Power of Ownership

Saturday, January 9, 2016, 6 pm

January 9 to February 5, 2016

Niwa’s works are performances that openly question meanings of ideas, objects, and situations usually in a socio-political context. His performances involve acts that radically play with signifiers of common practices under specific topics in society. The artist, accompanied by a person in charge of documentation, participates in an exchange with persons performing daily tasks and configures a manner of looking that points towards a rather comic and philosophical presentation. In his 2010 work, ‘Tossing socialists in the air in Romania’, the artist creates an unusual tableau by asking participants to engage in an activity that has no social significance. The idea is based on surveying the definition of socialism in a particular place, paired with the use of the act of “tossing” and what it connotes.

For his solo exhibition at 1335MABINI, Niwa explores the the function of language in the act of privately owning an object. The identifying stamp on an object that one deems valuable as to make it his own, is in this case, a specific owner’s name. Niwa reverses the idea, asking workers who embroider labels on certain products to put their names instead of the buyer’s. Changing the underlying construct of an existing social practice, the artist challenges a popular idea by introducing a new mode of experience.

This shifting of perspective is what characterizes Niwa’s art practice, as he navigates a physical reality through casual interventions that when seen initially, are trivial acts. It is this line of inquiry, of questioning meanings of gestures and historical fragments that describes the nature of the artist’s approach to performance.

Tokyo-based Yoshinori Niwa (b. 1982) graduated from Tama Art University’s Department of Moving Images and Performing Arts. Niwa’s socially and historically interventionist works, on the street and in other public spaces, experiment with actions and propositions involving mainly impossibility and exchange. In recent years Niwa has taken an interest in the history of communism and moved on to projects that explore the nature of national history, like attempting to pick up and toss local communist party members in Romania, in Tossing Socialists in the Air in Romania (2010) and Searching for Vladimir Lenin in the Apartments of Moscow (2012). Selected group shows are Double Vision: Contemporary Art From Japan (Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Haifa Museum of Art, 2012), Aichi Triennale 2013 (Aichi Arts Center,etc 2013), Roppongi Crossing 2013: OUT OF DOUBT (Mori Art Museum, 2013). He has been nominated for Future Greats 2014 by ArtReview.