Tadashi Kawamata

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crossroads:
everyday life, history, mobility, modernity, urbanity
genre(subgenre):
Visual Arts (installation art)
region:
Asia, Eastern
country/territory:
Japan
created on:
September 29, 2009
last changed on:
Please note: This page has not been updated since October 5, 2009. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
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Tadashi Kawamata
Tadashi Kawamata (c) Thomas Eugster

Article

"I am like a Zugvogel"

From autumn to winter in 2009, strollers in the Tiergarten will make an unusual discovery: What are huts doing up in the trees? And so many of them? The wooden nests belong to the Berlin Tree House exhibition by Biennial artist Tadashi Kawamata. His site-specific constructs are a perfect fit for the lobby of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and its surroundings. They are an essential part of his multifaceted artistic practice:
Tadashi Kawamata, born in 1953 on the relatively sparsely populated island of Hokkaido in northern Japan, studied at the Tokyo University of Fine Art. As a 28-year-old graduate he was invited to exhibit in the Japanese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1982. Since then, his worldwide location-specific projects have taken him into the most diverse contexts: from New York´s Madison Square Park, to Tokyo´s outskirts, to a church in Kassel. During his painting studies, Kawamata at first used the canvas as a room divider. He applied it – literally in opposition to its intended use – as a three-dimensional medium. Eventually he removed the textile layer of the canvas so that only the wooden frame was left. Thus wood became a characteristic of his work. At first he placed his works within gallery interiors, but ultimately Kawamata conquered exterior spaces too. He breached spatial boundaries by allowing his installations to spill out of the windows and doors of the White Cube. Thus, at the Venice Biennale in 1982, Kawamata extended the Japanese Pavilion into the Venice Giardini with his wooden construction. He continued to develop this principle of re- and de-construction of historical architectural structures at the documenta 8 with "Destroyed Church" (1987) and "Toronto Project" (1989). At the documenta in Kassel he applied himself to the Garnisonskirche (Garrison Church) which was destroyed in WWII, and filled its ruined interior with a huge, ring-shaped wooden mesh.

Parallel to his building deconstructions, he developed projects that made reference to the makeshift housing of homeless people. He employed used materials such as wood and cardboard, to produce "Favela in Ottawa" (1991), "People’s Garden" (1992) at the documenta 9 in Kassel and "Sanatorium" (1994) in Tokyo, and relocated to the city outskirts. His examination of temporary forms of shelter is the result of his observations of everyday urban lifestyles and his interest in urban planning processes.

His bridge projects form a further strand of his work: In "Transfer" (1994), for the Centre de Création Contemporaine in Saché, "Work in progress" (1996-99) in Alkmaar, or "Mémoire en demeure" (2004-06) in Saint-Thélo, he used the bridge as a social catalyst in order to bring history back into the consciousness of the locals and visitors. However, all his projects absorb influences beyond him as an individual artist: collaborations and interactions with assistants, students or random passers-by form a central part of his location-specific working approach. "My practice of co-operation is somehow related to Toyota´s approach. They take care of the workers and are very good at organizing. They have developed their own methods of motivation. I think this is also very important in my work: I respect workers not just for their physical assistance, but also for their own ideas. Doing something together in this way suits my thinking and working style."

Different phases influence Kawamata´s local research: As a result of strolls through the local area, with the help of conversations with his assistants and literary or historical references, he accesses "the atmosphere of the place" in his field studies. Thus, a prolonged residence at the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in New York City was pivotal for the development of his "Tree Huts": On the streets of the metropolis he observed homeless people´s makeshift forms of shelter. But when he realized that his cardboard replicas were too fragile, he raised them into the trees. He thereby developed a double shelter strategy. He installed the non-accessible tree huts in Bonn (1999), in Trondheim (2007), in New York´s Madison Square Park (2008) and most recently in Berlin´s Haus der Kulturen der Welt (2009).

This choice of exhibition locations not only describes Tadashi Kawamata´s international radius, it also emphasizes the field of tension between his interest in shelter and housing forms and his own mobile restlessness: from his present work base in Paris he is continually undertaking journeys. "I am like a Zugvogel (migratory bird). Everybody used to call them nomads, but the word ´nomad´ is too particular. As a Zugvogel you stay there and you go away every season but you have to be back again."


From a conversation between Tadashi Kawamata and the author in August 2009.
Author: Christine Nippe

Works

International Collection of Contemporary Art. 5th Edition

Exhibition / Installation,
2009
Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, Poland

Unbuilt Roads

Exhibition / Installation,
2009
e-flux, New York City, USA

Tadashi Kawamata: Walkway

Exhibition / Installation,
2008
Solo show. Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan

Tree Huts

Exhibition / Installation,
2008
Kamel Mennour, Paris, France

Tree Huts

Exhibition / Installation,
2008
Project.Madison Square Park, New York City, USA

La Citta Che Sale

Exhibition / Installation,
2007
Museo d´Arte Contemporanea Sannio, Benevento, Italy

In the Mirror of Uncertainty

Exhibition / Installation,
2006
Galerie Grita Insam, Vienna, Austria

Tadashi Kawamata – Détour des tours

Exhibition / Installation,
2005
Solo show. Le Creux de l´enfer, Thiers, France

Inauguración

Exhibition / Installation,
2004
Solo show. Gianni Giacobbi Arte Contemporaneo, Palma de Mallorca,

Tadashi Kawamata – Rich and Archive

Exhibition / Installation,
2003
Solo show. Stiftung Museum Schloss Moyland, Moyland/Bedburg-Hau, Germany

Architecturas Excéntricas

Exhibition / Installation,
2003
Solo show. Koldo Mitxelena Kulturanea, San Sebastian, Spain

Coal Mine Tagawa (1996 - )

Exhibition / Installation,
2002
Project. Jodoji Park, Tagawa, Japan

Observation Balcony

Exhibition / Installation,
2002
Project. Hôtel des Arts, Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Reconstruction

Exhibition / Installation,
2002
Project. Warsaw, Poland

Shanghai Biennale

Exhibition / Installation,
2002
Shanghai, China

Busan Biennale

Exhibition / Installation,
2002
Busan, Republic of Korea

Strom

Exhibition / Installation,
2002
Solo show. The Hague Centre for Visual Arts, The Hague, The Netherlands

Ideas for Projects

Exhibition / Installation,
2002
Annely Juda Fine Art, London, UK

Daily News

Exhibition / Installation,
2001
Project. Art Tower Mito Contemporary Art Centre, Mito/Tokyo, Japan

Sur la Voie

Exhibition / Installation,
2001
Project. Évreux, France

6th Kitakyushu Biennale

Exhibition / Installation,
2001
Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art, Kitakyushu, Japan

Architectural Association School of Architecture

Exhibition / Installation,
2001
Solo show. London, UK

Sert Gallery

Exhibition / Installation,
2001
Harvard University Art Museums, UK

Hillside Gallery and Hillside Terrace A

Exhibition / Installation,
2001
Solo show. Tokyo, Japan

Centre for Contemporary Art

Exhibition / Installation,
2001
Solo show. Ujadzowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland

Art Tower Mito

Exhibition / Installation,
2001
Solo show. Mito/Tokyo, Japan

Matsunoyama Project

Exhibition / Installation,
2000
Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, Niigate, Japan

Vacant Lot

Exhibition / Installation,
2000
Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Toyota, Japan

Work in Progress

Exhibition / Installation,
1999
Project. Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Toyota City, Japan

Work in Progress in Zug (1996-1999)

Exhibition / Installation,
1999
Project. Zug, Switzerland

Kunsthaus Zug

Exhibition / Installation,
1999
Solo show. Zug, Switzerland

Ayers Gallery

Exhibition / Installation,
1999
Solo show. Atlantic Center for the Arts, Florida, USA

Toyota Municipal Museum of Art

Exhibition / Installation,
1999
Solo show. Toyota City, Japan

Zeit Wenden

Exhibition / Installation,
1999
Bonn, Germany

Art Focus 3

Exhibition / Installation,
1999
Israel Festival, Jerusalem, Israel

Skulptur-Biennale im Münsterland 1999

Exhibition / Installation,
1999
Münster, Germany

Ghost Town

Exhibition / Installation,
1998
Art Pace Foundation for Contemporary Art, San Antonio, USA

Tokyo Project – New Housing Plan

Exhibition / Installation,
1998
Project. Tokyo, Japan

Inside Site, Outside Site

Exhibition / Installation,
1998
Project. Minerva 200, Groningen, Germany

Garden Sheds

Exhibition / Installation,
1998
Project. 11th Biennale of Sydney, Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, Australia

Haus der Kunst

Exhibition / Installation,
1998
Project. Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, Munich, Germany

Les Chaises de traverse

Film / TV,
1998
Project. Saint-Livier, Metz and Sinagogue de Delme, France

Working Progress: Boat Travelling

Exhibition / Installation,
1998
Project. Alkmaar, Zaandam, Purmerend, Haarlem and Beverwijk, The Netherlands

Working Progress: Boat Travelling

Exhibition / Installation,
1997
Project. Alkmaar and Münster, The Netherlands/Germany

Le Passage de chaises

Exhibition / Installation,
1997
Project. Chapelle Saint-Louis de la Salpêtriere, Paris, France

Relocation

Exhibition / Installation,
1997
Project. Annely Juda Fine Art and Serpentine Gallery, London, UK

Boat Travelling

Exhibition / Installation,
1997
Project. Münster, Germany

Annely Juda Fine Art

Exhibition / Installation,
1997
Solo show. London, UK

Serpentine Gallery

Exhibition / Installation,
1997
Solo show. London, UK

Field Work in Hannover

Exhibition / Installation,
1997
Solo show. Sprengel Museum, Hannover , Germany

Tagama Museum of Art

Exhibition / Installation,
1997
Solo show. Tagawa, Japan

Unimplosive Art

Exhibition / Installation,
1997
Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy

Kunsthaus Zug

Exhibition / Installation,
1996
Solo show. Zug, Switzerland

Projects

This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

Frenetic Homeland

Art, Literature, Music

(08 October 09 - 01 October 10)
images
Tadashi Kawamata, Berlin Tree Huts