press release

The exhibition series Moderna Museet Now 2009 starts off with a presentation of the acclaimed young Japanese artist Tabaimo. Contemporary urbanity meets fable and compulsion in her idiosyncratic computer-animations of images inspired by, and contrasting to, Japanese anime and traditional woodcuts.

In her video installations Tabaimo explores issues of identity – including her own – and the individual versus the collective. Her work is often based on everyday situations where the events and characters tend toward the comical, and occasionally grotesque.

Three of her recent film works are featured in the Moderna Museet exhibition. dolefullhouse (2007) shows a pair of restless hands furnishing a doll’s house in a western bourgeois style. In midnight sea (2006/2008) we see a stylised nocturnal seascape. Waves break across the black surface of the water, in an ancient Japanese metaphor for skin and ageing.

public conVENience (2006; VEN is Japanese for ‘public’), a new acquisition in the Moderna Museet collection, is set in a public ladies’ lavatory. In this intimate yet anonymous environment, remarkable things take place in and outside the thin-walled cubicles. A woman totters in painfully and gives birth to a child through her nose, flushes the baby down the toilet on the back of a turtle. On one level, the work can be interpreted as an allegory over the Internet, a world where we can find a plethora of information and disinformation, and where we spend more and more of our social life. The internet can induce a feeling of control and distance, of mastering reality, when in fact we are under surveillance there, and vulnerable. public conVENience reveals traces of the social satire and media critique that are often found in Tabaimo’s work.

Tabaimo strives to upturn or undermine preconceived notions. This ambition also prompts her to install her works in such a way that the viewer is forced to take an uncomfortable position. This draws us in and engages us in a way that helps us to understand the underlying message.

Tabaimo, or Ayako Tabata, was born in 1975 in Hyogo, Japan and is now based in Nagano. Since her graduation from Kyoto University of Art and Design in 1999, her work has been shown in many solo and group exhibitions. For instance, she participated in the triennial in Yokohama in 2001, and in the biennials in Valencia (2001), Sao Paulo (2002) and Venice (2007). Her first appearance to the Swedish public was in 2006, when the dance and video work FURO by Tabaimo and the choreographer Ohad Naharin had its original performance at the Jewish Theatre in Stockholm.

Moderna Museet Nu is an exhibition series for contemporary art and historically interesting oeuvres, comprising some four exhibitions per year. Moderna Museet Now is supported by Vinge.

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Lena Essling