~BYE BYE KITTY !!!
for sure I saw that big write-up in this weekend’s NEW YORK TIMES on the big ‘blockbuster’ show that just opened (MARCH 18, 2011) at the Japan Society entitled: ‘BYE BYE KITTY !!!!’.
I dunno, but I think we must be living in amazingly powerful times for the art and the real world to come down together – with such force. and in New York, no less. my favorite art town. not LA. not London. not Paris.
smack down upfront & street-smart in gritty New York City.
had they produced this show any later – and missed getting it up before the catastrophic events of last week – of course it would have been canceled or censored. the person who thought up the title would have been fired. but what can they do now – but be amazed, along with the rest of us.
‘BYE BYE KITTY’ – more like, BYE BYE KITTY – WIPE-OUT. Oh my lordy.
and is it possible – I’m thinking, yes. that it is the lightning speed of the internet and its often irreverent, snarky snarly scribblers – that has contributed to the popularity of such punchy titles ? that are fun – if you don’t really think about the real meanings. and consequences . . . amid the shocking immediacy of this one.
which translates as: DEATH TO CUTE & INNOCENCE. DEATH TO CHILDHOOD HAPPY. AS WE KNEW IT – PRE-JAPAN 2011.
it’s almost supernatural.
timing wise: maybe it is – supernatural. the stuff myths are made of – centuries down the road.
not to forget that Japanese culture itself, has a very long, ancient and rich tradition of ghosts, goblins, witches, fortune tellers, warriors and shamans – in short: eerie goings on – all the way back to day one ?
one has to stop and give credit immediately to the show’s curator, DAVID ELLIOTT for his vision – !! – and title – that thrust the JAPAN SOCIETY – an institutional cultural & exhibition hall – into the excruciatingly precise pinpoint – where art and reality – became one.
and while a whole range of media personalities took some heat, if they were not downright right fired, for their irreverent tone on twitter regarding the catastrophic news when it first broke – here was this august institution – founded in 1907 – coming in – with such an audacious title – and end-of-the-world take.
really it’s quite astounding, and there was no denying what had already been put in motion.
smart cracks and all. it must be a huge shock for the administrators over there.
about: the JAPAN SOCIETY
GILBERT GOTTFRIED – VOICE OF THE AFLAC DUCK – NO MORE !!!/PHOTO: SYKES/AP and AFLAC
I mean, is the show’s title – ‘BYE BYE KITTY!!!’ – let alone its dire and graphic content (!!!) – any less shocking than what GILBERT GOTTFRIED twitted, I mean twittered – in complete 100% American wise-cracking idiocy – as the triple whammy – earthquake, tsunami, nuclear meltdown – disaster in Japan – crashed world headlines:
“I just split up with my girlfriend, but like the Japanese say, ‘They’ll be another one floating by any day'” !!
omg – he got canned. then if you look into it – surprise surprise, not – 1 in 4 Japanese households buys AFLAC insurance products and Japan represents 3/4 of their business !! no wonder he got the chop.
see: GILBERT GOTTFRIED FIRED AS THE VOICE OF THE AFLAC DUCK – FOR IRREVERENT TWITTER JOKES . . .
which just goes to show – yep. t-i-m-i-n-g is everything !!
YAMAGUCHI AKIRA, ‘Narita International Airport: Various Scenes of Airplanes, 2005’ at BYE BYE KITTY!!! – JAPAN SOCIETY.
THE FRONT PAGE – THE WEEKEND ARTS – THE NEW YORK TIMES – THIS WEEKEND/FRI MARCH 18, 2011.
the NEW YORK TIMES titled their review of the show: ‘ANXIETY ON THE FAULT LINE’ !! – what a metaphor – !!
talk about trying to straddle the uncomfortable line of when tastefulness meets the rudeness of reality – head-on.
it was up to HOLLAND COTTER to maintain the standard New York Times chit-chat casual – as opposed to heavy and dour – arts coverage that had somehow this weekend come to feast at a head-on collision – a delicate balancing act, no doubt. esp considering the dark futuristic tone, and grim imagery of the work itself, never mind the grimace-inducing no-holds bared title.
‘BYE BYE KITTY’ – indeed.
wow. they couldn’t have wished upon a star and got it – better.
KOHEI NAWA, ‘PixCell – Elk No. 2’, taxidermied (Elk) specimen covered with translucent plastic globes . . . in ‘BYE BYE KITTY’. PHOTO CREDIT: OZIER MUHAMMEAD/THE NEW YORK TIMES
. . . good bye, Hello Kitty – hello Nuclear mutation ?
the whole title of the show is: ‘Bye Bye Kitty!!! Between Heaven and Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art’ – go figure.
it is up at the JAPAN SOCIETY – 333 EAST 47th STREET – thru JUNE 12, 2011.
like I said, it was up to HOLLAND COTTER to do the dirty deed. the review. he did a pretty good job. he stayed pretty calm. it was an awkward position for an (institutional) arts critic to be in – the wipe-out of cute !!
when it had – just – actually happened . . .
” . . a piquant exhibition of dark-minded work at Japan Society . . was conceived as a sharp counterweight to the cult of cuteness – kawaii – that has been Japan’s dominant aesthetic for decades. No one of course could have known that the show’s images of fragility and decay would end up being seen in the light of real-life disaster . . . .
Some people have long viewed the cuteness craze, exemplified in the “Hello Kitty” commercial logo – a blank-faced cartoon cat with a bow in her hair – and filtering into the work of art-stars like TAKASHI MURAKAMI, as a symptom of cultural malaise, a stress reaction on the part of a nation living with chronic uncertainty.
As DAVID ELLIOTT, the independent curator who organized the show, writes in the catalog, ‘In a densely urbanized, highly stratified society situated in the heart of an earthquake zone, the fear that the worst could easily happen lies at the back of many minds’.
By that view, images associated with very early childhood, a stage of life traditionally free of pressures in Japan, feed into a desire for communal security. And feel-good art, of the kind produced by artists like Mr. Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara is yet another way to market that sensation.”
(I think I would not be alone in questioning that specific artist-choice conclusion – there is also – and always was something too over-the-top and waiting for the other shoe to drop – in all of Japan’s ‘cute’ art, but esp in his two references – but it’s a good point to beg further discussion . . . )
Mr. Holland continues:
“In a way utterly foreign to the plastic Hello Kitty universe, much of what’s in the Japan Society show is, for better and worse, about organic change. You see this in the scarred faces of MOTOHIKO ODANI’S wooden Noh masks, and in KOHEI NAWA’S ‘PixCell-Elk No. 2’ – a taxidermied specimen covered with translucent plastic globes that look luminous but also pathological, like growths from genetic experiments or excessive radiation.”
“Not everything is wonderful. . . But a lot of what’s here carries a strain of critical fierceness and existential seriousness that has been absent from Japanese work for some time. And with the hellish natural and nuclear catastrophe Japan is now suffering, this is likely to be the way at least some new art will continue to go.”
read his whole article: ANXIETY ON THE FAULT LINE/HOLLAND COTTER/THE NEW YORK TIMES/ MARCH 18, 2011
Personally – I’d slightly disagree with his projection . . .
I’d venture to say, just off the top of my head – along with art about ‘mutation’ – and no ‘cute’ in sight – I bet a new folk art emerges. quilt-making, shelter-making, and a return to simple folk art, like carved ‘icons’ – such as totems and masks – as well as communal survival narratives, such as renewed theater fables. and maybe, just maybe in the face of so much tragedy – there will even be – a return to cute – !! – from the grassroots-up art vs. commercial-driven art.
cute art – maybe even with smiley faces this time – you know real home-made dolls – instead of those blank ones – with no mouths. I mean, looking back those HELLO KITTY cats – were kinda scary. cute but scary. but maybe that was their wide appeal – weren’t they having a hey day – waiting for it all to end. join in the fun. life. it’s all one big fairy tale . . . ca 1976.
so, watch out – new generation – HELLO Mr. MUTATION – coloring books – ala KUMI MACHIDA – coming your way soon . . . I don’t think so. but hey, the ways things are going, maybe its not so far off.
MOTOHIKO ODANI, wooden Noh masks in ‘BYE BYE KITTY!!!’
PHOTO: YAMAMOTO GENDAI/THE NEW YORK TIMES
. . . . a (nuke) mutated – Noh mask ??!!
KUMI MACHIDA, ‘Relation’ – in ‘BYE BYE KITTY!!!’
PHOTO: KUMI MACHIDA/COURTESY: THE NEW YORK TIMES
and the nuke-mutated babies – of the future ??? – new age coloring books – here we come !!
KUMI MACHIDA (1970 – ), ‘Visitor’, 2004 – in ‘BYE BYE KITTY!!!’/IMAGE COURTESY: JAPAN SOCIETY
unbelievably there was an exhibition-linked event, titled ‘Cordoning the Child, Killing the Kawaii’ – (Kawaii – meaning cute . . and over-the-top innocent and happy !!) scheduled for yesterday, Sat March 19, 2011 – a discussion by the show’s curator DAVID ELLIOTT – which addressed this topic: “In recent years, Japanese contemporary art has too often confined itself to the restrictive hierarchies of the antique, the childish or the ‘cute’.”
“THIS talk …. examines the ways many young Japanese artists have confronted cultural stereotypes, digesting, and re-imaging tradition in a challenging and at times visceral exposition of contemporary experience.”
BOY – did they get a wake-up call or, what ?
I guess the odds were running out and maybe – they just saw it coming.
reality bite: JAPAN-style. or what.