Parergon: Japanese Art of the 1980s and 1990s


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  • Focusing on the themes of abject politics, transcending media, performativity, and satire and simulation, Parergon presents the work of over twenty-five visual artists including Kodai Nakahara, Tatsuo Miyajima, Kazumi Nakamura, Yukie Ishikawa, Tsuyoshi Ozawa and Yukinori Yanagi in an array of media spanning painting, sculpture, duration performance, noise, video and photography.

    The title makes reference to the gallery in Tokyo (Gallery Parergon, 1981-1987) that introduced many artists associated with the New Wave phenomenon, its name attributed to Jacques Derrida’s essay from 1978 which questioned the “framework” of art, influential to artists and critics during the period. Parergon brings together some of the most enigmatic works that were first generated during a rich two-decade period that are pivotal to the way we perceive and understand contemporary Japanese art today. In the aftermath of the conceptual reconsideration of the object and relationality spearheaded by Mono-ha in the 1970s, this era opened up new critical engagements with language and medium where artists explored expansions in installation, performance, and experimental multi-genre practices.

    The book follows the exhibition at Blum & Poe which ran in two parts from February to May 2019 in Los Angeles.