Ranging from reincarnation to cyber pop, Japanese artist Mariko Mori will address all manner of universal themes in this exhibition, which will consist of drawings, paintings, animations, videos, and enormous sculptures and installations. Mariko Mori creates artificial landscapes in which she often appears herself in various guises. She also puts modern science and technology to engaging use. A spectacular example is the large teardrop-shaped Wave-UFO, one of the highlights of the 2005 Venice Biennale, which also will go on show in the Groninger Museum.
Mori (Tokyo, 1967) belongs to the most important young artists of this moment. She studied at the Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo, after which she moved to London to study art at the Chelsea Art College in 1988. From 1992 onward, she subsequently followed an advanced educational programme for artists at the Whitney Museum in New York, the city where she still lives and works, in addition to her base in Tokyo.
The artist gained international renown in the mid-nineties with her striking multimedia work that consists of staged photography, 3-D video and installations. The contrast between Utopia and reality is the focus of much of her work.
Mori makes use of elements from both Japanese and Western art history, which she then combines with influences from modern popular culture, design, fashion, music, manga, and science fiction. This has culminated in works such as the large and spectacular architectonic installation entitled WaveUfo (1999-2002). WaveUfo is a wonderfully hybrid object, machine and sculpture all at the same time. It represents the synthesis between the various categories of travel: three-dimensional, spiritual, and temporal. The visitor is invited to enter the WaveUfo to make a mental journey in which the brain waves of the travellers are realistically reproduced and are a component of a vision-like computer animation. WaveUfo will be on show in the Groninger Museum.
In her early work (mid-nineties), Mori was the main figure in her own work. Dressed in bizarre fantasy outfits, she placed herself in various roles against the background of metropolitan Tokyo.
After this period, Mori presented photos and videos as a kind of fashionable stylized spiritual entity. Floating above water or in a cave, she seems to wish to lead the viewer along the path to enlightenment. A major work from this period is the photographic work Kumano (1997-1998) which is also on display in the exhibition. This work and the series entitled Esoteric Cosmos (1996-1998) mark this spiritual turnaround. Influenced by Japanese religions such as Shinto and Buddhism, and motivated by the renewed Western quest for spirituality, Mori realized several striking installations in this context, thus marking a new phase in her artistic profession.
A significant part of the exhibition deals with Mori's search for the cosmological experience of our forefathers. For this purpose, she visited and documented all kinds of megalithic monuments in both Japan and Scotland. These formed the basis for photographs and a series of ultra-high-tech installations. These works, which continuously change colour, such as Transcircle (2004), are a present-day translation of their ancient models. In the same way as megaliths and stone circles were used to make time tangible, these installations react to certain events in the universe via a special computer programme.
Mariko Mori has exhibited internationally. Her work is the collection of prestigious institutions such as the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris; Israel Museum, Tel-Aviv; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Prada Foundation, Italy; The Los Angeles County of Museum Art; Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami.