James Cohan Gallery is pleased to present the first New York solo exhibition by Japanese artist Tabaimo of two video installations, Japanese Bathhouse-Gents (2000) and hanabi-ra (2002). In her animated videos, Tabaimo explores complex issues in contemporary Japanese society. By combining iconic symbols from Japanese culture with images of the everyday, Tabaimo explores the contrast between the smooth veneer of urban life and the societal changes that have transformed Japan's cultural landscape. Tabaimo conflates time and history with her use of traditional formats and the palette of Hokusai's (1760-1849) woodcuts.
Japanese Bathhouse-Gents is a video and sound installation that literally immerses the viewer in a re-created bathhouse. The animated video plays in a darkened room on three walls of the gallery, coupled with traditional Japanese music, a sloping wooden floor, and pyramidal stacks of yellow plastic wash buckets.
In this work, Tabaimo uses the bathhouse, an archaic but once integral aspect of Japanese life, as a metaphor for addressing her own view s about the changing gender, socio-economic and environmental factors affecting present-day Japan. In Japanese Bathhouse-Gents, Tabaimo explores various themes such as sexual equality, responsibility – both personal and communal, law, motherhood and pollution. Japanese Bathouse-Gents relates to the complex relations of men and women in the present day social order of Japanese culture.
Tabaimo's at once humorous and meditative single-screen video installation hanabi-ra (flower petal) opens with black crows scattering to reveal the nude posterior of a standing man, covered in what appears to be floral tattoos. Slowly the scene becomes surreal, as a butterfly and honey-bee fly from flower to flower, while a carp winds gracefully though the man's body. Flower petals begin to fall to the floor, turning into a wild flurry. The man himself then starts to molt, with fingers, arms and eventually his entire body, falling to the ground and resting amongst the petals.
Tabaimo was born in Hyogo, Japan in 1975. She was awarded the blue ribbon at the Kirin Contemporary Art Awards for Japanese Kitchen (1999) and was the youngest entrant in the "Yokohama Triennale 2001." Her work is included in 'How Latitudes Becomes Forms', a group exhibition curated by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, which tours to Turin, Paris, Finland, Houston, Mexico City, Monterrey and Ontario, 2003-2005. An exhibitions solo exhibition is planned in Paris at the Foundation Cartier Fall 2005. She exhibitionsly lives and works in Tokyo.