This summer, Camden Arts Centre
is presenting the first solo institutional exhibition of Japanese artist Yuko Mohri in the United Kingdom.
Following her residency in 2016, Yuko Mohri returns with a new installation developed responsively to the architecture and surrounding environment of Camden Arts Centre. Mohri orchestrates relations between electromagnetic force-fields, patterns of light moving through water and a reconfigured Yamaha reed organ from 1934, as part of a complex audio-spatial composition in which non-human agents and chance factors determine the score.
Music and sound are central to Mohris practice, her involvement with the experimental music scene in Japan has included collaborations with Ryuichi Sakamoto and Otomo Yoshihide. In this new commission, error, improvisation and feedback figure in an acoustic environment that maps shifting relationships between material things and conceptual propositions. Informed by Japanese concepts such as Suki (the state of openness), as well as the renewal of an animistic worldview in contemporary Western philosophy, Mohris installation is attuned to the inherent moods or feelings that architectural spaces are imbued with and reveals the interconnectedness of the built environment with natural processes.
The title of the exhibition Voluta refers to the spiralling shell of a sea snail and calls on multiple visual associations from sacred geometry, architectural ornamentation, the clef in musical notation and the endlessly rotating discs of Duchamps Rotoreleif. Two new sculptural works from the eponymous series feature in the installation. Made from cables, concrete and magnets, they translate musically-coded signals into electro-magnetic fields that compel metallic objects and magnets to move, creating subtle sounds as they tremble.
Oni-bi (fen fire), 2013-17, is a poetic work that was shown at the Kochi Biennial in 2016 and will be re-presented here. The title refers to the mysterious fires found in Japan and throughout Asia that are said to be earthly manifestations of the spirits of humans and animals. The installation harnesses the dynamic force of air moving in the space to make connections between electrically charged elements, creating momentary sparks that illuminate like fireflies and send signals to a mechanical glockenspiel that plays gamelan-like sounds, reverberating through the space.
Inspired by the late American musician Victor Clark Searle, who left a collection of his self-made instruments to Mohri when he died in 2012, the organ and glockenspiel that feature in the exhibition are meditations on the status and life of these objects in the absence of their maker, or the musicians who have played them a requiem for people lost.
Yuko Mohri (b. 1980, Kanagawa, Japan) is an artist whose installations detect invisible and intangible forces such as magnetism, gravity and light. In 2015, Mohri received a grant from the Asian Cultural Council for a residency in New York. She has participated in a number of exhibitions both in Japan and abroad, including the 14th Biennale de Lyon 2017 (France), Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016 (India) and the Yokohama Triennale 2014. Mohri is the Grand Prix winner of the Nissan Art Award 2015 and is also the recipient of Culture and Future Prize at the 65th Kanagawa Cultural Award in 2016 and the New Artist Award at the 67th Japanese Ministry of Education Award for Fine Arts in 2017.