April 22 - October 9, 2023
SEZON MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
Distraction Series 16
Dear Friends, The new year brings with it the twelfth edition of our Ambiguous Zones newsletter, written by guest author Chaeeun Lee who thoughtfully considers Arakawa and Madeline Gins’s concept of Blank. Chaeeun is a PhD Candidate in Art History at CUNY Graduate Center and a research intern at the Reversible Destiny Foundation. She is writing her dissertation on the politics of abstraction and aesthetics in the work of Asian American and Asian immigrant artists during the 1960s and the 1970s, exploring the ways in which their work problematized the established norms of racial, cultural, and gender identification in search of alternative constructions of the self and the world. Chaeeun’s beautiful essay offers readers an accessible introduction to Blank that serves as a novel way to meditate on seasonal themes of fresh starts and shifting perspectives. Yours in the reversible destiny mode,Reversible Destiny Foundation and the ARAKAWA+GINS Tokyo Office “LOUDLY THERE AND SHIFTING ABOUT AND TUMBLING INTO VIEW”: TRACING BLANK IN THE WORK OF ARAKAWA AND MADELINE GINS, 1968-1982 by Chaeeun Lee Figure 1. Arakawa, Study for “Shifting Blank,” 1979. Acrylic and graphite on lithograph and paper, 42 1/2 x 59 7/8 in. (108 x 152.1 cm). In Arakawa’s Study for “Shifting Blank,” a legion of
Figure 1. Container of Sand (1958-59), an example of a coffin work made in Tokyo, photograph by Masataka Nakano Dear Friends, For Ambiguous Zones 11, we are pleased to introduce guest author Keenan Jay, who wrote an insightful essay on Arakawa’s solo exhibition of mainly coffin works at the Zuni Gallery in Buffalo, NY, in March of 1964. Jay is a researcher of modern and contemporary art with an interest in diasporic art and the neo-avant-garde. He was a 2021 research fellow with PoNJA-GenKon and Asia Art Archive in America and has recently presented at the annual conference of the Association for Asian American Studies among others. He has been conducting a series of oral history interviews on Montez Press Radio since 2019. Yours in the reversible destiny mode,Reversible Destiny Foundation and ARAKAWA+GINS Tokyo Office Figure 2. Installation shot from 1964 Zuni exhibition, photograph by Sherwin Greenberg Studio, Inc. In a January 1967 Artforum article, critic Yoshiaki Tono recalls his surprise at a new group of artists who had appeared in Tokyo during the late 1950s. He frames these artists, who called their collective Neo Dada (initially the Neo Dadaism Organizers), through their formative postwar upbringing, writing that “they desired an art
November 3, 4, and 5 2022 @Former YOSHIDA Sake Brewery, Tadotsu town, Kagawa, Japan
Arakawa, Untitled, 1968 Even though there are about two weeks left of summer in New York, where the RDF office is located, we have been inundated with advertisements for pumpkin spice everything (lattes, donuts, beer, etc.) since the last week of August. Rather than turn to this fall flavor already, we thought we would share the recipe for Banana Cake from Arakawa’s painting, Untitled, 1968. Unlike your typical banana bread recipe, which is full of spice, this cake heroes the banana, and topped with pillowy layers of whipped cream, it sounded like a perfect dessert to celebrate the end of summer. While Arakawa most likely did not intend for the recipe to be baked, this painting offers a set of instructions that you can follow, as many of his other paintings explicitly ask you to do. It is always an interesting experiment to see the divergent outcomes when different people follow the same set of instructions. Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, “Banana Cake,” in The Joy of Cooking (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1963), 630. This recipe comes from the 1963 edition of The Joy of Cooking, which Madeline and Arakawa most likely had on their shelves and was often the
Arakawa at a café in Piazza San Marco, Venice, most likely 1970, on Polaroid paper stock dated to 1969. The café in question is most likely Caffè Lavena. Dear Friends, For Ambiguous Zones 9, we travel to the Japan Pavilion at the 35th Venice Biennale that took place in 1970. Marking the first time the inner gallery was reserved for a single artist, art critic Yoshiaki Tono, the commissioner of the Japan Pavilion, chose Arakawa for that year. Several canvases were exhibited from Arakawa’s large-scale project, The Mechanism of Meaning, which began in 1963 and was still in progress at the time. Developed alongside Madeline Gins, this series of panels rigorously interrogated perception, the process of receiving, organizing, and interpreting information using our senses, in this case mainly sight. These works were accompanied by related drawings and diagrammatic paintings from the 1960s that turned the show into a retrospective of Arakawa’s work over the previous decade. Yours in the reversible destiny mode, Reversible Destiny Foundation and the ARAKAWA+GINS Tokyo Office Floor plan sketch of the Japan Pavilion at the 35th Venice Biennale by Yoshiaki Tono, included in a letter from Tono to Arakawa delivered to New York on January 21st, 1970.
I am looking for a new definition of perfection.
The future of philosophy lies in architecture ?
We alone among philosophers and architects have seen fit to declare this.