March 26, 2018 / May 4, 2018 – HONG KONG
Over the Influence and kamel mennour are pleased to present “Nest and Tree hut,” an exhibition of the work of Tadashi Kawamata. Kawamata’s artisanal practice places him at a distance from the spotlight and the gossip columns of the art world. His work is always the result of a deep, personal commitment. Though he began his training as a painter, Kawamata soon turned to a more hands-on form of artistic practice. ‘I don’t trust things I can’t touch. Maybe that’s why I stick to tangible, concrete materials,’ he says. His installations and preparatory models are all made of wood. For Kawamata, this natural, easy to find material is the most democratic available.
He is internationally renowned for his monumental, site-specific installations. Bridges, favelas, nests made from thousands of Japanese chopsticks, towers made of chairs, or constructions made of packing crates. In order to prepare these installations, Kawamata uses scale models. A selection from among the most recent of these are on display for the current show. Most of these installations are impermanent, so the models and the sketches remain as their only archive, a trace and a memory of these temporary, monumental constructions. The work of memory is particularly important in the project, Under the Water, where Kawamata assembled wooden debris into a floating platform above the heads of the viewers, in memory of the Tsunami in Japan.
However, nests and huts also have a highly political value for Kawamata. For him, they are ways of drawing our attention away from the monotony of the city. They are so many parasites, attaching themselves to corners of buildings or on the trees in a park. Kawamata invests them with the same political value as graffiti had in the 1980s. In 2012, he built favelas from found materials in the city of Ghent in Belgium. The construction drew attention to the problem of housing instability, a situation shared by the homeless and migrants in multicultural cities.
For Tadashi Kawamata, art is an antiauthoritarian exercise, from the choice of materials to the process of fabrication. His protocol for each project is to ask local students to help construct the work. In this way, the worksite becomes a place of social and intellectual exchange. The artist and his assistants work on the same level. ‘What I’m looking for above all is the pleasure of working together. The final result is secondary to that.’
Kawamata’s work resides in the creative process, one that constantly fits out spaces of freedom and democracy. Each one of his projects, from the scale model to the public or exhibition space, investigates the link between art and society and revitalises our relationship to the real.