mh RESIDENCY fall #02

AKIKO ICHIKAWA

OCTOBER 5 – NOVEMBER 4, 2018
OPEN STUDIO | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 6-8 PM & SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 3-6 PM  


I build something up by disturbing something (destruction-structure-construction). A system became necessary, how else could I see more concentrated-ly, find some interest, continue, go on at all? Contemplation had to be interrupted by action as a means of accepting anything among everything.
—Hanne Darboven

mh PROJECT nyc is pleased to present Akiko Ichikawa’s installation Sometimes They Listen, her first room-sized artwork in New York since 2000, through November 4, 2018.

If the fourth wall is a performer’s interaction with their viewers, what would it mean to break the first wall, say, the sources of the “stuff” in our contemporary lives? Since July 2018, Akiko Ichikawa has been collecting all of the unrecyclable, nonbiodegradable material (usually plastic), that envelopes the food, beauty, household, office, and other products she buys to maintain her life and art practice. One part pop self-portraiture, the work also borrows Andy Warhol’s idea of becoming the machine that makes art. Ichikawa has been writing to all of the manufacturers/distributors (some outside the U.S.) of these goods, asking them to replace their current packaging, performatively pushing a polemic via the recently-lost craft of personally-produced mailed correspondence while providing a social service. The UN recently released a report that describes the likelihood of a climate genocide scenario in 12 years if the major world societies continue on their current course. In Sometimes They Listen, Ichikawa uses art to shed journalistic light, as in the work of Hans Haacke, but instead of New York City’s real estate holdings, it’s the presence of U.S. cities and towns most Americans have never heard of, or which states produce the most amount of this kind of trash. By incorporating the trash from her own life, Ichikawa also highlights the feminine realm of the personal, aligning her work with the anti-capitalist threads in recent American feminist art history, as evidenced in the work of Mierle Laderman Ukeles and Barbara Kruger. Using detritus and direct action as material, Ichikawa, who has always been interested in addressing the gap between art and life, fosters a critical dialogue while operating in a system that everyone acknowledges is wasteful but no one seems to address, especially in a Western metropole where the tumbling tumbleweeds of single-use plastic bags are a daily sight.

Ichikawa also presents a series that similarly operates at the intersection of art and mass culture: Her buttons of American women protesters of the recent past underscore the one-on-one encounters vital to the politicization process while foregrounding the unknown activist as hero, a woman, aware of history, who acts beyond the ballot to pressure for social change.

Akiko Ichikawa (born in Sagamihara, Japan) is a New York-based interdisciplinary visual artist, writer, and activist. She has exhibited her work at Andrew Kreps, On Stellar Rays, Five Myles, and ABC No Rio Gallery as well as Socrates Sculpture Park, Asian Arts Initiative (Philadelphia), Aljira (Newark), Midway Art (St. Paul, MN), Quartair Contemporary Art Initiatives (the Hague), Galerie Se Konst (Falun, Sweden), and at the 2009 Incheon Women Artists’ Biennale in South Korea. A recipient of grants from Artists Space, the Public Art Fund, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, and the Bronx Arts Council, she has also written for Flash Art, Hyperallergic, and Art in America.