Monday, 12 July 2010


Ujino, Sherbert Dab Swivel (2009)

18 February - 24 April 2009

Ujino Muneteru's The Rotators is the title for a series of installations, sound sculptures, and performances put together using household electrical appliances, power tools, and other bits and pieces, taking "global culture" as its motif. At first sight they simply resemble a chaotic collection of household goods, but they all reflect the artist's unique improvisational style of assembling objects, which he calls "electric bento" or "plastic ikebana".

A product of the extensive economic growth of Japan in the seventies and eighties, Ujino was surrounded by American pop culture and then-novel plastic household appliances. In 1978 a fourteen-year-old Ujino set himself the task of "providing an answer to pop in my own electric way". In 1983 there was a shift in Japan's export policy from the "heavy and unwieldy" in the form of things like steel and shipbuilding to the "light and compact" in the form of things like automobiles, electrical appliances, and computers, and the "things" that formed part of everyday life started to get smaller and lighter, a trend characterized by the launch in 1985 of the first Sony Handycam. In The Rotators, he uses mainly secondhand items whose basic mechanisms were designed before 1985, the reason being that amidst the intensification of the drive towards increasingly light and compact consumer goods, these were the last things he feels still retained a "human scale".

In the sixties, Jean Tinguely, a leading proponent of kinetic art, was making kinetic sculptures out of waste including household electrical appliances and machine tools. The mass-production, mass-consumption society that formed the backdrop to the rise of junk art also provides inspiration to modern-day Tokyoite Ujino in the form of "various bits of scrap that pass by my house". Ujino's approach, although it shares a similar critical spirit and recycling ethos, derives mainly from a penchant for the tactile work associated with manual training classes and DIY.

In the post-1990 Internet age, materialism, which once symbolized the age of mass production and mass consumption, has been superceded by nonmaterial virtual space, while design, which continues to move in the direction of multifunctionality and size and weight reduction, has contributed to a weakening of the presence of actual "things" with volume and gravity. Viewed in this light, The Rotators, in which secondhand household electrical appliances, furniture, and other objects are combined to produce noise, could be described as a new materialism whose goal is to restore and rehabilitate the innately human senses of touch, hearing, and weight.

For this exhibition at The Hayward Project Space, Ujino is transformed the space into his workshop, continuously welcoming ‘new band members’ from London during his stay at The Southbank Centre as an Artist in Residence until the end of March 2009. During the exhibition’s run, Ujino and The Rotators gaveseveral public performances as part of Southbank Centre’s Ether ’09 Festival of Art and Technology – Friday 10 April at 6:30pm and 10:45pm, Saturday 11 April at 6:30pm and 10:45pm and Sunday 12 April at 6:30pm: Evening performances took place on the Festival Terrace and late night performances are at Concrete. From 4 March a major temporary public sculpture by Ujino entitled Sherbet Dab Swivel was on display on the Festival Terrace.

Curator: Mami Kataoka, International Curator, The Hayward


Ujino interview in PingMag

Hayward Gallery / Southbank Centre website

Tim Lee, Installation Shot, Hayward Project Space

9 January - 8 February 2009

In a recent interview, the Canadian artist Tim Lee (born Seoul, Korea, 1975) stated that ‘the thing with me is that I take comedy very seriously’. Employing a range of media, including video, photography and sculpture, he revisits key moments from the life and works of a variety of cultural icons, from artists to musicians to comedians. Often skating close to absurdity, Lee’s ‘cover versions’ emphasise that cultural history, far from being fixed, is a thing in a constant state of flux – remade and remixed with every fresh perspective on it.

For his exhibition at The Hayward Project Space, Lee presents a number of recent and new works that turn on the notion of optical experimentation. Here, formal strategies such as spinning, tilting, rotating, splicing and cropping combine to create a series of unstable representations of various artistic figures – the Russian constructivist photographer Alexander Rodchenko, the American artist Dan Graham, and the American comedian Steve Martin – underlining both Lee’s relationship to them, and their (perhaps unexpected) relationship to each other.

Speaking about his Untitled (Studio Roll), 2008 – a piece that draws on Dan Graham’s seminal double projection Roll (1970) – Lee has said that the video emerged from his interest in how ‘one person’s stable perspective might be another person’s warped one’. Multiple ways of seeing are also foregrounded in Untitled (Alexander Rodchenko), 2008, an optical device comprised of angled mirrors which allows a Leica I camera (a tool heavily associated with Rodchenko’s dynamic form of photography) to take images of itself, heterogeneously reflecting on its own history. In Untitled (Steve Martin), 2008, Lee re-enacts a 1970s stand-up routine by Steve Martin, a comic who once famously informed his audience that his entire act would consist of one joke, repeated over and over until the final curtain. Martin claimed that this ‘will be like a new thing’, and as Lee’s work demonstrates, repetition gives rise to fresh possibilities. Time, space, and our own fluctuating selves ensure that we can’t quite ever say the same thing twice.

Curator: Tom Morton

Exhibition supported by Canada House Art Arts Trust


Hayward Gallery / Southbank Centre website

frieze magazine review of Tim Lee's 2009 show at Johnen Galerie Berlin

Artist's pages at