Yoshinori NIWA “Why does humankind engage in economic activity?”

2023.04.15 – 05.20
Opening hour: 12.00-18.00
Closed on Sun, Mon, National holiday
*We will be closed between 04.29 – 05.08.
In this exhibition, Why does humankind engage in economic activity?, the artist Yoshinori Niwa presents videos, drawings, and neon works. These works shed light on how the human identity is shaped by capitalist society, which is premised on mass production, mass consumption, and mass disposal, and its products.

As Niwa was active in performance art for many years, the titles of his works hold special significance for him. In the past, nearly all of the titles ended in “-ing.” Niwa’s videos, which document his performances, are just one more example. In essence, they are presented as a public protocol that can be used by anyone.

In the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Niwa expanded his performance works by embarking on a new series of collages in which he combined supermarket fliers that were deposited in his mailbox everyday with pictures from newspapers and masking tape. Alongside images of meat, sausages, clothing, and mass-produced industrial goods, a variety of actions (i.e., titles) are specified in large Japanese and German writing, as a critique of capitalist society, against a backdrop of innocently smiling models. Niwa made the majority of these works at his studio in Vienna.

In recent years, Niwa staged the Narrating our possessions, 2022 performance, in which he randomly read legible words over the telephone in a public space in London as he crawled through the street toward the gallery. He was also invited by the Prameya Art Foundation to place an ad in a Dehli newspaper, and in a citizen-participation project called Living in someone’s possessions, 2023, he temporarily borrowed various things from ordinary people and attempted to imitate their daily lives. All of these works raise questions about the human race, which finds itself at the mercy of capitalist society with its concomitant mass production, mass consumption, and mass disposal. Although we all share a hatred for capitalism, it is impossible to refrain from taking part in economic activities. It is within this sad state of affairs that our identities seep out.

Supported by the Austrian Cultural Forum Tokyo