Berlin-based Japanese multimedia artist Ink Agop‘s solo exhibition “Overlooking I” at SomoS Art House is founded on the performances she developed and recorded during her 2014-2015 ComPeung Artist-in-Residency at Chiang Mai, Thailand, on the theme of Shamanism. This project cumulates in the “Overlooking I” installation, consisting of video projection and kinetic sculptures made out of organic materials collected by Agop from nature. In Agop’s distinct contemporary artistic interpretation, the shaman can represent a sibylline figure of healing, but also a trickster, performer, clown, poet, or prostitute.
Agop’s highly personal and instantly recognizable artistic approach reveals the collective and ritualistic behaviors that transcend the self and unite us all across time and space.
Opening: Thursday, February 25 2016, 6pm with live performance by Mieko Suzuki.
Fotos: Ala hmedy, Ink Agop, SomoS
Ink Agop: Overlooking I
Exhibition Statement by Justin Ross
February 2016, SomoS Art House presents Ink Agop: Overlooking I. The solo exhibition is Agop’s first since returning from her 2015 ComPeung residency in Chiang Mai, Thailand and combines the opportunity to see her latest video work, the result of an introspective journey that led her through the remotest villages in the region, with a revisited look at video and installations created both in Thailand and her home in Berlin. Taken as a whole, these works speak to her unique ability to harmoniously represent apparent opposites such as Shintoism and rope bondage, and concepts such as isolation and unity.
This complex balance is achieved through a highly personal process that involves a total transmutation of the self into an ‘ur-self’, an essential and limitless version of the self that is at once unique and innate. The result of this ritualistic transformation returns one to a ‘natural state’ in the sense that the subconscious is primal and instinctive and even animalistic. It is in this uninhibited and unfettered state that Agop records herself, watched from above in an intimate yet omniscient perspective in “there and here 2,” a work that required her to journey far into the jungle in Thailand to record. The body paint and headdress that adorn Agop during this process are representative of a universal urge that Agop recognizes for us to connect with our more primitive state. It is the result of her intense study of shamanism and personal encounters with distinct aboriginal groups in remote villages. Still, it is neither an appropriation, or a purely symbolic representation. Instead, it can be seen as a synthesis of these accumulated experiences and wisdom that Agop has personalized and reinterpreted.
Agop first embodied this state during a previous residency in Thailand in 2014. It was here that she created another work on video to represent her pursuit of the spiritual elements that unite us as human and as animals to become closer to nature. This kinetic video installation combines contemporary video presentation with ancient techniques and salvaged materials to create a spectral vision of this same self. A simple rotating motor transforms the natural materials into a three-dimensional screen that hosts the figure which appears to hover in space as it moves, bends, and flows. Without the spinning frameworks composed natural elements of wood and rope, the image would not exist, mirroring our own dependence on and inextricable connection with nature.
Nature as both mirror and screen returns in the third work on display, simply titled “mirror.” Wood, stone, and rope are suspended ominously above a resting pool of water on which a flickering video is projected. The fragility and tension of this apparatus is created using a rope bondage technique called ‘kinbaku’ that Agop studied in her native Japan. A drip of water solemnly disrupts the still water at regular intervals, interrupting the picture and acting as a meditative reminder of the power of nature.
A sincere reverence for all things natural is at the heart of these three works and relates heavily to Agop’s cultural heritage in the Japanese Shinto religion. In Shinto, as in many polytheistic religions and rituals practiced across the globe, humans are viewed as equivalent beings in a total system in which animals and even natural objects are deified. It is from this perspective that Agop accomplishes the difficult task of fusing two seemingly disparate subjects: new media and video with indigenous ritualistic practices and the primitive self.
A hallmark of Agop’s highly personal and instantly recognizable artistic approach is the implementation of an insightful range of techniques from references to early cinematic presentations of the Zoetrope to the latest drone technology that housed the camera used to record herself in “there and here 2.” Agop embraces new technologies, but rather than relying on technique itself, she fuses and blends them with organic materials. With these unusual combinations of the natural world and new media Agop offers an an alternative, and possibly even an antidote to our high-tech world.