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Tomoko Takahashi - Introspective Retrospective - De La Warr Pavilion - Bexhill-on-sea - 3 July - 12 September 2010

"Tomoko Takahashi has established her reputation through the playful recycling of the detritus of everyday life into art." [1]

This is a landmark solo show, and one in which Takahashi's concerns with technology as one of her main, although subtle, themes can be seen to be part of the body of her work.

From the array of clocks, ticking quietly, although in a chorus, in Clockwork @ De La Warr Pavilion (1998 - 2010) which 'bring to life' the detritus which surrounds them (as well as the use of gaffer tape as a formal element to describe the viewer's walkway through the installation) to the more recent Paper Work @ the Seaside (March - May 2010) in which a large 'crate' creates a space which you can walk (bending over) into, that houses a photocopy machine with which Takahashi has obviously created photocopies of clocks and pages from manga comics that were then pasted to the walls.

This interest can of course be traced back to work like Desk-Top Garden Shed Sculpture (2000) which could be viewed as an ironic comment on domestic computer use. The combination of elements creates a chaotic amalgamation of items from a desk-top mixed with the debris from a garden shed.

There is an essential dialogue in the work which is that between the continuous aspects of life: electricity, clocks (digital and battery powered), computers; and those of the discontinuous: detritus, found/discarded items, the event - as in, for example, Mini Installation : Introductory Japanese (2001), or Without Parade (2000) - a film of a ticker tape parade without the parade.

In this respect the work explores different media and structures, although the composite part is clearly important to Takahashi. For example, how was the ticker tape produced? The work, though, still retains common threads.

In the installation Clockwork the detritus includes cigarette butts, paper, crayons, machines, tools, a broken chair, a desk. There is a broken digital clock which cycles through numbers very quickly. There is the formal or gestural use of many discontinuous elements, including saws and other tools.

There is a Slide show of earlier works, from student works like B&W (1994) where she arranged black tools and other objects in an installation, and Company Deal (1997) where she arranged the detritus created by office staff within their office building itself.

Particularly strong are the sculptures, including Spillican (2000) which largely consists of an ironing board, bicycle tyres, saws, knives and toys. One of the toys has a light inside connecting what appears at first glance a discontinuous sculpture to the continuity of electricity. This kind of contrast helps to create the humour in the work, and there is a lot of humour in what Takahashi does.

There is also a kind of feminine aesthetic, where the works aren't objectifiable but incredibly chaotic visually. This considerable feminine perspective, which asks that the works be looked at in detail as well as affecting the viewer with overwhelming 'data', objects or images, as in Abstract No.1 (2007), where photographs are collaged for effect on a large scale, also recalls the formal aspects of Modernism.

It is interesting that Takahashi exhibits her net based work on computers in the gallery space. Of course the computers are 'old' and the work: Word Perhect (2000) constructs an alternative computer interface. It is in this way that different media are integrated within the exhibition, and addresses what each medium is good for.


Sarah Thompson 2.9.10

[1] Exhibition signage, De La Warr Pavilion

view Word Perhect at: