Japanese artist Mr.’s latest exhibition at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery in Chelsea is a conglomeration of sculptural installations made from garbage to pay homage to the victims of last year's Fukushima nuclear disaster. The stacks of organized trash are made up of Japanese newspapers, mattresses, working TVs, toys, and everyday objects found in a typical Japanese home. Through these groupings of garbage, Mr. hopes to convey the displaced and confused feeling of the Japanese people after the disasters.
Mr.’s chaotic installation begins with a window display strewn with hanging denim, plastic bags and collected materials, welcoming visitors into the garbage-laden gallery. Upon entering, visitors are met with a giant worm-like sculpture that spans the gallery’s length and is comprised totally of trash. A flattened beach lounge chair stretches across the front, almost like a windshield on a garbage train. Cobbled together are personal effects of Japanese life. Televisions blare news and other programs, pots and pans dangle like mobiles, while books and clothing are compressed together and plastic bags hang full of garbage or goods. Several mattresses are strapped to the top of the piece, as if being kept safe from what lurks on the ground.
The installation feels like a pieced-together ark, made from items salvaged from a disaster zone. Around the central heap are careful piles of other items including unraveled VHS tapes, their glittering temporarily deceiving their original purpose. Large Manga paintings with Japanese characters line the walls between the installations.
Not many artists can use garbage effectively to convey a message and incite empathy like Mr. can. These “cast off” pieces evoke the chaotic and unsettled feeling of the Fukushima disaster and its aftereffects of dealing with a mess that was once an organized life.
Images ©Lori Zimmer for Inhabitat