Magazine article Artforum International

Akira Yamaguchi

Magazine article Artforum International

Akira Yamaguchi

Article excerpt

TOKYO

MAISON HERMES 8TH FLOOR LE FORUM

Visitors to Akira Yamaguchi's recent show might not have noticed at First that five columns inside the gallery had been turned into a row of towering electric poles; the mock fixtures--transformer box, power lines, conductors, and so--on camouflage the upper half of each column so convincingly that the objects making up Unforgettable Electric Poles fall works 2012) seem quite real. Yet there was an estranging effect, as in a daydream: The tall glass wall surrounding the gallery emphasized that this was an interior space, underlining the displaced status of the poles. Abundant details--carefully designed fictive accoutrements, sleek in their form and with surfaces impeccably finished to fetishistic standards, as well as the calculated tension in the aligned connecting cables--contribute to the fictitiousness of the ise-en-scne.

Electric poles have long been among Yamaguchi's subjects, for instance in drawings accompanied by a statement--fictional, of course--that they were initially prototyped by a Meiji flower-arrangement master who wanted to emphasize their beauty over their functionality, the result being a retro-chic wooden pole with a lacquered transformer box and mini paper lanterns crowned with elegant rooftops. In Litt forgettable Electric Poles, a prop-rich narrative develops at eye level too, with various extras attached to each pole: a message board, artificial flowers in a can, a urinal, an overhanging roof where one might take shelter from the rain, and a DIY antiaircraft gun. All represent communication devices, even the over-hanging roof standing, as the artist told me, for a potentially romantic encounter underneath, and the mock weapon (based on one in use during World War II) suggesting a particular relationship between a father and the son for whom he made it. The phantasmagoric poles are animated by fabricated stories. …

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