MCA Opens Exhibit with Artist Talk
Dressed in a multi-colored octopus-themed costume, Takashi Murakami sits on stage with a translator, MCA curator Michael Darling, and founder of Complex Magazine Marc Ecko to discuss Murakami’s exhibit and the role of art and consumerization. It’s 10am, and with free coffee and water in hand, we were at the opening of the exhibit and got a chance to hear from the artist himself beforehand.
First, curator Michael Darling gives an introduction to “The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg,” talking about what it took to get this collaboration with Mr. Murakami. Next is a slideshow doing its best to capture all that is Murakami.
Once Murakami gets on stage, he (and his translator) are greeted with a round of applause. Murakami waves and smiles in a multi-colored octopus themed costume, eliciting smiles all around. Darling and Murakami then sit down on stage to talk about the exhibit. We listen intently on what is being said as the artist, a Japanese native, talks to Darling and his translator for help.
The meaning of the exhibit, we learn from Murakami, is a nod to Japanese culture. Octopi are known to eat their own limbs when in distress, knowing a new one will grow in it’s place, Murakami explains, adding that these octopi know that “sacrifices need to be made.”
Describing his own style as “childish," Murakami talks about the exhibit, saying that he wanted to give it a “handmade feeling." Giving some credit to his imaginative staff, this humble artist talks about some of his art, dismissing it as “embarrassing,” to which the audience laughs. Darling assures him that his work is anything but.
Fielding questions from the crowd, he is asked about what inspired him to put Japanese art into his own work. Murakami cites his time at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) in New York where he saw artist Anselm Kiefer use German history in his own work. During this open Q&A, Murakami consults his translator in Japanese who then does her best to tell everyone in the crowd what exactly is going on in Murakami’s head.
Before long, he and Darling are joined on stage by Complex Magazine founder Marc Ecko. Ecko and Murakami collaborated the year prior on Complex’s first ever ComplexCon, a festival and exhibition dedicated to pop culture, art, food, style and music whose design was overseen by Murakami. They are set to join forces again for this year’s ComplexCon, and thus starts a conversation about the role of art and merchandise.
Asked whether or not he sees consumerization as damaging force in an artist’s work, Murakami says that he sees a “new fashion culture coming up," citing the existence of ComplexCon and his experience walking through the crowd at the festival last year. Last year at ComplexCon, he reported, many young people knew who he was, pointing and taking photos of him walking through the festival. He says people are now more engaged in art and that the way that we perceive and consume art has changed given the rise in street culture and the impact of the Internet.
Nearing the hour mark since the start of this talk, we are then released to the exhibit. With only one elevator to take everyone to the fourth floor to see the exhibit, we pile in before being greeted by the colorful style that Murakami is known for. Excitement is in the air as people try to find other ways to get up to the exhibit but to no avail, as the MCA employees do traffic control and assure everyone that we will all get upstairs. Once off the elevator, we are greeted by an octopus mascot. This mascot is the one created on paper by Murakami solely for this exhibit.
When approaching the last room, we are surprised to see the artist himself again in the room. Standing in front of his large works, he poses for the cameras and smiles, looking at all his hard work amongst all the people.
Read Picture this Post’s review of the exhibit, “MCA Murakami Exhibit Review"”
June 10 - September 24, 2017
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
220 E Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
Adults - $15
Students - $8
MCA members and youth 18 and under - Free
Silder Photos: Maria Ponce Berre © MCA Chicago.