思想＋方法、一流アーティスト岡田裕子の尊敬するナラティブ進展 「ダブル・フューチャー」 Thought + Method, Leading Artist OKADA Hiroko's Narrative of Progress "DOUBLE FUTURE" Earns Our Respect
OKADA Hiroko’s 岡田裕子 voice and vision have been powerful forces in Japanese contemporary art for over two decades. Her multi-layered, eclectic art practice embodies the self in the now, always keeping in mind that art can also function as a critique of contemporary society and one’s own personal family history, unconsciously going 30-50, or more, years back.
Most of her works had been executed from personal experiences like “My Song” (1998) and “SINGIN’ IN THE PAIN” (2004), therefore the contemplating art-insider, with mucho gusto, receives astonishing revelations, which enforces her future status in obtaining an important place in the history of Japanese art.
Besides her popular and unique approach via performative practice intermingled with highly satirical (nota bene: rarely seen or understood in Japan), provoking content (see “AIZOU BENTO – Love and Hate Lunch Box” 2007, “RESTAURANT NO DRESS CODE” 2013 or “EXERCISES” 2014), Okada’s transformative self-vulnerability earns our deepest respect, too, – being contextualized via “Miss O’s Face” (1995) and the amazing “Dusky Room” (2009). Said that, her cutting-edge, structure-related works require a more complex and intellectually demanding interaction from the viewer.
This is actually the case in the running exhibition at Mizuma Art Gallery, named “DOUBLE FUTURE”. Keeping serious stem cell research results in mind, Okada’s new work “Engaged Body” touches the highly controversial topic about bioethics. Her artistic, semi-fictional approach explores superbly the latest standards in regenerative medicine and organ transplantation, in which the viewer, depending on her/his religious and socio-political context (“West-East”; bioethics in China, Japan, US, France, Germany, Switzerland etc.) doesn’t feel very comfortable. That means, the artist succeeded.
On top of that, during the vernissage we marveled at the chic, golden jewelry for sale, without knowing first that Okada’s body had been scanned via MRI technology and the 3D data had been used to recreate her organs as jewelry using traditional Japanese gold leaf technique. Beautifully weird, chapeau!
Connected with the above mentioned stem cell research, Okada’s popular work “The Delivery by Male Project” 2002 / 2019 experienced a revised version. In this context, we wonder how 17 years ago the artist succeeded in visualizing, via the case study of a “pregnant man”, a not-so-fictional narrative for the future. Additionally, Okada’s work implies an educational effect. We learn that human superdonors grow organs for people, semen and egg can be created using iPS cells therefore a surrogate mother can receive an insemination of your semen, or, in Japanese law, since men can’t become “mothers” in the family register, a man would have to adopt his own child, even if he birthed the child.
Art and emancipation (on both, women’s and men’s side (and all others)) and the “social role” of an artist.
Okada Hiroko’s works excellently function as an artistic critique towards Japanese society, where human relationship, mother-father-children relationship, seen from the “outside”, still show signs of behavioural disorder.
As most of her works refer to universal values and ethics (partnership, marriage, childbirth and – rearing, aging, death), the local (= Japan) socio-ethnological aspect becomes concrete form, too.
Okada tells us: it’s high time to awake out of sleep. “Showa is over”. “Heisei is over”.
Our sympathy towards Okada Hiroko’s practice comes partly from her genius-like gift of being able to blend serious socio-humanistic topics with well done research, humor, grace and strict artistic concept.
Additionally, we notice how she embodies experimental and surprising (theatrical) happenings into the final execution, therefore letting the viewers experience marvelous magic in art.
Tokyo, 29th of July 2019
OKADA Hiroko “DOUBLE FUTURE” @ Mizuma Art Gallery
10 July – 10 August 2019
Closed on Sunday, Monday and National Holidays
162-0843 東京都新宿区市谷田町3-13 神楽ビル2F
Kagura Bldg. 2F, 3-13 Ichigaya Tamachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-0843
Strongly recommending OKADA Hiroko’s new artist book, spanning the whole career, texts are in Japanese and English language.
“DOUBLE FUTURE: Engaged Body / The Delivery by Male Project”
Press Release by the gallery:
Mizuma Art Gallery presents a solo exhibition by OKADA Hiroko, entitled “DOUBLE FUTURE” beginning on Wednesday, 10th July.
The artworks on display for this exhibition feature Okada’s latest series “Engaged Body,” and “The Delivery by Male Project” made in 2002 (revised version for 2019).
“Engaged Body” was presented at Yebisu International Festival for Art & Alternative Visions, February of this year, receiving very favorable reviews. Since then, the work has been selected by Ars Electronica Center in Linz, Austria for a one year permanent display in their exhibition, and garnered attention in both domestic and abroad. For this exhibition, precious original drawings and new two-dimensional work are revitalized into the installation.
Set in a fictional future, Japan’s regenerative medicine continues to advance, to where people are able to use cellular differentiation to create all types of organs from a single cell line, and then donate them to others. From all of this, a culture arises where, as commemoration of the relationship between donor and recipient, a part of the regenerated organ is scanned, turned into jewelry and sent as a gift – “Engaged Body” is that sort of fictitious story taking place in the future. While the donor and recipient aren’t able to know each other’s names, they instead send and receive the “Engaged Body Jewelry” as a proof of pledge in establishing a physical relation.
Featuring at the same time, is a video work made seventeen years ago entitled “The Delivery by Male Project” which again portrays a fictional near future where “Men can conceive and give birth.” It follows a pregnant man identified as “S.K.” who feels burdened in having meaningful conversations with others, who doesn’t want a girlfriend, and who also doesn’t want to be married, but eagerly wishes that he had his own child. All things that relate to pregnancy and childbirth for Japanese women, a general lack of understanding towards mothers’ ways of life in society, the attendant joys and stresses of raising children, and the problem of a declining birthrate; many of these things that Okada noticed through her own experience of pregnancy and delivery, are what became the driving force for her future production. In this setting – where males have the ability to conceive and deliver a child, through advanced medical treatments, it develops beyond the differences in gender, and give the viewers a much broader and multifaceted perspective. Since the presentation at Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art in 2002, this video work has been displayed in multitude of group exhibition shows such as in Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo in 2005, and Brooklyn Museum in New York in 2007. For this exhibition, an original background music was created , presenting this revised version for the very first time.
While these two works together both depict the fictional futures, they also simultaneously act as mirrors reflecting our present reality. Viewing them, one can glean the way in which advanced medical treatments have changed over the last seventeen years. On the other hand, they also reveal the persistence of certain problems facing human society, such as discrimination, economic disparities, and poor living conditions. The real future should be full of choices, and it’s up to us to make these. It will be a pleasure if this exhibition “DOUBLE FUTURE” can be appreciated by as many people as possible.
『DOUBLE FUTURE— エンゲージド・ボディ/ 俺の産んだ子』定価：1,800円（税別）
(former review from August 2nd, 2012)
魅力的岡田裕子 aka Josephine Beuys
Fascinating OKADA Hiroko aka Josephine Beuys