Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
The layout of the Japan Society is furnished with a gently babbling waterfall and a serene quality. This space makes for the ideal setting of artist Mariko Mori’s current exhibition “Rebirth,” a meditation on consciousness, death, and rebirth.
Mori’s 1990s work is marked by her ability to immerse herself in the external world. In performance pieces Play with Me and Subway she stood in public spaces in Tokyo respectively dressed as a cyborg and an alien, toying with the concept of being an outsider. “Rebirth,” her first show in New York in 10 years, reverses the object of immersion from the artist to the viewer, through three sections: Origin, Rupture and Rebirth.
The themes of “Rebirth” are weighty and most likely impossible quandaries to tackle, and while her execution of them is aesthetically pretty, a few pieces left us wanting more. The entry installation Transcircle 1.1 was inspired by the ancient beliefs of the Jōmon people, who believed that death and rebirth were circular states of being. Nine lighted stones make up the installation in a sort of pastel Stone Henge, representing the eight planets and Pluto. In the dim room, beside an equally Zen pebble formation, the result is calming yet non-transformative.
Rupture is a vague reflection on harmony within nature. Eight circles are posted on a wall, representative of the stages of consciousness in Yogacara Buddhism. A futuristic and somewhat eerie voiceover plays in the background, espousing generalized ideas about the interconnectivity of human life, nature, and the cosmos.
Mori intends to complete site-specific outdoor installations on six continents, which mean to engage with the cyclical beauty of nature. Lighted pillars transform with the ocean tide, documented in a short video chronicling her mission.
White Hole is the most impressive of all the pieces. It spatially immerses you in a darkened room with a white light. A reversal of the traditional black hole that destroys everything it encounters, the white hole instead creates and gives life. The written explanation of this piece is sparse, but it is here where Mori gets closest to articulating her ambitious thesis. It is in this muted and peaceful space that the viewer is able to feel something and transcend.
“Rebirth” is at the Japan Society now through January 12.