Nissan Art Award 2015|Yuko Mouri Interview

日産アートアワード2015|毛利悠子 インタビュー

Published on December 19, 2015 Interview&Text: Taisuke Shimanuki Photo (Portrait): Masamasa Nishino

The Nissan Art Award is an award for contemporary art. The second Grand Prix winner was announced the other day. The winner is Yuko Mouri. Known for her style of setting up mechanical daily necessities in a space and creating networks of inorganic objects using light, sound, and magnetism, she is a notable artist whose field of activity has expanded over the past few years. This time, I had the opportunity to interview him the day after winning the Grand Prix. For an artist, what is the meaning of creating a work, and what is the significance of an award that honors it? We bring you the testimony of an artist named Yuko Mori from the present.

Development from fieldwork

Yuko Mouri “Moremore: Given Falling Water #1–3” 2015 / “Nissan Art Award 2015” exhibition view / Photography: Keizo Kioku

Yuko Mouri “Moremore: Given Falling Water #1–3” 2015 / “Nissan Art Award 2015” exhibition view / Photography: Keizo Kioku

——Congratulations on winning the Nissan Art Award. I would appreciate it if you could give me your comments after receiving the award first.

Mouri : Thank you. I am very happy because I have admired this award since the first time in 2013. The work I submitted was a new challenge for me, so I would have been satisfied even if I didn't win the Grand Prix, but I was honored that it was recognized by the judges.

——Could you tell us about the winning work “Moremore: Falling Water #1-3”? This work evolved from the project ``Moremore Tokyo,'' which researched water leak repair sites inside subway stations in Tokyo.

Mouri : The idea is to further develop the works that were exhibited at the Sapporo International Art Festival and Yokohama Triennale in 2014, which have loose relationships within the exhibition space, and exhibit something stronger and larger. Of course there was. However, this award is a competition stage for new works, and it is not an exhibition with central curation like a museum exhibition, so I would like to use this as an opportunity to try out work that I have never done before. and. Therefore, I decided to develop the direction of ``Moremore Tokyo,'' which I have been conducting fieldwork with since 2009.

--Yesterday, at the press tour before the award ceremony, you explained your work by referring to bricolage, a concept described by social anthropologist Lévi-Strauss. This is a concept and method that refers to collecting scraps and leftover items to create or repair tools on an emergency basis, and is in contrast to, for example, a professional craftsman who creates a product based on a predetermined design plan. is.

Mouri : While continuing to research “Moremore Tokyo,” I discovered a bricolage style of creation in how to deal with water leaks caused by an unspecified number of station employees. Depending on the station, some are crudely constructed, while others are aesthetically conscious in their materials and shapes. They may not think of it as a "work," but I've always thought that it is definitely a "work." Another big opportunity for me was the workshop I held at Asahi Art Square in January of this year (``More-Mole Tokyo: Making Mole-Mole in the Kitchen and Toilet"). We purposely created artificial water leaks in the toilets and kitchen of the venue, and asked the participants to deal with the leaks. Rather than correcting the cause of the water leak, I set my goal as an emergency measure to prevent the surrounding area from getting wet by controlling the route of the water using plastic bags or buckets. In about two hours, I was able to create a truly wonderful piece of work. I was moved by the unintended creativity that emerges when faced with urgent situations.

Photo left | From "Moremore Tokyo" Photo right | "Moremore Tokyo - Practical version of making molemore in the kitchen and toilet" / Venue: Asahi Art Square / Photography: Hideto Maezawa

Photo left | From “Moremore Tokyo”
Photo right|《Molemole Tokyo - Practical version of making molemole in the kitchen and toilet~》 / Venue: Asahi Art Square / Photography: Hideto Maezawa

——Have you sublimated your research and workshop experience into your work this time?

Mouri : That's right. With those two references in hand, I was already confident in the direction of the work, even though I was taking on a new challenge.

--However, according to what I heard, there was a lot of trouble at the production site.

Mori : This time, for my own creation, I first created a water leak situation and proceeded with the production by dealing with it, but the water leaked out so much that the floor of the venue became sticky. I did it! The other finalists brought in works that they had created to some extent in the studio and were adjusting the installation and video projection, but I was just trying to deal with water leaks every day, and I was wondering how long it would take. However, I had no intention of turning it into a work at all (lol). My first goal was to keep the wooden frame and floor from getting wet, but I was unsure if I would be able to finish it in time for the opening of the exhibition. It was almost like a drifting skit, with water pouring over my head.

——Oh, it looks like the shell is falling from above (lol). It seems to be so delicately balanced that water leaks out even when a child touches it.

Mouri : Actually, it's made up of an extremely delicate balance. For example, the part of a bicycle wheel that rotates like a ``shikaashi'' is made up of a 2-gram weight bought at a fishing tackle shop. It's running stably now, but this is one of the parts that kept leaking until the end. Other than that, I usually use string to hang things, but this time I used fishing line because string has a tendency to stretch when it comes in contact with water. This work would not be possible without fishing equipment (lol).

Yuko Mouri “Moremore: Given Falling Water #1–3” part

Yuko Mouri “Moremore: Given Falling Water #1–3” part

The meaning of creating work as an artist

——At the award ceremony, the chairman of the judging committee, Fumio Nanjo, gave a brief review, but could you please tell us more about the reason for the award?

Mouri : My feeling is that the big reason was the leap forward from previous works. There are people on the jury who have actually seen my previous works, including ``Urban Mining'', which uses street lamps, and ``I/O──'', which uses belongings inherited from musicians. It is said that he had expected him to present an advanced work such as ``A Composer's Room,'' but instead he submitted a work that was completely in the direction of the day after tomorrow. Also, I was able to link the references of creations that I happened to find around me to art history in an easy-to-understand way.

——It is clear from the title and the shape of the work, but the quote from Marcel Duchamp, who is said to be the father of contemporary art, is also characteristic.

Mouri : ``Moremore Tokyo'' is about researching the creations of people who are not artists, but in contrast, the question that came to mind was ``What is the meaning of creating work for me as an artist?'' Once the water leak has subsided, it will be removed.The water leak repair work that we covered in ``Moremore Tokyo'' is a sculpture that disappears once its use is finished, making it the most instantaneous piece of architecture. However, the works of the finalists of the Nissan Art Award will be stored, maintained and preserved by Nissan.

--In other words, the artist's job is to create something that will be left behind?

Mouri : Lately, I've been thinking about how I can preserve my work, which presents the relationship not only between objects but also phenomena such as light and sound as an "ecosystem." ``Moremore Tokyo'' may disappear, but as an artist I may be able to leave something behind. Tino Sehgal, an artist who performs guerrilla-like performances in museums and other places, does not allow video or photographic recordings to be made. However, it is stored as a "work" in museums in Europe and the United States. That means that something that is not there is now made to be. Sehgal's strategy is to leave behind the fact that there is no such thing, and a writer like him who deals with intangible things is also thinking about leaving something behind.

《I/O──A Composer's Room》2014《Circus Underground》2014

Photo left | "I/O - A Composer's Room" 2014 / Paper, wood, acrylic, dust, light bulbs, motor, blinds, forks, organ, drums, bells, craft boxes, etc. / 294 x 609 x 802 cm (variable) )
Venue: Yokohama Museum of Art / Photography: Yuichiro Tanaka / Provided by: Yokohama Triennale Organizing Committee
Right photo|《Circus Underground》2014 Compass, ammonite, bell, bell, garden tools, duster, ruler, light, umbrella, wire, motor, light bulb/size variable
Venue: Seikatei (Sapporo City Tangible Cultural Property) Chi Ka Ho / Photography: Keizo Kioku / Provided by: Creative City Sapporo International Art Festival Executive Committee

--It is true that Duchamp's work Fountain, in which he used a men's urinal, showed that the basis of art is not ``creating a substance,'' but ``the declaration that this is a work.'' This is said to have expanded the meaning and concept of art.

Mori : So, this time I caused the water to leak, so the title is taken from Duchamp's late work ``Suppose I am Given (1) Falling Water, (2) Lighting Gas''. Needless to say, ready-made items such as plastic bottles, hoses, and buckets are used to deal with water leaks. At this point, I decided to borrow the frame from ``Saemo, the Bride Stripped Naked by Her Singles'' (commonly known as ``The Big Glass'') and use it as an homage. ``Large Glass'' has the energies of the bride and bachelor circulating on a flat surface, creating a complex and chaotic cycle. I think "MoreMore Tokyo" is also like that.

--Duchamp said in an interview that he was obsessed with the idea of movement. Another characteristic of his work is a cycle of word play that resembles an association game.

Mouri : It seems like the parts were necessarily selected for the function of controlling the flow of water, but in reality they are all wasteful. I think that's what's interesting about it.

--I think it's amazing how generous Nissan is in storing this work. Although it is a two-dimensional work, it is a work that uses water, and great care must be taken in order to establish circulation.

Mori : I think this is the easiest work to store (lol). Because all you have to do is turn off the water. I wanted to say that even if the water is not circulating, it will still be a work of art. The work management instructions state that water can be run while I am alive, but once I die, the water must be turned off.

——Will Mr. Mori himself be in charge of the arrangements while he is alive?

Mouri : Yes. If a new water leak occurs, I would like to be able to do some maintenance work.

--But after you die, you can't do anything to it. Does the function of water circulation need to be permanently removed?

Mouri : It would be great if the result of bricolage remained in some form. It would be nice if it showed the fact that water used to flow, and that shapes like this created paths for water to flow. This symbolizes the circulation of energy.

——Interesting. In the work for the Sapporo International Art Festival, a spring called ``Mem'' that remains in Sapporo city was referenced. Many of the memu are now withered or remain in different forms on the Hokkaido University campus. Although it no longer functions, it is passed down as a historical relic that conveys the modernization of Meiji Japan. Mr. Mouri's current story is reminiscent of that.

Being “passive”

——Mr. Mori started out in the media art field and has since moved on to contemporary art. What do you think about the changes in the genre?

Mouri : It's not that I'm not conscious of it, but I try to make almost no changes to the works I create. On the other hand, I felt uncomfortable with the genre called media art from the beginning. I was a member of Professor Haruko Mikami's (passed away in January 2015) seminar at Tama Art University, and Professor Mikami asked me, ``Why is there such a word as media art?'' Listen carefully to my questions.

——Since the 1990s, Mikami's works have become more interactive and utilize cutting-edge technology. In that sense, he is one of the artists who established the image of media art in Japan.

Mouri : But around 2000, she seemed to have doubts about the name media art. I remember you saying that you would rather call it ``media arts'' or something that puts more emphasis on art.

--In other words, it's not technology-driven.

Mori : Well, it's true that many of the things that were called "media art" back then were experiments in "media (technology)," but it was unclear whether or not they were "art (expression)." What is it? Recently, I've started hearing the term "media art" again, but the meaning may be slightly different between then and now. In any case, I had doubts and concerns about whether it was possible to create without electronic equipment such as a computer. That may have been my biggest worry about participating in this exhibition, which is an award show for contemporary art. For this reason, we have been exploring methods other than just computer control.

Yuko Mouri

--But now it is common to use computers in contemporary art works.

Mouri : That's certainly true. On the other hand, I have always used electronic devices to express myself, but this time I finally used only a pump to suck up water (lol). This may mean that computers and vinyl hoses can now be viewed as the same materials. However, in the near future, I would like to create a work that uses computers entirely for the first time in a while. The Internet environment has changed dramatically over the past 10 years.

--Although the use of computers has become commonplace, invisible programming is the ultimate black box that makes your work mysterious. I wonder if one of the important features of Mr. Mouri's work is that all the mechanisms are disclosed and that there is no black box?

Mouri : I don't think that will change in the future. Even though it is said that there is no black box, it is common for the mechanism to be difficult to discern depending on the characteristics of the medium. For example, this was my first time using water, and it was very difficult to control the water pressure. Even though the water supply and drainage systems are all clearly visible, there are many parts where even I, the person who builds them, find myself wondering how the balance is achieved. During this time, a child of about 5 years old came to the venue to play and was observing the hose as it kept twitching. I was asked, "Why? How is this happening?" It's really cute (lol), but if you look closely, you'll see that there's a drain hose attached to the plastic bottle to prevent water from accumulating, and the water circulates from there. I know what you're doing. However, there is still something in the work that evokes a sense of mystery. I think there are just as many mysterious things that can happen without a black box. The more you show it, the more mysterious it becomes.

——That's how you improvised your new work, and does that motivate you to create it?

Mouri : There are discoveries to be made. Another theme of this work is "passiveness," which suggests that people are able to express their creativity only when faced with unpredictable situations such as water leaks. What is it? This time, I applied the scenery I saw at the workshop at Asahi Art Square to myself...In other words, I was able to create this work by forcing myself to do so.It was a discovery for me, and I will continue to create works in the future. It's a strong motivation for me to keep creating.

Related articles