Fujiko Nakaya. Nebel Leben
Haus der Kunst, Munich
April 08 – July 31, 2022
“Fog makes visible things become invisible and invisible things – like wind -become visible”. Fujiko Nakaya. The ground-breaking artist Fujiko Nakaya (b. 1933, Sapporo, Japan) will be celebrated in the first comprehensive survey exhibition outside Japan at Haus der Kunst in Munich, curated by its Director Andrea Lissoni and curator Sarah Johanna Theurer, from 8 April -31 July 2022.
Nakaya’s fog sculptures have become synonymous with the artist, defying traditional conventions of sculpture by generating temporary, borderless transformations that physically engage the public. The ephemeral works envelop audiences in a disorientating, transcendent connection with the environment, changing at every moment depending on temperature, wind, and atmosphere. Driven by early ecological concerns, Nakaya’s work deals with pure water and air, mediums that have particular resonance in the face of the climate crisis.
Gaining prominence in the 1970s as a member of the collective Experiments in Arts and Technology (E.A.T.) founded by Robert Rauschenberg and Billy Klüver, Fujiko Nakaya became internationally renowned for her fog artworks, creating over 90 installations and performances all over the world. She has consistently collaborated with artists from a variety of genres, including architecture, music, dance, and light to express the protean nature of fog. From her rarely seen early paintings to her fog sculptures, including two new site-specific sculptures created especially for Haus der Kunst, along with single-channel videos, installations and documentation that reveal Nakaya’s cultural and social references, this experiential exhibition will offer an in-depth survey of over 100 works by one of Japan’s foremost artists.
Fujiko Nakaya became internationally renowned for her fog artworks, creating over 90 installations and performances all over the world. She has consistently collaborated with artists from a variety of genres, including architecture, music, dance, and light to express the protean nature of fog. From her rarely seen early paintings to her fog sculptures, including two new site-specific sculptures created especially for Haus der Kunst, along with single-channel videos, installations and documentation that reveal Nakaya’s cultural and social references, this experiential exhibition will offer an in-depth survey of over 100 works by one of Japan’s foremost artists.
The outside sculpture Munich Fog (Fogfall) on the eastside of Haus der Kunst as well as Munich Fog (Wave), is a new piece created for Haus der Kunst; conceived of as a performance in which fog, the space, and the public participate. Nakaya introduces water as a sculptural element and a metaphor for endless temporal processes to link material realities and media-generated illusions. Her cross-disciplinary approach also becomes evident in the titles of her fog works: the sequence of numbers designates the nearest weather station, whose data informs the preparatory planning of each work.
An entire room situates Nakaya’s work in a multiverse of historical events. It is dedicated to her early environmental awareness and the development of her work integrating aspects of both East Asian and Western art movements. The upstairs gallery provides further contextualization and presents a selection of educational science films produced by lwanami, a production company founded by the artist’s father, the physicist Ukichiro Nakaya. Alongside the artist’s early paintings and sketches, the room features documents from his research that have significantly influenced Fujiko Nakaya’s approach to the world, its matter, and its mediation.
Nakaya’s paintings and drawings are proof of a transformed way of seeing, informed by observation, which the artist describes as the underlying principle of both art and science. Akin to abstract landscapes, they trace the artist’s interest in cyclical processes of decay and renewal. The painted clouds and biomorphic forms constitute an essential link to Nakaya‘s moving image practice and her fog sculptures. The detailed observation of natural phenomena and seemingly small, everyday gestures plays a central role in Fujiko Nakaya’s oeuvre. Her videos often feature real-time recording and resemble experiments which challenge the patterns of perception. Nakaya used video as a means of subjective analytical documentation and direct communication. In addition to her video sculptures and installations the artist engaged in so-called “communication projects” in which she interviewed and documented local communities. In 1980, she co-founded the artist collective Video Hiroba and opened SCAN, the first gallery for video in Japan.
Adjacent galleries extend the exhibition through a film programme by lwanami, a film company founded by renowned scientist Ukichiro Nakaya (credited for making the first artificial snowflakes), who deeply inspired his daughter. Humbly committed to a dialogue between nature and culture, glaciologist Ukichiro Nakaya was also the visionary co-initiator of the pioneering documentary and educational film company lwanami Productions (1950). In collaboration with Harvard Film Archive a selection out of 4000 films by lwanami will be presented in the North gallery of Haus der Kunst. The program of 10 films represents a unique journey into Japan’s post-war landscape.
As one of the leading exhibitions in the new programming model at Haus der Kunst, Fujiko Nakaya’s work will be placed in direct relation to her social and cultural network. The coinciding exhibitions of the Japanese radical art collective Dumb Type, and the German artist and musician Carsten Nicolai, whose practice takes inspiration from the Zen gardens of Japan, will create new dialogues that foreground the pressing issues society faces today, such as sustainability, inclusion, science and nature.
Andrea Lissoni, Director of Haus der Kunst and curator of the exhibition: “Our programme for 2022 is all about dialogues and making connections. By bringing together the visual arts, performance, dance, moving images, music, and discursive practices we hope to redefine the public’s relationship with art as an immersive, participatory experience, and to transform the ways in which art history is considered.”