press release

July 17–October 17, 2021

Ishu Han, Daisuke Kosugi, Maya Watanabe. A sea, a living room and a skull
MOT Annual 2021

The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo’s MOT Annual is an exhibition series held since 1999 to introduce the new current of contemporary art in Japan through the work of young artists. MOT Annual 2021: A sea, a living room and a skull has expanded its scope and presents artists from various backgrounds in order to introduce artistic practices that resonate with one other and reflect on our time experiencing an unprecedented global pandemic.

Numerous social implications of the public health crisis, such as tighter administrative control over individuals and growing stigmas and divisions among people remind us that the body is fundamentally a political domain, constantly entangled with and affected by external forces and entities. The artists introduced in this exhibition, Ishu Han, Daisuke Kosugi, and Maya Watanabe, utilize moving image as their primary medium and capture bodies, or their absence, in specific situations and landscapes in order to explore the negotiation and struggle between an individual and dominant social systems and ideologies.

Ishu Han presents a series of video works since 2010 documenting his seemingly impromptu performances in various seas in Japan. His durational and repetitive actions made around seas render visible the ineffable inner experience of being an “other” and living in between China and Japan. Daisuke Kosugi presents the film, A False Weight (2019), which casts light on the gradual transition of time and space experienced by his father, who got a rare brain disease that affects physical ability. The exhibition also shows his latest work, All that goes before forget (2021), that delves into how traumatic memories can dominate the body, repeatedly and against one’s will. Maya Watanabe has been engaging with the memories and unresolved violence of the internal conflict that seized her country, Peru, from 1980 to 2000. Three of her video installations are presented in this exhibition: Sceneries (2016), Liminal (2019), and a new site-specific work. They capture landscapes and bodies suspended in between the past and present, witnessing the violence that continues to haunt Peruvian society.

These works grapple with the various forces that penetrate our existence and mediate our conduct, and explore the potential of restoring agency and dignity. Through these artists’ explorations into immediate or distant terrains that contour the conditions of their subjects, the exhibition invites a reflection on what mediates our perspectives and subjecthood in contemporary society.

Organizer: Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo operated by Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture
Grant from: Mondriaan Fonds, Office for Contemporary Art Norway

Curated by Kyongfa Che (Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo).