In his compelling and challenging body of work, Meiro Koizumi (born Gunma, Japan, 1976) examines a range of complex issues: power dynamics on scales both familial and national; the tension between staged and authentic emotion; and the conflict between duty and desire. Implicating himself, his performers, and the viewer, Koizumi’s emotionally manipulative videos straddle the shifting boundary between the comic and the cruel. His projects draw equally on art history and the history of Japanese film, and often conceal a dark and cynical core beneath a seemingly ordinary surface.
Human Opera XXX, Koizumi’s breakthrough project of 2007, mercilessly probes the art of interruption, as the artist disrupts his subject’s attempt to relate a tragic story with increasingly absurd requests. My Voice Would Reach You (2009) collapses performance, documentary, and fiction in extended phone calls that are not what they seem. Defect in Vision (2011) investigates blindness: philosophical, figurative, and physiological. Set in the last days of World War II, after the formation of kamikaze (“divine wind”) air suicide units, it features two actors talking, over a meal, about the war. The scene is repeated, and each iteration reveals new information about the setting, the context, the performers and their condition, and, ultimately, the meaning of the conversation. The scene is set in the historical past, but its evocation of impending catastrophe and self-sacrifice resonates with the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which was unfolding in Japan as Koizumi made this work.
The exhibition is organized by Sarah Suzuki, Associate Curator, Department of Prints and Illustrated Books.