Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Mariko Mori's Spiritual Exploration

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Mariko Mori's Spiritual Exploration

Article excerpt

The surge of religious interest in the late twentieth century puzzled and even confounded many prophets of the decline of religion. All the signs were against religion. The Enlightenment dream of the truly rational society seemed within reach. We were beyond religion and ideology. Science and technology commanded space, communication and even the human genes. What place could be left for transcendent values?

Mariko Mori struggles with this question in her artistic synthesis of religious symbolism, high-tech imagery, fashion design and a variety of performances from playful fashion model to religious figure. In the quiet of viewing these artistic performances, we become aware that she is chanting some of her own compositions to enrich the experience. As always with art, verbal descriptions cannot convey the real impact of this encounter upon the viewer, but a few words may whet the appetite of a possible audience.

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, in collaboration with the Serpentine Gallery, London, displays some of Mori's creations in a stunning exhibition on view through March 14, 1999. The viewer moves from humorous fantasies through pop cultural images into cybernetic visions of Nirvana. These works span only a few years of Mariko Mori's creations but reflect her deepening religious concerns. Born in Tokyo in 1967, Mori has worked as a fashion model and studied art in London and New York. The exhibition makes clear her wide range of creative abilities as she uses fashion design, musical composition, and vocal performance to enhance her videos, photographs and sculptural works.

Almost upon entering the exhibit one meets a work titled Tea Ceremony. An "office lady" in bionic garb stands in the corridor of a skyscraper offering tea to passing office workers who go about their business, ignoring her. This seems a frivolous piece until one realizes that the tea ceremony is a serious religious ritual which has gained prominence in recent years. This work expresses Mori's critical side, suggesting the indifference of a commercial culture to spiritual values. …

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