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A woman wearing all pink sits on a palette carrying a large block of rose quartz. Another palette...
From Mika Tajima
A woman wearing all pink sits on a palette carrying a large block of rose quartz. Another palette...
Mika Tajima. Photo: Matt Dutile

Artist Chat with Mika Tajima

Hill Art Foundation: How did you approach organizing an exhibition of your work at the Hill Art Foundation? How did the architecture of the space inform the process?

Mika Tajima: Following my recent show at Pace in January, I wanted to continue expanding on the questions of regulation, control, and the shaping of ourselves in a world increasingly influenced and mitigated by technology and optimization.The exhibition features painting, sculpture, and installation that employ various motifs, production methods, and materials to represent our physicality and identities in formation and transformation, shaping and being shaped. The architecture of HAF gives multiple vantage points, connecting the underlying concepts of disparate works like a constellation.Taking advantage of the multiple spaces and views, I also created several site specific wall installations throughout the galleries that use the recurring motif of a jacuzzi jet nozzle, a symbol of invisible pressure. The wall installations titled Ulterior serve as a conceptual connective tissue between the spaces and transform the building into a diffused body, much like our partitioned and abstracted identities and experiences through technology where we are everywhere and nowhere.

HAF: For the Super Natural library, you selected several books by philosophers such as Hannah Arendt, Catharine Malabou, and Judith Butler. For the publication accompanying your exhibition at the Foundation, you quoted extensively from Malabou and Butler’s writings on Hegel. How do these philosophers influence your practice?

MT: Malabou, Butler and Arendt’s work give me language to scaffold my ideas, especially in regards to being, becoming, what is natural, and what is freedom. I am also drawn to the metaphors in physics which I graft the metaphors of the physical world onto the social and the existential. Both philosophy and science have beautiful ways to express life in 4 dimensions.

HAF: In July, the Foundation will host a sound bath activation of Super Natural by the musician Daren Ho; you also formed and performed with the group New Humans. How do performance, sound, and music factor into your work?

MT: It is really a way to sensorially expand and spatialize the ideas. In a sense the artworks become experiences—the notion of communing physically or virtually is also using the idea of abstraction as a way to speak about the unknowable nature of humankind. It is impossible to fully contain an experience. You just have to be there to know.

HAF: Do you collect? What kind of work are you drawn to?

MT: I collect disparate works—from friends to artists I admire to ordinary ceramic vases for my ikebana practice. I am drawn to works that deliver an elegant, provocative first encounter, but linger in my psyche. Some examples include an elegantly ordered color key screen print by Renee Green, a stark, mysterious snapshot by Daido Moriyama, an uncanny upside-down flower sculpture by Tony Matelli, and numerous beautiful vases in unusual shapes.

HAF: The Hill Art Foundation champions artistic dialogue across mediums, styles, and time periods. Who is an artist—especially one you might not be immediately associated with—who inspires your work?

MT: There are a few: Vito Acconci, Charles Atlas, Sofu Teshigahara.

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