Magazine article Artforum International

Taro Izumi

Magazine article Artforum International

Taro Izumi

Article excerpt

Taro Izumi's videos and performances combine sheer physical sensation with slapstick gestures that reflect the influence of contemporary cartoons, animation, and computer games. Izumi frequently invents task-based actions that resemble children's games with simple but absurd rules; by doggedly following such rules in performance, and documenting the process with deliberately fragmented videos that treat images and sounds as pure sensory data, he attains such effects as the spatial and temporal extension of pictorial expression and the evocation of unconscious drives. Izumi's latest solo show, "Kneading," demonstrated the maturation of this strategy by incorporating the material effects of physical performance and the architectural eccentricities of the exhibition space into the visual experience of the work.

Among the seven large and small video installations constituting the show, the most spectacular was The Cultivation of a Shoe Bottom, 2010, a five-thousand-square-foot video projection onto the ground floor, to be viewed from above. The video shows Izumi and his assistants building up and playing with a gigantic version of sugoroku, a kind of board game. Each day during the course of the show, the video grew longer as it showed the artist and his crew making further progress; the work functioned as a kind of painting evolving in time and space, while the bird's-eye view of the scene made the workers look tiny, like the Lilliputians in Gulliver's Travels. At the same time, projected on the front wall, an enlarged view of the same floor work showed the artist wearing a bear mask and pouring various colors of paint and other materials over the game, conveying a sense of the grotesque and the uncanny in the midst of the innocent atmosphere of a children's playground.

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Little Cammy, 2010, consisted of two video projections: In one, shown on the side wall of a hall outside the main gallery, six people push a boxlike hut--each of its sides more than six feet across--until it tumbles over; the other, projected on a monitor set in the same hut, shows Izumi standing inside it, his face and body smeared with the paints of various colors, flour, and other materials that splash over him from falling buckets above him as the hut tips over. …

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