Tabaimo. Clue to Utsushi

13 Jan 2018 – 25 Feb 2018


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James Cohan will present, Clue to Utsushi, a new exhibition by Japanese artist Tabaimo.


The exhibition will feature four works previously presented in her 2016 show Utsutsushi Utsushi at the Seattle Art Museum and a new work, Shinju Trail, created for this show.  Clue to Utsushi is the fourth exhibition of Tabaimo’s work at James Cohan.

Tabaimo creates complex video works and spatial interventions that observe and incisively critique contemporary Japanese society.  Her works are aesthetic feats, but a distinctly sinister ambience lurks under the technical polish of her videos. By conjuring this ominous mood, Tabaimo captures the tension between appearance and reality, revealing the imperfection of human perception.  Clue to Utsushi  further examines the idiosyncrasies of perception through the uniquely Japanese idea of utsushi – an artistic concept that has its origins in the pre-modern era.   

The nearest English translation of utsushi is “copy” or “reproduction” but utsushi surpasses either.  True utsushi simultaneously captures the essentialness and spirit of an existing work but avoids exact reproduction.  Utsushi insists on its own originality but acquires a deeper significance through proximity to an archetype. This expectation allows a new generation of artists to manifest their own creativity while learning from past masters. Initially skeptical of utsushi as an aesthetic practice, Tabaimo has come to regard it as an important binding agent, connecting artists and their ideas across long spans of time.  She also employs utsushi to probe discourses of originality/authenticity and viewer discernment. 

Exhibiting artists



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