Fujiko Nakaya, 85, fog artist and 30th Praemium Imperiale laureate for sculpture, is opening her first large-scale solo exhibition, Resistance of Fog, at Art Tower Mito (Mito) this autumn. The show explores the theme of resistance through Fog Sculpture, Nakaya’s pièce de résistance, and expressive video art.
The generational spirit of the 1970s — a heightened awareness of our natural environment and the adverse effects of the information society — resonates throughout the exhibition.
The courtyard of Art Tower Mito is gradually enveloped in fog. Through the mist the new installation conceived for this exhibition, Counterpoint, is revealed.
Nakaya ejects an artificial fog over the symbol of the courtyard: a fountain with a gigantic rock suspended in the air. She explains that the aggressive aura of the fountain caught her attention.
The architect of Art Tower Mito, Arata Isozaki, 87, explained to Nakaya his inspiration behind the fountain. He conceived the gigantic rock washed by the powerful flow of water as a metaphor for “the Yasuda Auditorium of Tokyo University, which was blasted with water by riot police.” The furious water mingles with the soft fog, creating a contrast of rigidity and flexibility, a powerful collaboration of architecture and art that carry the memories of resistance.
The fog undergoes kaleidoscopic changes. Using the atmosphere as its form, it embraces the wind and responds to changes in the environment. Nakaya calls this kind artwork Fog Sculpture.
In 1970, she revealed her first Fog Sculpture at the Osaka Expo’s Pepsi Pavilion as part of the rice experiment called EAT, an American organization that promoted collaboration between engineers and artists. Since then, she has presented more than 80 fog artworks around the world.
She has always been particular about using pure water fog instead of chemical fog made with ammonia. This lets her create sculptures that people can enter, interact with, and experience using the whole body.
There is a sense of crisis behind her choice of the word “resistance,” and it explains the profound reason for her passion.
“The rapid climate change in recent years is caused by humans. As the number of people who only drink bottled water increases, our trust and respect for nature diminishes. I want to use the Fog Sculpture as a medium to heal the relationship between humans and nature,” the artist said.
Fugue is another new experimental work which involves projecting images in an exhibition room filled with fog. A crow flies over the sky and the mist seems to suddenly “crumble” away.
“I wanted to illustrate a scene where the crow, which had been persecuted in the city, bids farewell to the perishing earth,” Nakaya explained.
While the exhibition shows valuable images and materials relating to fog sculptures, it also introduces another side of Nakaya’s creative works — video communications with a penetrating view of society.
In the 1970s, society awakened to the environmental movement, just as the negative effects of high economic growth, such as pollution, became evident. The era also marked the start of the digital and information society.
Nakaya became concerned that if information society went too far, individual values would be homogenized, and people would be robbed of their individual freedom. Resisting the one-way approach of mass media, she quickly realized the potential of videos as a way for people to express themselves.
In addition to producing works using a small video camera, she helped create platforms for introducing foreign writers and training young artists, laying the foundation of media art in Japan. It is clear that she recognized the importance of diversity and communication in society early on.
“As an artist who lived through the ’70’s, there is something I want the young generation to know,” Nakaya said. “I want them to have the courage to believe that they can change, and that they can bring change.”
The fog is an allegory of her message. It evolves and transforms with the passage of time, undergoing a cycle of disappearance and regeneration as it circulates.
The exhibition, Resistance of Fog by Fujiko Nakaya is showing until January 20, 2019, at the Art Tower Mito Contemporary Art Gallery.
Please check the website or contact the Art Tower Mito Contemporary Art Center (029-227-8120) for hours, entrance fees, and other inquiries.
The next event is on January 6, a Talk Session on the Works of Fujiko Nakaya “A Discussion About Video Gallery SCAN.” This will be a special event with the participation of special guests Sakugi Hagiwara and Masaki Fujihata. For more information visit also the event page here.
Event Name: Talk Session on the Works of Fujiko Nakaya, “A Discussion About Video Gallery SCAN”
Venue Conference Hall, Art Tower Mito
Date：Sunday, January 6, 2018 14:00 – 15:30（Doors open at 13:30）
Speakers：Sakumi Hagiwara (Film director, producer, Director of The Maebashi City Museum of Literature) x Masaki Fujihata (Media Artist)
Capacity：80 (first-come-first-served basis)
*Numbered tickets will be distributed on the day from 11:00AM at the Entrance Hall.
Author: Ayako Kurosawa