The Global Art Project

Participating artist in Art Through the Eye of the Needle: Mariko Mori

With Kumano, 1998, Mariko Mori poses as an otherworldly goddess floating effortlessly in the mist of a shaded forest. In an imagined Shangri-La, respect for Japanese tradition and nature is coupled with her fascination for the future and technological wizardry. The fashion codes of a traditional past are married with the digital codes of the new century. Whether she dances a slow spiritual dance, floats like an angel, or performs a futuristic tea ceremony, she captures our full and undivided attention. She casts the spell of a true artist, drawing us into her make-believe world where symbols of the past and the future, East and West, are brought together in a dreamlike utopian environment. In contrast to her earlier fashion photographs, which referred specifically to Japanese culture, Kumano relates to an entirely imaginary world not tied to any social structures. It conveys Mariko Mori’s belief in the interconnectivity of all things in the universe. It is a sort of cyber-spiritual environment where image is everything and fashion plays a transformative role. Mariko Mori can play the role of either vacuous cyber-chick or spiritual goddess, without bursting the bubble of her celluloid existence. From her early teen-world portraits to the world of hyper-reality, from comic figure to diva, she directs our attention at image. Whether she appears in Tang Dynasty robes amongst an array of cutesy Pokémon-like figures, or whether she presents herself as teenybopper fashion addict, she always does it with humor and reflection. 

Particiipating Artist in Art Through the Eye of the Needle : Sutapa Biswas

To Kill Two Birds With  One Stone, 2000, is an ongoing collaborative, performance work related to fashion, the body, and the condition of displacement. It is a work whose title suggests an array of issues, subjects and solutions. Using the sari, the common garment for women in India, Biswas has invented a work that acts as a catalyst for both audience and collaborators to unravel histories and contemplate the future. The sari is used as a garment that speaks foremost about the female body and a sign for diversity and change in contemporary society anywhere.

  

Neatly folded and placed in rows on the floor of the gallery, one sari for every letter of the alphabet, their colors and patterns establish a space in the room, framing a site of difference, an arena around which an audience gathers. Most of the saris have been borrowed from local women. Each lender has been asked to write something on a tag about her sari, which is attached to the sari. Their contents are also incorporated into a larger narrative that includes recorded conversations from previous

performances. Together they breath life into these inanimate objects by telling personal, national and local histories. The display of tagged saris on the gallery floor resembles a museum display that speaks about classification and identity through ethnography. Yet the content of the display is about contemporary women and their reading of yesterday, today and tomorrow, about their hopes, dreams and desires. The cultural references to an Indian diaspora make the work an open discussion about the here and now, about the never-ending cultural reciprocity in the fashion world and in society. The act of borrowing a sari is not easy, for it is fraught with traditional notions of privacy. The sari is a private and personal item of clothing. There is an intimate relationship between wearer and garment. Offering it for another use is an act of great generosity that displays a willingness to share and transgress the boundary of tradition. 

Shirin Neshat: Beyond Orientalism

Neshat’s first solo exhibition in a European museum features a selection of her hand-painted black and white photographs shown along with the video installations Shadow Under the Web and TurbulentShadow Under the Web, 1997 is a seminal work that signals a shift  from photography to video, and the use of sound as a dramatic element within the whole. With Turbulent, Neshat makes music or sound the medium that gives the work its high political charge. The tonality, modality and volume of the voice define identity and gender.

Catalogue with texts by Neery Melkonian and Selene Wendt.