Magazine article Sculpture

Commissions

Magazine article Sculpture

Commissions

Article excerpt

SHIRO MASUYAMA

Borderline Project

Throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland

When Japanese artist Shiro Masuyama moved to Northern Ireland in 2010, he had a hard time understanding subtle differences between British and Irish culture. In an effort to further his education, he decided to decorate the interior of a trailer with British objects on one side and their corresponding Irish equivalents on the other; then he took to the road. Masuyama has been touring with Borderline Project since 2013-driving up and down the Irish-Northern Irish border ("I cannot really see a physical border. And they don't even have passport control."), collecting objects along the way, and inviting visitors to tell him their stories and add to his collection.

The objects on display in the trailer include everything from novelty mugs and magnets to heirloom watches and jewelry. Even the wallpaper and upholstery are culturally significant. (Masuyama deliberately sidestepped religion and politics, focusing instead on differences in everyday life.) Though he found himself buried in British knickknacks at flea markets and thrift stores, he found it surprisingly difficult to obtain Irish objects. "Some of the Irish culture has been disappearing," he observes, adding that he had to "revive" some of it by importing pieces from Irish-American collections.

When Masuyama explains Borderline Project to visitors, he finds that "many people talk about Tayto crisps" and how the differences between the Irish and Northern Irish varieties exemplify cultural distinctions. Tayto brand potato chips-which originated in Ireland and have a Northern Irish equivalent, but with different packaging and a different taste-are the trailer's most popular display. Ryan Air and Easy Jet toy airplanes are Masuyama's favorites, but he's learned most about cultural differences via dolls. "Most of the British dolls are wearing gorgeous dresses," he says. "They remind me of bourgeois society." Irish dolls, on the other hand, champion the working classes, often dressed as farmers or laborers.

Masuyama is still touring, collecting, and learning with Borderline Project. "I don't think this project has an ending," he says. He hopes to gather enough objects to create rotating collections for his mobile museum, and he remains eager to learn about British and Irish culture: "Borderline Project often raises deep conversations with people...I find this the most important part of the project."

ALFREDO BARSUGLIA

Social Pool

Mojave Desert, CA

Somewhere in the middle of the Mojave Desert, a small swimming pool-complete with floating octopus thermometer and a solarpowered cleaning system-offers visitors a private escape from daily life. "The location of the pool had to be in a very remote area, with no community nearby, no infrastructure, only nature, where a manmade sculpture would pop out, like an alien species," explains Austrian artist Alfredo Barsuglia, creator of Social Pool. Adding to the aura of mystery, the pool's exact location is kept secret. Visitors must first travel to the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in West Hollywood to acquire coordinates and a key to unlock the pool, which slides closed when not in use. Next come a 2.5-hour drive and a short desert hike (the pool is far from the road, so you can't drive right up to it).

Combining "elements of the sublime and the ridiculous," Social Pool mimics the private backyard swimming pools that have long served as status symbols in Los Angeles. …

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