Atsushi Sugita (critic) Text for "Migakikko" show in art & river bank

MIGAKIKKO is the name of an artistic unit, consisting of Takayuki Yamamoto, who has shown his work in the exhibition All About Laughter (Mori Art Museum, 2007) and Naohiro Deguchi, who runs an alternative space in Kyoto called muzz program space. MIGAKIKKO is also used for the project names that they plan and execute. They were invited as part of Metronome's participation in documenta 12 magazine's progrum, and held their performance in an outdoor public space, as one of the projects of the Living newspaper (which was one of the participants in the Documenta Magazines). Specifically, children each wearing a eneat shower machinef designed by Yamamoto and Deguchi, washed and polished the cars of the participants and other people who were involved in this project. The duo is still actively developing this project in such ways as creating a story based on ethe legendary Wash Car Hero,f working on an animated film, and coordinating a graffiti event. What is the aim of this project that can be seen as an innocent, practical joke? Many of the people who stood and watched the performance at the Documenta ended up feeling quite uncomfortable.

In the performance film that was also presented at the Documenta in Kassel, MIGAKIKKO not only made the viewers who actually saw the performance feel ill as ease, but also demonstrated that the work was filled with curious double meanings. In the film, parents, who came to the Documenta expecting to view some of the worldfs greatest contemporary artworks, are shown sending out their children to participate in this project, simply pleased that their children were taking part in one of the esteemed art-related events of the festival. Yamamoto and Deguchi carefully taught the art of washing cars to the boys and girls, who are shown with dispirited looks on their faces as they are awkwardly washing a car. After a while, the parents who sent out their children without much forethought appear to end up regretting that they had. They realize that it would take much longer than they thought for their children to carry out their missions, due to Yamamoto and Deguchies uncompromising instructions. But in spite of the parentsf regret and resignation, as time passes, the children began to feel a sense of accomplishment in the mission they have taken on, and begin to brighten up. In contrast to the adults who become impatient at being held back from their original purpose of appreciating art, the children become more and more engrossed in the inner depths of art as they commit themselves to actions that were seemingly unrelated to art. By the time the children finish washing the cars, they are wearing expressions that reflect their great confidence at being a member of MIGAKIKKO; thus, one might say that at that point they properly became artists.

The motif of echildrenf frequently appears in works created by Takayuki Yamamoto, who is in fact also a primary-school teacher. In his work Teaching Spoon Bending, which was a video shown at All About Laughter, children who were initiated into the etrickf of spoon bending put it into practice before a video lens. Some children handled it well, while some had difficulty completing their missions from feeling hesitant toward doing the etrickf of bending spoons. What was conveyed through the appearances of the boys and girls in this video? Their awkward actions can be understood as questioning the performative situations that adults live by in society. It can also be seen as the children being swallowed into gales of laughter, as is alluded to in the title of that exhibition. This means that children and adults, and truth and parody, all repeatedly and reciprocally engulf one another, creating an endless nested situation: children of children; adults of adults, truth of truth, and parody of parody. There was a sequel to MIGAKIKKOfs performance held in Documenta. In Germany, washing a car in outdoor public spaces is prohibited. This means that these two artists hollowed out the core idea of the Documenta 11, which had elaborated on politically correct consciousness. Could it be that Yamamoto and Deguchi had calculated their aim to that extent?

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