by Rahul KumarJan 21, 2023
The science of cartography isn’t just a means for geographical study, but provides immense scope for anthropological insights. The visual archive inevitably reveals characteristics and details about the community of the place one documents or maps. Not only does this knowledge influence our perceptions of the space and time we come to inhabit or choose to migrate to, but it also creates a sense of community through the shared interconnections one comes to discover.
In this light, the exhibition MOT Satellite: Wandering, Mapping, organised by the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT), aims to rediscover the richness and charm of the museum’s surrounding neighbourhood through city strolls that encourage visitors to explore and engage with various artworks and the local district. Rather than going straight home after viewing the exhibitions at the museum, visitors are invited to take a walk and wander around the streets of Kiyosumi-shirakawa. On this occasion, we bring our focus to ‘maps’.
The exhibition introduces various ‘maps’, from maps depicting an imaginary city in detail, to those that convey senses such as touch, smell, and sound, as well as ones that visualise the daily lives of the people who live there. A ‘game book’ that entails collecting narrative fragments, and tapestry interwoven as participants respond to questions, both encourage viewers to reconsider the ways they perceive and interact with different places.
The exhibition features works by five artists - Takayuki Imaizumi, Mary Corey March, Takayuki Mitsushima, Ayako Sato and orangcosong + Haruka Shinji.
Japanese artist Takayuki Imaizumi (Chirijin)’s map has been created over a period of 20 years, being constantly updated. Rather than reflecting the vision of the city, the work attempts to read into and provide a glimpse of the lives and conflicts of 1.56 million people who live in the imaginary city of Nagomuru. His work then creates new ways of looking at cities.
American artist Mary Corey March has created a participatory work for the exhibition, titiled Identity Tapestry. The piece required on-site production and displays over 200 plaques describing various characteristics in text format such as “I was born here” and “I live my dreams”. Visitors to the museum and general participants are invited to wrap the yarn around the plaques they associate with. What results in the process is a large woven tapestry symbolic of the threading together of a community whose associations, while individually different, all seem to bind them together even still.
Takayuki Mitsushima from Kyoto is an artist who makes sense of space and matter through sensory organs other than sight. He works with drafting tape, cut-out stickers as well as nails hammered onto wooden panels, playing with shapes, colours, spacing, inclination and height difference to create works influencing the sense of sound, smell, touch, and may create physical sensations.
Another artist Ayako Sato uses a technique she calls ‘personal memory mapping’ to create maps on which she plots events from the everyday lives and cherished attachments of individuals. The maps then become an archive of sorts of the personal characteristics and insights of the individuals living in the area.
Through her practice, she serves to visualise the changes over the past 60 years regarding the relationship between the residents of the Fukagawa / Kiyosumi-shirakawa district that she interviewed, and their local neighbourhood. Mapping for her becomes a conduit for generating a dialogue in the community.
Artists orangcosong + Haruka Shinji created a thematic walk – ENGEKI QUEST - which invites people to freely explore the town and its streets based on options indicated in an ‘Adventure Book’ in which the story branches out according to the choices of the ‘game player.’ The story starts when visitors acquire an “Adventure Book” in the exhibition room. By taking part in the game while actually walking around the Kiyosumi-shirakawa neighborhood and locating various landmarks, players come to find themselves in a cross between fiction and reality.
In addition, MOT Satellite introduces various works that impact our perspective of maps from ethnographic materials to ancient maps, and contemporary artworks.
Maps then provide clues to explore the unknown and re-discover aspects of the known. They harbour the potential to change the way you look at and engage with the museum’s local district and the neighborhood where you live.
The exhibition is on display until October 20, 2019.