Takashi Murakami: Second Mission Project ko2

Sep 17–Nov 30, 2000


P.S.1 proudly unveil Second Mission Project ko2 (SMP ko2) in its newly completed entirety. The three-part sculptural installation by Takashi Murakami depicts a life-sized adolescent girl transforming, and taking off as an airplane. All three stages of the “transformation” process are being shown together for the first time as a long-term installation at P.S.1. Second Mission Project ko2 is curated by Klaus Biesenbach, P.S.1 Senior Curator.

As a studio artist at P.S.1 in 1994-95, Murakami created and exhibited menacing inflatable giants. These creatures were variations on Mr. DOB, a cartoon character patented by Murakami and developed into several bodies of work including a line of Mr. DOB products. Murakami’s manipulation and critique of mass-market appeal runs throughout his work including SMP ko2, which is also available as a small do-it-yourself model kit, bridging the gap between “high” and “low” art.

In addition to being an artist and curator, Murakami is a scholar of contemporary Japanese culture. In 1986, Takashi Murakami became the first person to receive a Doctorate in Nihon-ga from The Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. Nihon-ga was a style of painting created and sanctioned by the Japanese government in the Meiji Era (late 19th century). Nihon-ga fuses traditional Japanese subject matter with Western painting styles.

Nihon-ga continues to play a strong role in Murakami’s exacting compositions and the precision of his painting technique. There is a simulated freedom in the expressive gestures of Milk and Cream, (both 1998) which appear to be splash paintings, when on closer inspection they are meticulously rendered. These paintings depict an expulsion of body fluids and compliment two of his earlier life-sized manga-inspired sculptures: Lonesome Cowboy and Hiropon. Hiropon (Heroine) is also the name of Murakami’s “factory” that created the figures in cooperation with master sculptor BOME.

Murakami’s references are manga (Japanese comics) and anime (“Japanimation”). The superconsumers of these addictive artforms are collectively known as otaku, or “geeks.” In recent works, Murakami subverts the seductiveness of manga and anime imagery to create aggressive super-human adolescents. Second Mission Project ko2 is a continuation of Murakami’s critical look at Japanese otaku culture. Although Western audiences may not recognize his gesture as scandalous, to inflate and further exaggerate the sexuality of manga characters unmasks the perversity of this new Japanese otaku aesthetic. In this way, the triumphant super-girl of Second Mission Project ko2 subverts and conquers the voyeuristic nature of otaku fantasy, by actualizing the fantasy in the extreme.

The newly completed phase of SMP ko2 shows a girl morphing into an airplane. Her explosive takeoff happens against a one of Murakami’s reflective painted environments. Speaking of PKO2, the prototype for SMPko2, Murakami states, “PKO2 originally started as a project, by expressing a girl valkyrically transforming into an airplane to somehow define a kind of current Japanese sexual complex, which equals a girl, which equals an airplane...”

Second Mission Project ko2 is courtesy of Blum & Poe, Santa Monica, CA.



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