinary viewer will remember “Chim↑Pom @ Mori in 2022” as a one-woman-show.
I’m hereby sending to all the members my sincerest congrats, and am very happy to see their successful career prospering. Also we should applaud the Mori Art Museum for taking the risk in installing such an “anti-“aesthetic exhibition. The asphalt concept thing reminds me of John Bock’s manoeuvre, who exhibited several years ago in Tokyo. Or Gregor Schneider’s “Haus ur” at the Venice Biennale 2001.
“Underground”-Tokyo as captured by Chim↑Pom unfortunately lacks the dark S/M side… a quite common sexual practice amongst us Tokyoties. Or the popular “Underworld”, “Maid” 冥土 (Meido) aspect from Akiba-Tokyo.
But hey, these young guys may develop later into some weird creatures, like me. You never know, time will tell.
Let’s quote Edan Corkill, who wrote in the magazine FRIEZE:
“Or: this ‘bunch of pricks’ might just save Japanese contemporary art!
OK, I take that last one back. A literal translation of ‘Chim ↑ Pom’, the name of a six-person artist group whose third ‘solo’ exhibition in Tokyo in as many months is now at Mujin-to Production, probably wouldn’t be as coarse as that. Penis, perhaps, or something more cute, maybe – like pecker or willy. The point is that in a local art scene long verging on the ‘yawn’ side of staid, even that’s enough to make these guys sound immediately fresh.”
In this sense, please read the name Ellie Chim↑Pom as “Ellie Penis” (チン↑ポム Chin-Pom, チンポ Chinpo, ちんこ Chinko, ちんちんかも Chin-chin-kamo etc.). It reminds me of one of her first performances in the Department Store Mitsukoshi, Ginza. The lady at the information counter had to call out for “Mr. / Mrs. Penis”. One of the best performances by 可愛いチンポ エリイ cute Penis Ellie, – not shown in the Mori Art Museum.
Before the formation of the group Chim↑Pom (2005) I attended the DJ-performances by USHIRO Ryuta 卯城竜太 & HAYASHI Yasutaka 林靖高 at my former Mizuma Art Gallery in Meguro. Later, art buddy AIDA Makoto 会田誠 organised at his home the spectacular “Nishi-Ogi-Biennale” 西荻ビエンナーレ, while seriously introducing Ellie-chan (who exhibited some pinky, girlie stuff) as his official mistress 妾 (mekake), in front of his wife, artist OKADA Hiroko 岡田裕子. Who, to make things more complicated, is one of my former wives, lol. See and check her magnificent body of work “Love and Hate Lunch Box” 「愛憎弁当」.
Recapitulating, no-one thought about building up an artist career. Nevertheless, the best works by Chim↑Pom had been created around those funny times.
In the Mori show I do miss several splendid works created by MIZUNO Toshinori 水野俊紀.
Exciting works, like the CP-work inside PARCO, @ Yamamoto Gendai, @ Mujin-to in Koenji are not in the show. A curatorial dissonance.
Check this link!
東京のANOMALYがオープン！ Tokyo’s ANOMALY is open!
During that period, a new fresh wind by this anti-academia, guerrilla art group blew at the right moment through the established art scene. Myself told the members not to hesitate to create so-called “failed works” 失敗作品, as they are necessary to get the feeling of being fearless and bold. Important for one’s development as an art worker.
In the meantime I became one of their collectors and writing endless reviews about their exhibitions. Unfortunately those articles can’t be read anymore because of the disappearance of the ARTiT Official Blog-website.
However, here on ART+CULTURE you may get some actual informations about Chim↑Pom, too. Check this one out!
東京アートシーンの中心、MUJIN-TO / FUJIKI Rikaに所属しているChim↑Pom @ 歌舞伎町
Tokyo’s art scene, MUJIN-TO / FUJIKI Rika’s artist group Chim↑Pom @ KABUKICHO
Actual running show:
Chim↑Pom展：Happy Spring ハッピースプリング
Mori Art Museum 森美術館
Roppongi Hills Mori Tower
6 Chome-10-1 Roppongi
Minato City, Tokyo 106-0032
From MAM’s website, quote:
PR text, quote:
Equipped with highly original ideas and impressive energy, artist collective Chim↑Pom has undertaken numerous projects intervening in society in ways that constantly confound our expectations. With themes ranging from cities and consumerism to gluttony and poverty, Japanese society, the atomic bomb, earthquakes, images of stardom, the mass media, borders, and the nature of publicness, their works serve as powerful statements on a plethora of phenomena and challenges in modern society, delivered mostly with a healthy dose of humor or irony.
As of April 19th 2022 the group announced that it will have a new name:
「Chim↑Pom from Smappa!Group」.
An English press release plus the feedback from the Mori Art Museum are missing. A highly complicated matter. Check the link to BT.
森美術館の対応に異議。Chim↑Pomが「Chim↑Pom from Smappa!Group」へと改名
With the actual informations I can only write the following comment on 2022/4/23 on T.Y.’s FBpage:
“Unfortunately, the Mori Art Museum didn’t yet respond. Probably the MAM lawyers are still evaluating. The more discourses are going on, the better. Necessary in the Japanese contemporary art world.
The Mori show is lame, as it looks like a One-Woman-Show.
“We” endorsed ChimPom at the beginning because of their blunt, refreshing, anti-academic, youngster’s works. Also we loved AIDA Makoto and his organised Nishi-Ogi-Biennale.
“We” applauded, made ChimPom popular because their spirit was funny, provocative and bold.
Several, exciting works, like the CP-work inside PARCO, @ Yamamoto Gendai, @ Mujin-to in Koenji or by MIZUNO Toshinori 水野俊紀 are not in the show. A curatorial dissonance. Everything is focused on Ellie.
Ellie’s husband holds hostage of ChimPom; in the meantime, Chim Pom became a boring art worker’s group. If a representative of the “Japanese sex-industry”, in this case Ellie’s husband, should sit at the same table of the Mori Art Museum dinner party, together with other honorable people from the corrupt “Japanese general contractor” world, is not my problem. The move by SMAPPA elevates this thing into the gossip-media-TV-wide-show context. One more example, how the entertainment sector (art workers) becomes a manipulating tool, is being used for capitalistic-oriented business companies, like XY, ZG, VO, and so on.”
Compare with strong, feminism-related…
Contemporary Art Star NAGASHIMA Yurie @ MAHO KUBOTA GALLERY
現代美術のスター 長島有里枝 @ MAHO KUBOTA GALLERY
(Picture on the right: “Self-Portrait（Full-Figured, Yet Not Full-Term）” 2001, Collection of the TOP MUSEUM (Tokyo Photographic Art Museum) 東京都写真美術館蔵)
Comparison, same topics but different approach:
Exhibited at Art Fair Tokyo and gallery AOYAMA MEGURO, 6 years ago:
Check it out:
亜 真里男「東京への風 (ヒロシマ・ナガサキ・フクシマ)」2016年
Mario A “The Wind towards Tokyo (Hiroshima – Nagasaki – Fukushima)” 2016
Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial-NoDerivative Works
photos: cccs courtesy creative common sense