Tomoko Takahashi

Artvehicle 10/Review

8th February 2007 — 10th March 2007

Half way down the pencil-scrawled invite card to Tomoko Takahashi's show at Hales Gallery she has written, 'the clear aim for the show is not to buy things, try to make things out of my/our belongings.' It goes on to say, 'so, one part will be non-sellable installation (NOT to be sold, but could be given)'. She has written on the entrance wall that there will be a 'TakeAway@Hales' between the 7th - 10th March. During this time we are invited to return and help deconstruct the installation (in designated areas only) and 'take away' bits that apparently will magically lose their value that can only be active in a 'gallery context.'

Heidegger's notion of 'enframing,' where we only view objects around us in terms of their usefulness to us, is interesting to note at this point, because he wanted us to find a way to view objects as 'things' and that art is the ideal way of revealing their 'thingness' The point being that by 'art' we are removing their functionality: at the close of Tomoko Takahashi's show we are being encouraged to do the reverse. In the first of 3 spaces the installation you encounter (titled 'Left Over') is shrouded in darkness, not very good darkness though, because light bleeds in from the other 2 spaces that lead off at opposing ends of the room. There are plastic wind-up torches to illuminate 'Left Over' and when you flick it on the first thought is 'Oh, its those bits again.' (I assume the title refers to what remained from previous installations.) Bits of scalectrix trax, computer monitors, toys and toys, bits of scaffolding , musical instrument carcasses and on and on.

The installation is laid out across the floor in an ordered sprawl and edges up the wall toward the ceiling with the help of some liberal staple-gunning. The darkness of the space does 2 things: Firstly it gives the impression that this is an eerie, uncomfortable room, maybe belonging to some crazed caretaker. 'Why would anyone collect these things?' 'Why pile them up and arrange them in that nonsensical way?' There are knives (household) and saws stuck and wedged into a wall frame where a wall panel has been unscrewed and moved a couple of feet to the left (she has written 'Take this one off' on it). There is no menace to how they are embedded in the frame though, and similarly the removal of a couple of sheets of hard board is no Matta-Clark. Secondly, is that, with the aid of this torch you are forced to pin-point certain areas or individual objects with precision. Your eye won't wander over the detritus and you can contemplate on why bottles of white spirit, meths and glue are placed near to an A4 sheet on which is printed 'Lets go before the Bad Bob comes squawked Nobby.'

There is a regimented path through this installation into the second room, which is lit, and consists of photos, negatives, photo envelopes and boxes for files. The photos are like a flood over the floor; all face down; the previous room looks like the jetsam that would wash up on a beach over the course of the 20th century...

There is a black cat-walk through the centre of the space and the 2 large black panels on the walls (Abstract No. 1 and Abstract No. 2) are collaged over with more photos. On one the photos are flat over the surface and show other installations, in her studio, other galleries and some from this one. The second panel has curled photos in relief and reads from left to right starting with photos of her text, of cassette tape, to more installation shots onto blackness to some that say 'STOP' and finally to the last one 'OUT'. The third space is way out of bounds for the Take Away as this is where you could buy some Takahashi. It contains a small sculpture (chairs, toys, bucket) some photos and some pencil drawings.

We are told that the 'free' stuff has no value, but we are invited into the 'showroom' where we can buy artworks, not 'temporary' artworks. But who wants 'valueless' bits of wood and metal that is left over if it has no value artistically or commercially? I find it interesting to consider this exhibition in terms of the gift economy and the market economy: we are being told to treat it as both, but how can you walk away with the 'gift' of one of these objects and not be tempted by the all-pervasive eBay, or to tell guests to your home that, yes, these scissors and that light bulb are genuine Tomoko Takahashi's. However, I do hope that nothing is left over.


Hales Gallery
Tea Building
7 Bethnal Green Road
London E1 6LA

Wednesday-Saturday, 11am-6pm

Tomoko Takahashi —  Tomoko Takahashi  Abstract No 1 & Abstract
            No 2, 2007  Installation at Hales Gallery

Tomoko Takahashi
Abstract No 1 & Abstract No 2, 2007
Installation at Hales Gallery