press release

Dumb Type. Actions + Reflections
16.11.2019 - 16.02.2020

The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT) is delighted to announce the solo exhibition Actions + Reflections by multimedia artist collective Dumb Type. The exhibition, which marks the 35th anniversary of the group’s formation, constitutes an updated version of the 2018 exhibition at the Centre Pompidou-Metz, curated by Yuko Hasegawa, with new works as well as an extensive archive of the group’s past performances.

About Dumb Type
Founded in Kyoto in 1984 by students of Kyoto City University of Arts, Dumb Type is centered on Teiji Furuhashi (1960-1995) and remained the focus of critical attention for their highly inventive, non-hierarchic pieces developed as collaborations between its members, each pursuing their own individual artistic style. Their modus operandi—the "Dumb Type"-type—is characterized by the act of discovering new relationships and visions in the real, of exploring the use of media and human body, and of sharing experience with the audience.

According to Furuhashi, the group's name and its approach originate in the Japanese context whose uncritical openness to Western influences and 1980s economic bubble resulted in the creation of the superficial society conditioned by mass media, consumerism and technology, in which individuals are “overwhelmed with information yet unaware of anything” and desire goes hand-in-hand with despair. The "dumb" in Dumb Type is therefore a deliberate choice, playing with the word’s double meanings.

Sanitized and unrelenting, Dumb Type sought to perform a self-critical reassessment of hierarchy of values in highly informatized society. The group also aimed to question the excessive trust we place in our own experiences and consciousness—a self that does not speak, a self-configuration that had taken a step back from the fray. At the core of Dumb Type's practice, composed of simple symbols, prototypical images and the strategy of shock and repetition, was a transparent, shared language created by its members who had perceived a deadlock in the myth of individuality. It challenges the audience’s sensors—to what extent is it possible to apprehend elements hidden within these spatial experience? In a sense, the pieces in their entirety were akin to the experience of Zen or the state of in-betweenness (“ma”), connoting nothingness precisely because of their surfeit of meaning.

In this exhibition, MOT presents seven major Dumb Type installations, two of them newly produced for the occasion, including Playback, based on Teiji Furuhashi’s performance Pleasure Life; the piece pH, a reproduction of the same-titled installation from the early period; LOVE/SEX/DEATH/MONEY/LIFE, based on the play S/N and the exhibition The Human Condition from 1994; Teiji Furuhashi’s LOVERS (2001/second edition), which will be exhibited until January 19, 2020, as well as MEMORANDUM OR VOYAGE, which reconstructs three performances created after Furuhashi’s death.

With its immersive spatial experience and sound design, this exhibition provides an introduction to the works and artistic activities of Dumb Type, a group whose vision continues to live on after Teiji Furuhashi’s death, thanks to newly joined members as well as veterans like Shiro Takatani or Ryoji Ikeda. Also included is an archive offering an extensive overlook of Dumb Type’s history, creativity and its pioneering message which preceded the advent of the internet age.

In conjunction with the exhibition, a catalogue will be published by Kawade Shobo Shinsha.

Curator: Yuko Hasegawa (MOT)
Exhibition Staff: Tomoe Moriyama (MOT)
Organized by: Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo / Nikkei Inc.
Supported by: The Agency for Cultural Affairs Government of Japan in the fiscal 2019
Special Thanks to: Centre Pompidou-Metz, Sony PCL Inc.|4K VIEWING
Cooperated with: Dumb Type Office Ltd. / The National Museum of Art, Osaka

*Small modifications are scheduled to take place during the exhibition period. Artworks included in the exhibition may be subject to change.