This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit

Disability Arts Online

21_21 Tokyo, Image-Makers / 8 September 2014

This black and white video portrait of Gao Zinglian in a dark narrow corrodor mirrors fuzzy purple in the rough polished concrete walls on each side of it. Gao Xinglian`s eyes are closed, his mouth very slightly open and his bald image is cropped at the c

`Solitude is a necassary condition of liberty`

Zoom in to this image and read text description

21_21 Design is another of my favourite Tokyo places. The exhibitions in this gallery are always something special. Image-Makers is no exception; featuring work by Jean-Paul Goude, Jun Miyake, Robert Wilson, David Lynch, Noritaka Takehana and Photographer Hal, Image-Makers is directed by Helene Kelmachter.
Grace Jones and Bjork feature on the poster and in the works of Jean-Paul Goude together with drawings and kinetic sculptures.
As you enter the first exhibition space you are greeted with lithographs by David Lynch and a 7 minute video portrait by Robert Wilson, of the back view of Princess Grace of Monaco clad in a long, sleeveless black dress. She stands perfectly still and the fascination is in the changing lighting effect playing with her wedding ring, the back-slit in the dress, her upper arm and the outline of her face.
On her right hand side is a window to the floor below which frames another video, this time of a Briard dog (on a loop) with its large, very pink tongue hanging out. It too is almost perfectly still. The fascination here is in the juxtaposition. Robert Wilson's high definition portraits recur throughout the space, almost playing with Tadeo Ando's architecture. On the lower floor, Boris the porcupine, sitting in a star filled universe to the tune of Daisy, Daisy is a whole new perspective on the animal.
In a long corridor the face of Gao Xinglian, the writer, mirrors in the rough polished concrete walls; the words 'Solitute is a necessary condition of liberty' - quoting Hemmingway, but in French, appear and disappear across it.
Jean-Paul Goude's mesmerising and slightly unsettling kinetic sculptures, Two Waltzing Automotons and Spinning Automoton, fill the main space accompanied by the compelling music of Jun Miyake. His Contructivist Maternity Dress travels the floor along one long wall and a multi screen video installation on the opposite wall features a train and stations with adverts in a Paris subway. Photographs and drawings interpreting his muses add depth and humour. 
French Correction plays with the whole image making process with body prosthetics and a video interview from a talk-show reveals how a short 'less attractive' male transforms into a 'more attractive' one with the illusion of height.
And in the next room Photographer Hal's large colourful abstract images are actually vacuum packed couples with a collection of musical instruments, bicycles and shoes. On closer inspection, the apparently attractive first impression becomes deeply troubling. Hal has just 10 seconds to take these photographs.
Noritaka Tatehana's hand-made, heel-less shoes challenge the notions of gravity and balance. If you are a size 38 or 42 you can try some on and attempt to walk about on a pair of black platforms that are shaped for stiletto heels, except that the heels are not there.

French Correction remodels the human body
humorously; Morphological Improvements
reassemble cut-out images - drawing
attention to the way the body is both
projected and perceived. Kinetic theatre
confined to preconceived patterns of lines
and circles accentuates my freedom
of expression balanced on the edges
of my nightmares and dreams; on my childhood
memories or the subconscious hinting
of déjà vu somewhere in a past presence.
Was I whirling on a carousel doomed
to anosognosia-by-proxy
through a childhood told to me by my
culturally disconnected mother;
was I even then trapped by inevitable
wheels in order to become the me I
imagine? Was I flying not falling
between the coconut matting and the
secretive, slithery fear of strange bed;
that puffed-up pink, obnoxious eiderdown?
The music holds me in a space where my
memories hover between and between.