MOMOYO TORIMITSU

鳥光桃代

Miyata Jiro

MOMOYO TORIMITSU

source: dikeoucollectionorg
“Miyata Jiro” by Momoyo Torimitsu is a life size replica of the typical Japanese businessman. Sporting a suit, glasses, and a receding hair line complete with a comb-over, Miyata has mechanically crawled the metropolises of New York, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, and Sydney. With the aid of the artist in full nurse costume, the duo engages street and business life (Miyata has crawled the likes of Wall Street and La Defense — epicenters of business cultures as well as typical touristic destinations). The performance and audience reactions were videotaped and photographed and six monitors at the Dikeou Collection play the respective videos, each identified by a small flag for the country in which the crawl took place.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
source: artmachinesorg
Artist Momoyo Torimitsu‘s (website sound alert) Japanese businessman crawling robot “Miyata Jiro” isn’t brand new, but the discovery of the video of her running her creepy art machine live on the streets in downtown Syndey, Australia last year is too fantastic to pass up for a post. Torimitsu intended “Miyata Jiro” (originally created in New York, 1997) to be “a symbol of the Japan’s rigid Salaryman culture” and runs as an autonomous robotic businessman crawling on all fours. What I find so fascinating is a) that she performs her robot situationalist piece in tradition full nurse uniform whites and b) that the battery on the machine is encased in the businessman’s ass. Watch, and I hope you enjoy watching her do on-the-spot repairs as much as I do… I’d love to see her run this on Wall Street now.
Just over a year ago, the talented Japanese female robotic artist also exhibited at the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi with a piece called “Horizons,” which was an installation of 100 robotic GI Joes with American, Japanese, and European faces wearing business suits and crawling all over a map of the world. I’d love to see her “Pleasure of Destruction Merry-Go-Round” (1995), featuring resin-cast sculptures of two high-school girls in sailor uniforms on their hands and knees alternating with two white goats on a red turntable. Actually functional as a merry-go-round, the sculptures were offered for visitors to ride.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
source: momoyotorimitsu
Born in Japan, Momoyo Torimitsu has lived and worked in New York since 1996, when she joined the P.S. 1 International Studio Program. Torimitsu works in a variety of forms, including sculpture, installation, video, photographs, performance, and site-specific projects.

Torimitsu’s work is inspired by the hypocritical imagery of corporate culture and media stereotypes of cuteness and happiness, reexamined through the lenses of irony and humor. Her best-known projects are series of realistic crawling businessman robots that symbolize “corporate solders.” Torimitsu has performed with her robot on the streets of global business centers. She has also created a swarm of miniature businessmen robots who tangle with each other to represent a global business “death match”.

Viewers of these works realize that Torimitsu’s exaggerations expose a cultural truth, and experience tension between the desire to laugh and a feeling of unsettlement, forcing them to reevaluate their own roles in the acceptance of these social norms.

Recent exhibitions include: SugiPOP! Portsmouth Museum of Art, Portsmouth, NH; Utopia Now, International Biennial of Media Art, Experimenta, Melbourne; Shenzhen Biannual of Urbanism\Architecture 2009, Shenzhen, China; Thurst Projects, New York; National Museum of Singapore, Singapore; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; and ZKM, Karlsruhe.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
source: japansocietyorg
Primarily a sculptor and installation artist, Momoyo Torimitsu has consistently addressed timely social issues in superbly executed three-dimensional forms and in video. Coming of age during the decline of the Japanese bubble economy, Torimitsu shares a keen critical sensibility of Japanese society with artists of her generation, including Yoshiaki Kaihatsu. Among her earliest works was Pleasure of Destruction Merry-Go-Round (1995) which positioned resin-cast sculptures of two high-school girls in sailor uniforms on their hands and knees alternating with two white goats on a red turntable. Actually Momoyo Torimitsu, Horizons
Momoyo Torimitsu, Horizons, 2004 functional as a merry-go-round, the sculptures were offered for visitors to ride. The red turntable symbolized Japan as the rising sun while the goats and girls represented scapegoats or the damned of society. The work uncannily suggested the degeneration the bubble economy triggered in Japanese society, which shed its traditional boundaries and momentarily sought the sheer pleasure of consumerism and the flesh.

Of the many topical issues that captured Torimitsu’s interest, those associated with corporate culture became her main focus. Soon after graduating from Tama Art University in 1994, she premiered Miyata Jiro, a life-like robot of a stereotypical “salaryman” (a Japanese loanword from English for a white-collar worker) that crawled through the streets of Tokyo’s business districts. Torimitsu dressed as a nurse and followed the robot to change its battery and steer it away from obstacles. The absurdity of a young nurse tending to a groveling middle-aged salaryman was not only farcical, but also satirical of the corporate soldiers who sacrificed their private lives for their employers’ and country’s interests. The frequently reported news of salarymen deaths from overwork (karoshi) made this work poignantly relevant in the late 1990s.

Inspired by the overwhelming response to Miyata Jiro in Japan, Torimitsu took the opportunity to come to New York in 1996 to explore the reaction to the robot in varied social settings. With a scholarship from the Asian Cultural Council, Torimitsu participated in the P.S.1 International Studio Program and staged the crawl of Miyata Jiro on Wall Street and near Rockefeller Center. These performances drew large crowds and major press coverage, allowing Torimitsu to go on a world tour with the robot, showing the piece in Amsterdam, Graz, London, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, and Sydney.

Momoyo Torimitsu, Somehow, I Don’t Feel Comfortable, 2000 This international experience led to her next work, Inside Track (2004), shown at Deitch Projects in New York. The work consisted of three new male robots of different ethnicities crawling about an office floor: Lee (Asian), Gunter (Anglo-Saxon European), and Mark (Caucasian-American). In a video included in the exhibition, the three businessmen raced through a corridor of an office building, evoking the fierce competition of the American business world. At the nearby Swiss Institute, Torimitsu simultaneously presented Horizons, an Astroturf diorama, decorated with plastic foam buildings and mountains and swarming with 100 G.I. Joe doll–derived robots in business suits. The allusion to the American war in Iraq was apparent when corporate soldiers crossed over oceans and national borders to take control of cities and oil fields. Although many robots broke down and their suits wore out by the end of the exhibition, a few dozen remaining robots kept fighting the never-ending corporate battle.

While life in New York expanded Torimitsu’s interest to global issues, living away from Japan also permitted her to view her country from a critical distance. In her installation Danchizuma- Endless Sunrise(1998), she highlighted the monotonous, conformist lives of four middle-aged Japanese housewives residing in a suburban apartment complex through idealized photographic portraits and a diorama of their town encased in a yellow plastic bubble. Similarly, the two gigantic, identical, inflatable plastic rabbits in her Somehow I Don’t Feel Comfortable (2000) physically expressed the cramped and repressed feeling of Japanese society as well as her subversion of the country’s kawaii (cute) popular culture.

Momoyo Torimitsu, Untitled from Made in Sumida: Momoyo Torimitsu and Family-Run Factories project, 2001 In 2001, Torimitsu created a series of site-specific works in collaboration with small family-run factories in Sumida Ward, Tokyo. After discussions with the factory workers, she incorporated in her work many of their final products and the waste derived from their production,, such as plastic suction cups, toys, metal scraps, and machine sounds. This collaborative experience suggested her potential for public art. For Making a Home, Torimitsu will present an interactive installation of sleek office furniture to heighten the corporate aesthetic of efficiency and monumentality.