ShugoArts is proud to present an exhibition of new photographic and video art by MORIMURA Yasumasa, entitled “Twilight of the Turbulent Gods / A Requiem: Chapter 2” Following on from the popular Chapter 1 exhibition, which was held late last year, Chapter 2 continues the artist’s critical examination of the question, “What did the 20th Century mean?” The exhibition will feature a total of 16 works, including 6 large photographs, two videos and other, smaller works. It will be held at ShugoArts and also at the neighboring alternative space, MAGIC ROOM? which is kindly supporting the exhibition.
Morimura’s new works spring from his imagining of how famous figures and heroes of the 20th century, such as Lenin and Che Guevara, would respond to the current world if they were alive today. His use of the imagination to evaluate the 20th century and at the same time interpret the 21st, is not simply a harking for, or a criticism of what has gone before. It encourages thinking about the world now, by seeking to understand and, above all, remember the past – it is an essential requiem for the century just ended.
In the past I made works on the theme of movie actresses (my so-called “actress series”). For those I chose to focus, out of all the elements that defined the 20th century, on femininity. I decided that in the 20th century, femininity was most present in its films. It was within films (and, perhaps only within films) that the woman could become the glittering star, the center of the world. I believe that was what it meant to be an “actress.”
So, when you look at the real world, I think it’s true that the main players have been men. And where can you best see masculinity at work? In the realm of “politics” and its close relative, the realm of “war,” or the “realm of turbulence.” For me, the 20th century was the age in which the men made our reality and history, while the women illuminated our worlds of fiction. I believe that only through an examination of both aspects – the reality and the fiction – can the 20th century be comprehended as a whole.
In my actress series I have already explored the theme of “glittering femininity in the world of fiction.” Now, I am looking at the other story, that of “masculinity arising in politics and war.” And, of course if you think about how we get our images of “politics and war,” the answer is in news photographs. Thus, just as I made “film” my theme for examining “femininity,” now I take 20th century news photographs as my theme for examining “masculinity.”
From Yasumasa Morimura’s notes
For this exhibition Morimura’s subjects include Lenin, who died on the eve of realizing his dream of a worker’s society; Hitler, as played by Charlie Chaplin; as well as a host of other men whose fiery spirits thrived in the turbulent century – Che Guevara, Einstein, Trotsky and others. It is as if Morimura, by channeling their spirits today, is rekindling the flames of their passions, which during their lives burned bright but were often fated for early destruction.
Morimura was born in 1951 in Osaka. He began making self-portrait photographs in 1985. His most important works include his “artist masters series,” which he based on masterpieces old and new, and from east and west; his “actress series”; his “An Inner Dialogue with Frida Kahlo” series, about the Mexican artist; and his “Los Nuevos Caprichos,” a contemporary reworking of Goya’s famous “Los Caprichos” prints. In 2007 his solo exhibition, “Bi-Class, Be Quiet,” was held at the Contemporary Art Museum, Kumamoto, and Yokohama Museum of Art, winning favor with both children and adults for its division of the various galleries into school-like classrooms. The works in this exhibition have been shown earlier this year at Venice in the exhibition “A Requiem for the XX Century.” We invite you to enjoy this exhibition – from the artist whose artistic passion knows no bounds.