Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Who do you trust?

This amazing 5 minute CG trailer for the upcoming “DC Universe Online” video-game almost slipped past our radars.

Brought to life by Blur Studio, it features Poison Ivy, Wonder Woman, Metallo, The Green Lantern, Giganta, Black Adam, Batman, The Flash, Cyborg, Lex Luthor, Deathstroke, Artemis, The Joker, Harley Queen, Superman and Brainiac (…phew!) all together, epically battling it out on a post-apocalyptic Earth.

With pure balls to the wall awesomeness including Superman with red eyes; it just doesn’t get more badass than this! If only DC could make their features as good as their game trailers…

via: motionographer.

Diehl Breakers

From one of NYC's hardest-working designers House of Diehl, this new line of one-off sunglasses mixes high camp with one-of-a-kind appeal at a price point that means you can still indulge in your Rick Owens obsession too. The Wayfarer styles are studded, chained, grommeted, dipped, painted—anything but basic. "Your accessories should always be the loudest thing about you. Isabella Blow once told me that," says Roman Milisic, who co-founded Diehl with his wife, Mary Jo Diehl.

Starting at a wallet-friendly price of $50 a pair, "Our breakers are special enough to be treasured, but cheap enough to 'break,'" explains Milisic. "Well, that always happens to my sunglasses."

The upcoming collection will feature a limited-run of shades with hand-drawn artwork. To purchase, visit their site.

via: coolhunting.


Just two short years ago Burlington, Vermont resident Jeff Sheldon founded Ugmonk with a straightforward mission to produce high-quality products with simple, fresh designs. What started as a small side project—a way to marry his passion for typography and t-shirt design—quickly grew to much more than that. Thousands of shirts later, he recently decided to leave his traditional "day job" and do Ugmonk full-time.

The current Ugmonk collection consists of around 25 different t-shirts and hoodies with lots of new designs being added in the coming months. To celebrate the two-year mark, Sheldon just released a special Limited Edition 2nd Anniversary Collector's Set. Each includes a two-color discharge print on a charcoal gray tee, a numbered wooden coin, and Ugmonk collector's card, all packed in a custom wooden box.

Only 200 of these sets will ever be made so grab yours for $50 at Ugmonk's online shop while they're still available.

via: coolhunting.

sleeping with the fishes

When it comes to honeymoon destinations, most newlyweds have set aside a nice little bundle for their ultimate getaway.

But a unique suite in the Maldives - while offering unbeatable views of the local marine life - is likely to eat up the entire average wedding budget, let alone the honeymoon accommodation costs.

Conrad hotels are offering a breathtaking suite at their Maldives Rangali Islands resort, which has to be seen to be believed.

Normally the hotel's 'Ithaa' restaurant, the domed 'reverse aquarium' is being converted into a special submerged bedroom in honour of the hotel's fifth anniversary.

A night below the surface of the Indian Ocean would have to rank as the number one night to remember, and the romantic experience comes with a complimentary champagne breakfast the following morning.

Of course the aquatic entertainment - provided by the likes of blue-striped snapper, sting rays, parrot fish and moray eels - is also (quite literally) on the house.

Unsurprisingly, however, the hotel is keeping a 'price on application' policy - the Ithaa wedding experience is not listed on the Conrad hotels website, and potential guests are advised to personally request the room at least 14 days in advance.

A King Deluxe Water Villa - until now the top-of-the-range accommodation at the Maldives Rangali Islands resort - is a tidy £1,156 a night... and it's above water.

It's safe to say that this experience is not for the budget-minded.

via: dailymail.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Satoshi Kon (1963 - 2010)

Satoshi Kon, the director of animated movies Perfect Blue, Tokyo Godfathers, Millennium Actress and Paprika, "as well as the TV series Paranoia Agent, died on Tuesday, August 24th at the age of 46. ( NY Times obituary .) He left behind an extraordinary document , which his family has posthumously posted on his blog.

They're the last words of a supremely talented artist Who knows that he's dying very soon, with work left unfinished.
It's been the talk of the Japanese internet, and it struck me deeply.

Sayonara (Goodbye)

How could I forget, May 18th of this year.

I received the following pronouncement from a cardiovascular doctor at Musashino Red Cross Hospital.

"It's the latter stages of pancreatic cancer. It's metastasized to several bones. You have at the most half a year left to live."

My wife and I listened together. It was a fate so unexpected and untenable, that the two of us together could barely take it.

I used to honestly think that "I can't help it if I die any day." Still, it was so sudden.

To be sure, there were some signs. 2 to 3 months before that I'd had strong pains in several places on my back and in the joints of my legs; I'd lost strength in my right leg and found it hard to walk, and I'd been going to an acupuncturist and a chiropractor, but I wasn't getting any better. So after having been examined in an MRI and a PET-CT and such advanced machinery, came the sudden pronouncement of the time I had left.

It was as if death had positioned itself right behind me before I knew it, and there was nothing I could do.

After the pronouncement, my wife and I researched ways to prolong my life. It was literally a life or death situation. We received the support of staunch friends and strong allies. I rejected anti-cancer medication, and tried to live with a view of the world slightly different from the norm. The fact that I rejected what was "expected (normal)" seemed to me to be very much like me.

I've never really felt that I belonged with the majority. It was the same for medical care, as with anything else. It Was The Same for medical care, as with Anything else. "Why not try to keep living according to my own principles!" However, as is the case when I'm trying to create a work [a film], ones willpower alone didn't do the job. The illness kept progressing day by day.

On the other hand, as a member of society, I do accept at least half of what society in general holds to be right. I do pay taxes. I'm far from being an upstanding citizen, but I am a full member of Japanese society. So, aside from the things I needed to do to prolong my life from my own point of view, I also attempted to do all the things necessary to "be ready to die properly". I don't think I managed to do it properly though. (But) one of the things I did was, with the cooperation of 2 friends that I could trust, set up a company to take care of things like the measly number of copyrights that I hold. Another thing that I did was, to insure that my wife would take over any modest assets that I had smoothly by writing a will. Of course, I didn't think there would be any fighting over my legacy or anything, but I wanted to make sure that my wife, who would remain behind in this world, would have nothing to worry about - and besides, I wanted to remove any anxiety from myself, the one who was going to take a little hop over there, before I had to leave.

The paperwork and research necessary for these tasks, which neither my wife nor I were good at doing, were taken care of speedily by wonderful friends. Later on, when I developed pneumonia and was at death's door, and put my final signature on the will, I thought that if I died right then and there, it couldn't be helped.

"Ah...I can die at last."

After all, I'd been brought by ambulance to the Musashino Red Cross Hospital 2 days before that; then brought back again to the same hospital by ambulance the day after. Even I had to be hospitalized and undergo many examinations. The result of those examinations: pneumonia, water in my chest, and when I asked the doctor [straight out], the answer I received was very businesslike, and I was in a way grateful for that.

"You may last 1 or 2 days...even if you survive this, you probably have until the end of the month."

As I listened, I thought "It's like he's telling me the weather forecast", but still the situation was dire.

That was July the 7th. It was a rather brutal Tanabata for sure.

So, I decided right there and then.

I wanted to die at home.

I might inconvenience the people around me, but I asked them to see how I could escape and go back home. [I was able to do so] thanks to my wife's efforts, the hospital's cooperation despite their position of having given up on me, the tremendous help of other medical facilities, and the coincidences that were so numerous that they only seemed to be gifts from heaven. I've never seen so many coincidences and events falling into place so neatly in real life, I could barely believe it. This wasn't Tokyo Godfathers after all.

While my wife was running around getting things in place for my escape, I was pleading with doctors "If I can go home for even half a day, there are things I can still do!", then waiting alone in the depressing hospital room for death. I was lonely, but this was what I was thinking.

"Maybe dying won't be so bad."

I didn't have any reasons for it, and perhaps I needed to think like that, but I was surprisingly calm and relaxed.

However, there was just one thought that was gnawing away at me.

"I don't want to die here..."

As I thought that, something moved out from the calendar on the wall and started to spread around the room.

"Oh dear, a line marching out from the calendar. My hallucinations aren't at all original."

I had to smile at the fact at my professional instincts were working even at times like this, but in any case I was probably the nearest to the land of the dead that I'd ever been at that point. I really felt death very close to me. [But] with the help of many people, I miraculously escaped Musashino Red Cross and came back home, wrapped up in the land of the dead and bedsheets.

I should emphasize that I have no criticism of or hatred for Musashino Red Cross Hospital, so don't misconstrue me.

I just wanted to go home to my own house. The house where I live.

I was a little surprised that, when I was being carried into my living room, as a bonus, I experienced that deathbed experience everyone is familiar with of "looking down on your body being carried into the room from a place high above". I was looking down on myself and the scene around me from a position several meters above ground, through a wide-angle-ish lens and flash lighting. The square of the bed in the middle of the room seemed very large and prominent, and my sheet-wrapped body was being lowered into the middle of the square. None too gently it seemed, but I'm not complaining.

So, all I had to do was to wait for death in my own home.


It seems that I was able to overcome the pneumonia.


I did think like this, in a way.

"I didn't manage to die! (laugh)"

Afterwards, when I could think of nothing else but death, I thought that I did indeed die once then. In the back of my mind, the world "reborn" wavered several times.

Amazingly, after then my life-force was rejuvenated. From the bottom of my heart, I believe this is due to the people who helped me; first and foremost my wife, and my supportive friends, the doctors and nurses, and the care managers.

Now that my life-force had been restarted, I couldn't waste my time. I told myself that I'd been given an extra life, and that I had to spend it carefully. So I thought that I wanted to erase at least one of the irresponsibilities that I'd left behind in this world.

To be truthful, I'd only told the people closest to me about the cancer. I hadn't even told my parents. In particular, because of various work-related complications, I couldn't say anything (to people) even if I wanted to. I wanted to announce my cancer on the internet and report on my remaining life, but if Satoshi's death was scheduled, there might be some waves made, however small. For these reasons, I acted very irresponsibly to people clear to me. I am so sorry.

There were so many people that I wanted to see before I died, to say even one word of greeting to. Family and relatives, old friends and classmates from elementary and middle and high school, the mates I met in college, the people I met in the manga world, with whom I exchanged so much inspiration, the people in the anime world whose desks I sat next to, went drinking with, with whom I competed on on the same works, the mates with whom I shared good and bad times. The countless people I was able to know because of my position as a film director, the people who call themselves my fans not only in Japan but around the world, the friends I'd made via the web.

There are so many people that I want to see at least once (well there are some I don't want to see too), but if I see them I'm afraid that that the thought that "I can never see this person again" will take me over, and that I wouldn't be able to greet death gracefully. Even if I had recovered, I had very little life force left, and it took a lot of effort to see people. The more people wanted to see me, the harder it was for me to see them. What irony. In addition, my lower body was paralyzed due to the cancer spreading to my bones, and I was prone on my bed, and I didn't want people to see my emaciated body. I wanted most of the people I knew to remember me as the Satoshi that was full of life.

I'd like to use this space to apologize to my relatives, friends and acquaintances, for not telling you about my cancer, for my irresponsibility. Please understand that this was Satoshi's selfish desire. I mean, Satoshi Kon was "that kind of guy". When I envision your faces, I only have good memories and remember (your) great smiles. Everyone, thank you for all the truly great memories. I loved the world I lived in. Just the fact that I can think that makes me happy.

The many people that I met throughout my lifetime, whether they were positive or negative, have helped to shape the human being that is Satoshi Kon, and I am grateful for all of those encounters. Even if the end result is an early death in my mid 40s, I've accepted this as my own unique destiny. I've had so many positive things happen to me after all.

The thing I think about death now. "I can only say, it's too bad." Really.

However, even though I can let go of many of my irresponsible actions [by not telling people], I cannot help regretting two things. About my parents, and about Madhouse [founder] Maruyama-san.

Even though it was rather late, there was no choice but to come clean with the whole truth. I wanted to beg them for forgiveness.

As soon as I saw Maruyama-san's face when he came to see me at home, I couldn't stop the flow of tears or my feeling of shame. "I'm so sorry, for ending up like this..." Maruyama-san said nothing, and just shook his head and gripped both my hands. I was filled with thankfulness. I Was filled with thankfulness. Feelings of gratitude and joy, that I'd been lucky enough to work with this person, came over me like a landslide. It may be selfish, but I felt as though I had been forgiven in that instant.

My biggest regret is the film "Dreaming Machine". I'm worried not only about the film itself, but about the staff with whom I was able to work with on the film. After all, there's a strong possibility that the storyboards that were created with (our) blood, sweat and tears will never be seen. This is because Satoshi Kon put his arms around the original story, the script, the characters and the settings, the sketches, the music...every single image. Of course there are things that I shared with the animation director, the art director and other staff [members], but basically most of the work can only be understood by Satoshi Kon. It's easy to say that it was my fault for arranging things this way, but from my point of view I made every effort to share my vision with others. However, in my current state I can only feel deep remorse for my inadequacies in these areas. I am really sorry to all of the staff. However, I want them to understand, if only a little bit. Satoshi Kon was "that kind of guy", and, that's why he was able to make rather weird anime that was a bit different. I know this is a selfish excuse, but think of my cancer and please forgive me.

I haven't been idly waiting for death, even now I'm thinking with my weak brain of ways to let the work live even after I am gone. But they are all shallow ideas. When I told Maruyama-san about my concerns about "Dreaming Machine", he just said "Don't worry. We'll figure out something, so don't worry."

I wept.

I wept uncontrollably.

Even with my previous movies, I've been so irresponsible with the productions and the budgets, but I always had Maruyama-san figure it out for me in the end.

This time is no different. I really haven't changed.

I was able to talk to my heart's content with Maruyama-san. Thanks to this, I was able to feel, at least a little, that Satoshi Kon's talents and skills were of some value in our industry.

"I regret losing your talent. I wish that you were able to leave it for us."

If Madhouse's Maruyama-san says that, I can go to the netherworld with a little bit of self-pride after all. And of course, even without anyone else telling me this, I do feel regret that my weird visions and ability to draw things in minute detail will be lost, but that can't be helped. I am grateful from the bottom of my heart that Maruyama-san gave me the opportunity to show the world these things. Thank you, so very much. Satoshi Kon was happy as an animation director.

It was so heartbreaking to tell my parents.

I'd really intended to go up to Sapporo, where my parents live, while I was still able to, but my illness progressed so unexpectedly and annoyingly fast that I ended up calling them on the telephone from the hospital room as I was closest to death.

"I'm in the late stages of cancer and will die soon. I was so happy being born as a child to Father and Mother. Thank you."

They must have been devastated to hear this out of the blue, but I was certain I was going to die right then.

But then I came back home and survived the pneumonia. I made the big decision to see my parents. They wanted to see me too. But it was going to be so hard to see them, and I didn't have the will to. But I wanted to see my parents' faces one last time. I wanted to tell them how grateful I was that they brought me into this world.

I've been a happy person. Even though I must apologize to my wife, my parents and all the people that I love, that lived out my life a bit too faster than most.

My parents followed my selfish wishes, and came the next day from Sapporo to my house. I can never forget the first words out of my mother's mouth when she saw me lying there.

"I'm so sorry, for not bringing you into this world with a stronger body!"

I was completely speechless.

I could only spend a short time with my parents, but that was enough. I had felt that if I saw their faces, that it would be enough, and it really turned out that way.

Thank you, Father, Mother. I am so happy that I was born into this world as the child of the both of you. My heart is full of memories and gratitude. Happiness itself is important, but I am so grateful that you taught me to appreciate happiness. Thank you, so very much.

It's so disrespectful to to die before ones parents, but in the last 10 plus years, I've been able to do what I want as an anime director, achieve my goals, and get some good reviews. I do feel regret that my films didn't make a lot of money, but I think they got what they deserved. In these last 10 plus years in particular I've felt as though I've lived more intensively than other people, and I think that my parents understood what was in my heart.

Because of the visits by Maruyama-san and my parents, I feel as though I've taken a big burden off my shoulders.

Lastly, to my wife, about whom I worry the most, but who has been my support until the end.

Since that time-left pronouncement, we drowned ourselves in tears together so many times. Every day was brutal for both of us, physically and mentally. There are almost no words for it. But the reason why I was able to survive those difficult days was because of the words that you said to me right after we received the news.

"I'll be at your side [run with you] until the end."

True to those words, as though you were leaving my worries in the dust, you skillfully directed the demands and requests that came rushing towards us like a landslide, and quickly learned how to take care of your husband. I was so moved, watching you deal with things so efficiently.

"My wife is awesome."

No need to keep saying that now, you say? No no. You are even more awesome now than you ever were - I truly feel this. Even after I have died, I believe that you will send Satoshi Kon to the next world with grace. Ever since we got married, I was so wrapped up in "Work, work" that I was only able to spend some time at home after the cancer - such a shame.

But you stood close to me, you always understood that I needed to immerse myself in my work, that my talent was there. Thank you.

There are so many things, countless things, that I worry about, but everything needs an end. Lastly, to Doctor H who agreed to see me to the end in my home, even though it's something not done these days, and his wife and nurse, K-san, I would like to express my deep gratitude. Medical care in a private home is very inconvenient, but you patiently dealt with the numerous aches and pains that cancer brings on, and endeavors to make my time until the final goal called death be as comfortable as possible. I can't say how much you helped me. And you didn't just deal with this difficult and arrogant patient as if it were just your jobs, but communicated with me as human beings. I cannot say how much of a support you were to me, and how much you saved me. I was encouraged by your qualities as human beings several times. am deeply deeply grateful.

And, this is really the last, but from shortly after I received that pronouncement in mid-May until now, I've been lucky to have the cooperation, help and mental support, both personally and in business, from 2 friends. My friend T, who has been a friend since high school and is a member of KON'Stone Inc, and producer H, I thank you both from the bottom of my heart. Thank you so much. It's hard for me with my measly vocabulary to express my gratitude adequately to you both. My wife and I have both received so much from you.

If you two hadn't been there for us, I am sure that I'd be anticipating death while looking at my wife here as she sits by my side with considerably more trepidation and worry. I am really in your debt.

And, if I may ask you for one more thing - could you help my wife send me over to the other side after my death? I'd be able to get on that flight with my mind at rest if you could do that for me. I ask this from my heart.

So, to everyone who stuck with me through this long document, thank you. With my heart full of gratitude for everything good in the world, I'll put down my pen.

Now excuse me, I have to go.

Satoshi Kon

Friday, August 27, 2010

Happy Friday

Painting on water

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thorsten Brinkmann

Via Kunstagenten Berlin

Icebergs / Daniel Andersson

shared with us his project Icebergs. An iceberg only shows the tip above the water surface, the rest stays hidden below. These floating summer cottages in sheltered bays an lakes around Åland Islands, investigates this concept.

via: archdaily.

OriginalFake KAWS Wooden Companion Preview

OriginalFake previews what looks to be an upcoming wooden version of KAWS highly popular Companion toy. No official information is available, aside from speculation that this will ultimately see an official release. Stay tuned as we uncover more in the coming weeks.

via: hypebeast.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


British artist Anthony James has basically frozen an action movie in 3D with his sculpture "KO," the shell of a destroyed Ferrari 355 Spider suspended in a mirrored neon matrix. Simultaneously completely out of and completely in control.

Via Today and Tomorrow; images by Anthony James.

Comments Neuvo Watches Try it Before You Buy it iPhone App

Neuvo Watches simplifies the ordering of watches online by offering a ‘Try it before you buy it’ iPhone App. Badass.

Ice Cream “Floating Cones & Bones” T-Shirt

Ice Cream drops this new “Floating Cones & Bones” tee, part of the brand’s latest series of releases for August 2010. The tee follows a playful approach, featuring the often seen Ice Cream logo floating over a dot pattern design. Available now through select BBC/Ice Cream stockists as well as the brand’s flagship stores.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Dear Bomb

One of the fashion world's most explosive creative forces receives its first biography this October with the release of Yohji Yamamoto - My Dear Bomb. The unorthodox life story will feature short fiction penned by Yamamoto himself, interspersed with reminiscences, philosophical essays and a timeline of as-yet-unreleased personal images. A look back at some classic campaigns makes it clear that this biography is worth the wait. Available this October from Ludion.

New Brand by Tara McPherson

Check out the newest creation of Tara McPherson called The Cotton Candy Machine. This new brand will kick into full gear in the Spring of 2011 when Tara opens up a retail store in Brooklyn that will feature tons of cool products and a small gallery space.

via: cluttermagazine

OriginalFake x Medicom Toy Pinocchio & Jiminy Cricket Set

Following several teasers, Medicom Toy reveals better images into its latest production with OriginalFake, this time taking on two of the animated world’s most lovable creations, Pinocchio & Jiminy Cricket. Both are given the KAWS touch with his iconic “X” motif implemented on each figure’s hands. The set will retail at ¥17,640 (Approx. $206 USD), with a release date set for August 28th at the OriginalFake store in Tokyo. A drop through other select global retailers should be expected in time. Stay tuned!

via: hypebeast.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dealer James Cohan Launches ‘VIP Art Fair,’ Virtual Emporium for Armchair Buyers

In a radical twist on the art fair model, the new VIP Art Fair will exist only online, catering to busy collectors weary of the cost and hassle of traveling. It’s Second Life meets Gilt Groupe for the art biz.

Seasoned Chelsea dealer James Cohan has teamed up with Internet entrepreneur Jonas Almgren, to launch the fair, according to art market sources. The event is being billed as the “first ever” virtual art fair.

The first edition is slated for January, usually a quiet time in the gallery sale cycle. The fair is comprised of virtual stands priced $4,000 to $20,000, according to sources. The fair will be timed, and we believe, last for one week, like timed sales mounted by online retailers on member-only sites such as Gilt Groupe and Ru La La. (A VIP Art Fair web page, with a snazzy black and white logo, has been set up, but the site is not yet live. The fair also has a Facebook page with 22 fans).

Cohan already has signed aboard an impressive group of international dealers, despite a hefty booth price, the concept’s novelty and the dreary economy.

Participating dealers are thought to include Barbara Gladstone, Luhring Augustine, Yancey Richardson, David Zwirner, Marianne Boesky and Hauser & Wirth.

The venture will test collectors willingness to spend serious money on art acquisitions initiated online. While details have been difficult to pin down, here is what we surmise about how the fair will work: a select group of collectors will be permitted to browse the web-based fair anonymously, so that even dealers won’t know when a potential buyer has cruised a stand, according to sources. A collector may contact the dealer with queries and make an appointment to see the artwork in person if so desired. Exhibiting dealers are also permitted to have backroom spaces, like usual art fairs.

James Cohan, proprietor of the James Cohan Gallery, operates branches on West 26th Street in New York and Shanghai. The gallery is known for a strong roster of contemporary artists including Bill Viola, Beatriz Milhazes and Yinka Shonibare.

Jonas Almgren is founder and CEO of One Art World, a website combining gallery listings, online art sales and auction information.

via: Lindsay Pollack.

Liz Deschenes.

»Moiré #3«, 2007 by Liz Deschenes.

via: vvork.

Frank Miller’s “Gucci Guilty” Trailer

Even though the trailer is for a women’s fragrance, we will feature it here, mainly because it has been produced by comic book legend Frank Miller. The trailer for Gucci Guilty already looks promising and the full clip will be shown during the MTV Video Music Awards on September 12th. The campaign website and video can be seen here.

The Public Hi-Fi Balloon

Before Robert Pollard formed the seminal lo-fi band Guided by Voices, he was a high school student making imaginary album covers for imaginary bands. The collage style of these mock album covers would eventually manifest itself in much of the album art for Guided by Voices, and a multitude of his solo and side projects.

Pollard regularly visits flea markets and antique shops looking for magazines, posters and text books—anything old that can be taken apart and re-assembled in two-dimensions. His collages combine type and imagery in a way that seem to recall a bygone era that never actually existed. The resulting aesthetic lies somewhere between British Invasion poster art, B movies and the pictures one might find in a decades old photo album. Eschewing digital mediums, each piece is made entirely of glue and paper.

Pollard's collages and songwriting share many similarities. Both seem shrouded in an esoteric surrealism, lean heavily on accessible pop aesthetics and are delivered with a sense of honesty and rudimentary production. "They both have to do with re-assembling familiar imagery to create interesting landscapes," he says. "One with sight, the other with sound."

"The Public Hi-Fi Balloon"—an exhibit of Pollard's recent collages—will show at the 45 Space in New York at the end of this month. Set up to look like a fake record store, it will be comprised of imagined LP and seven-inch covers as well as a rack of fake magazine covers. Mr. Pollard will be present for the 27 August 2010 opening and the show runs until 28 August 2010.

via: coolhunting.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Faile Temple Website

Faile’s temple installation in Lisbon gets its own website, featuring excellent photography and full screen images.

Ostoure – Super Naked Bike

Via BuzzBeast

Daniel Danger Art Toy

Gallery 1988 will release Daniel Danger’s first art toy in very limited quantities during the opening of his ‘they will take it back’ solo on Thursday, August 5th (7-10 PM). Based on one of Danger’s original sketches, the piece created by Pretty in Plastic takes the road less travelled recreating a scene rather than focusing on an isolated character. This design choice leads to a distinctive piece which pushes the parameters of ‘art toys’ -- a definite plus in our book. 1988 has only shown the above unpainted protos so far. We’re looking forward to seeing the finished piece which looks to deliver an unsettling, eerie experience.

via: vinylpulse.

Jeff Koons at Galerie Jerome De Noirmont

Jeff Koons is set to make an impact of mass proportions in France again, following his widely acclaimed Versailles exhibition. This time Koons’ will have a collection of his highly coveted Popeye works on showcase at Galarie Jerome De Noirmont. Opening on September 16 the exhibition actually coincides with fellow artist Takashi Murakami’s show opening at Versailles.

Info from Arrested Motion.

Interview Magazine: Takashi Murakami

“The Japanese Andy Warhol” is the shortcut many critics use to describe the complex and wide-ranging work of artist Takashi Murakami. And while it is probably one of the most hackneyed, if not reductive, monikers in the book, the Warholian model does provide a useful point of departure for understandingMurakami’s oeuvre.

Blurring the traditional lines between art, commerce, pop, and subcultural concerns, the range of Murakami’s creative pursuits are seemingly boundless. In addition to producing some of the most iconic paintings and sculptures of the past two decades, his “business-art” activities span from designing a full gamut of consumer merchandise (either for his own Kaikai Kiki label or for fashion houses such as Louis Vuitton and Comme des Garçons) to running a gallery that promotes young Japanese artists to hosting a weekly radio talk show in Tokyo—to name just a few of the many preoccupations that keep him working on a legendarily nonstop clock.

Yet as this conversation reveals, Murakami cannot be reduced to being a mere disciple of the American Pop master. Indigenous Japanese culture—whether in its reverent, sacred forms, or in more spectacular pop guises—is at the heart of every aspect of Murakami’s work. But while his nationalism might not always be immediately legible to Western audiences, his multitentacled enterprise can be understood as a campaign to reverse the tide of Japan’s postwar cultural inferiority complex and overturn American Pop hegemony by capturing both the Western market share and the popular imagination with more purely
Japanese forms and content.

Understood in these terms, the 48-year-old Murakami will stake a major victory by colonizing one of Europe’s most revered palaces next month with the opening of a retrospective of his work at the Château de Versailles in France, which will feature a panoramic selection of paintings and sculptures installed throughout the Hall of Mirrors, the apartments of the king and queen, as well as in the Château’s legendary gardens. I spoke to him recently in New York.

ALISON GINGERAS: How’s your dog? His name is . . .

TAKASHI MURAKAMI: Her name is Pom.

GINGERAS: Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about how Pom came into your life?

MURAKAMI: [laughs] Well, this last year was very busy, so I thought I had to take a rest—a holiday. I was looking for a good place to go where nothing was happening, and I saw a photo in a magazine of a small, dirty hotel, and, in the photo of the hotel, there was this very dirty dog. The hotel was in the very southern part of Japan, a place called Yoronjima . . . It’s just a small coral island—there is nothing there. It was a popular vacation place in Japan in the 1970s, but now it’s very, very quiet, almost like a ghost town. But the hotel there is still alive. The owner is, like, a crazy local guy. Everything there looks really unnatural. This hotel has two dogs. One dog was the one I saw in the picture—it’s a very small dog. But the second one was grown and was pregnant! So I asked the owner when this pregnant dog would give birth, and he kept saying, “Tomorrow, tomorrow . . .” I was waiting for the puppies, so I wound up staying at this hotel for four days. It was a sad situation—there was no sun and no puppies.

GINGERAS: Not a great vacation then.

MURAKAMI: No. But I am not fun. [both laugh] I always have stress. It’s not funny. So I was just there, watching this dog and waiting for the puppies.

GINGERAS: You didn’t go to this island with the idea of acquiring a puppy?

MURAKAMI: No. It was a boring time where I could just watch life go by . . . I could see that having an animal is nice. When I went back to Tokyo, the hotel manager e-mailed me: “The dog had babies. What do you think? Can you pick one up from here?” I immediately replied, “Yes, okay.” So I got these four puppies.


MURAKAMI: Yes. I told my studio staff and I anticipated everybody would say, “Yes! Thank you, Takashi!” But everybody went quiet. Silence. No reaction. I asked, “Why? Dogs are cute and funny.” Then one of my assistants said, “But, Takashi, who will take care of them?” And when I answered, “You and me,” they objected because I’m always traveling outside of Japan. [both laugh]

GINGERAS: I guess they were thinking they have too much work already with you!

MURAKAMI: Yes, they are already overwhelmed with fixing paintings and other things. They were saying, “Oh, my god!” It was a mistake in my judgment. So after we talked about it I decided just to take one dog and made plans to go to the hotel to pick it up. When I brought her back, I went to the veterinarian to get her checked out. The doctor said that she looked like a Japanese dog.

GINGERAS: She’s a Japanese breed?


GINGERAS: What is the breed, exactly?

MURAKAMI: No name.

GINGERAS: No breed? She’s just an indigenous Japanese dog?

MURAKAMI: Yeah. It was fascinating. The vet told me that almost 90 percent of dogs in Japan come from the West. So she is like an original. The vet was excited and was asking about where she came from. He wanted to meet the breeder. [both laugh] It’s the first time for me to be taking care of a pet. It’s not like taking care of the cactuses that I have.

GINGERAS: You breed lotus plants, right?

MURAKAMI: Yeah, and also very small guppies. I also keep something else—these small insects.

GINGERAS: Yes, I heard that you’re breeding beetles. Is there a dedicated animal manager at your studio?

MURAKAMI: [laughs] Yeah, I have two guys who do that.

GINGERAS: Two guys? And that’s all they do, right?

MURAKAMI: Yeah, yeah. All day, all the time.

GINGERAS: Is there just one person in charge of Pom?

MURAKAMI: No. Two guys. They take turns. There are shifts.

GINGERAS: I saw this chart on the wall when I went to the Kaikai Kiki studio in Long Island City while we were working on the Tate Modern show last year [Pop Life: Art in a Material World]. Shin [Shinichi Kitahara, director of exhibition production at Kaikai Kiki] showed me the chart that tracks how Pom is trained and cared for, which I thought was amazing because it’s like the same way you make paintings. It detailed this almost step-by-step process. I thought that somebody who didn’t know you might think it’s too clinical a way of treating a dog. But I thought it was interesting because it showed that you were treating this process of training and caring for the dog with the same level of respect that you do the process of making paintings—which is with an enormous amount of respect.

MURAKAMI: [laughs] Well, it’s very serious.

GINGERAS: Did you make that recent self-portrait sculpture with the dog [Pom & Me, 2009] before you got Pom?

MURAKAMI: That piece was planned more than three years ago. I don’t know why I depicted myself with a dog. I saw a show at P.S.1 [in Long Island City] with a very funny video where a dog is biting himself for, like, 20 minutes. So I was thinking, “Who’s training for that? What is that? This is art? This is not art! What is that? What is this dog?” It made a big impression on my brain. I was like, “What is a pet? What is a dog?”

GINGERAS: What were you thinking about the representation of dogs in more traditional terms? I don’t recall having noticed so many dogs when I’ve visited Tokyo. Is there a genre or iconography of dogs in Japanese visual culture in the way that there is in, say, European art?

MURAKAMI: I think so, because there are many statues in Japan that feature dogs. You know that film Hachi with Richard Gere?

GINGERAS: About the owner who disappears while the loyal dog stays and waits for eternity for his return?


GINGERAS: I think almost every culture has that story. Do you think Pom is going to appear in your work?

MURAKAMI: Oh, I don’t know. But for now I’m focused on breeding her. It’s like making a Jack Russell Terrier, because her breed seems similar to one of those. I want the mix to be exact.

GINGERAS: So we can add dog breeder to the list of all of the various things that you do. You’re a painter, sculptor, animator, gallerist, an entrepreneur . . .

MURAKAMI: Being a breeder is so very hard! [laughs] You’re working with DNA.

GINGERAS: Well, your work is so much about hybrids, isn’t it?

MURAKAMI: I don’t think I’ve realized that until now. I’m always very interested in breeding. Raising cacti is breeding. My lotus plant collection is breeding. The insects are breeding.

GINGERAS: But isn’t that part of what you do visually? Especially in your most recent work—for example, the epic 16-panel painting you made for Palazzo Grassi, [727–272: The Emergence of God at the Reversal of Fate] . . . In a way, you’re cross-breeding Western, postwar art language and the Japanese superflat aesthetic.

MURAKAMI: This specific work is like a DJ style.


MURAKAMI: You know, bringing records and mixing.

GINGERAS: But you don’t think that what you’re doing is more analogous to bringing together a Western Jack Russell dog with an innate breed of Japanese dog? I don’t think it’s like when you’re deejaying, because with that kind of mixing you know what you’re going to get. But when you make a painting, you don’t always know what’s going to happen.

MURAKAMI: Oh . . . That’s the critics’ take?

GINGERAS: Yes. [both laugh] I was thinking about the work you made for the Pop Life show at the Tate Modern, where you took a Western Pop reference—The Vapors’ track “Turning Japanese”—and retranslated it into a Japanese otaku sensibility [otaku refers to people who have an obsessive interest in things like manga, anime, and video games] in a video starring Kirsten Dunst as a majokko [magical] princess. I thought it was such a perverse and subtly complex way of making your work accessible to a public that might not know who you are—which was the case in London. Yet you weren’t dumbing it down.

MURAKAMI: When I approached the film director, McG, for this project, I proposed for him to use the Akihabara neighborhood—Tokyo’s “electric town”—as a backdrop. The film was supposed to star the Japanese otaku cult girl band AKB48, but at the very last minute, they dropped out. After they dropped out, we had just three days. So I was ready to give up.


MURAKAMI: We had the money and planning in place and I thought it would all fall through, but McG didn’t let that happen. He said, “Okay, Takashi, I have a question: Do you want to make a film or not?” So in just one day he got Kirsten Dunst to come to Tokyo, he brought in this music, and he asked me if it all fit with my ideas. It was perfect because my goal was just to introduce people to what is Akihabara and try to explain its significance to Londoners and to serious art people. I was trying to capture what was happening in Japanese kid culture. I didn’t at first understand this process of shooting a video. The whole planning happened over the phone. Three days later, McG arrived in Tokyo and started shooting. It was all done after an 18-hour shoot.

GINGERAS: Had Kirsten Dunst ever experienced this aspect of Japanese culture? Had she ever been to Akihabara? Did she know about cosplay [costume play] and all that?

MURAKAMI: No, no. She may have had some information, but she had no experience with it. I think she really enjoyed it. That McG is really talented with people. He was great at making the actress feel good and motivated. You know, McG twisted my idea so it could fit with Western expectations . . .

GINGERAS: It’s funny, because I had the impression at first that McG twisted your idea by adding this pop song to your piece. But what made it even more perverse is how you then assimilated the hybrid of the Hollywood star and Akihabara landscape in the way you made this monumental wallpaper backdrop for the video for the Tate presentation.

MURAKAMI: I had to do that. I had to make up my identity, right? [laughs]

GINGERAS: Yes and no. Your contribution to that show speaks to how, despite your being one of the most famous and popular artists working today, most people still don’t grasp the complexity of your work. It still seems that most people understand that your work is the Japanese version of Western pop art. But I’m actually captivated by the indigenous Japanese side of your work. It seems that you try to translate or make accessible this deep Japanese-ness to non-Japanese audiences. Just the other day I was talking to this art historian who was saying, “Takashi Murakami is like a Renaissance artist. He has all these different assistants and young artists working with him under the Murakami school.” And while that’s true, as you’ve said yourself, your whole model of working comes out of the Edo period [the pre- and early-modern period running from 1603–1868] and the archetype of the Temple School. I was also thinking about how Geisai [a Tokyo art fair created by Murakami to support emerging artists] is founded on an indigenous Japanese idea—that of the arts festival. It’s not the application of a Western idea of an art fair onto your contemporary reality. Does that make sense?

MURAKAMI: It’s true that I pick up many ideas from different Japanese things. The way I formed my studio and how I organize things actually came out of the model of the Japanese animation studio and the manga industry. The manga industry is gigantic in Japan. There are so many layers to the business, like making a video, making a spin-off game, cards . . .

GINGERAS: And figurines and printed matter . . .

MURAKAMI: Yes, everything. It’s kind of like creating something like the Star Wars franchise. A single big hit for a manga studio means tons of money. One can gross more than a movie. The Japanese invented this industry. I’ve been immersed in manga since I was a kid. I grew up with this culture. So I started to think about how to compare manga to contemporary art. The contemporary art industry did not yet exist in Japan when I was starting out. Contemporary art and manga—what is the same about them? Nothing, right? The manga industry has a lot of talented people, but contemporary art works on more of a solitary model. No one embarks on collaboration in contemporary art in order to make money. But in the manga world, everyone is invested in collaboration. The most important point is that the manga industry constantly encourages new creations and creators.

GINGERAS: Like passing the creative baton?

MURAKAMI: Yeah. Manga culture grows and educates these artists. So I learned from that experience. Manga uses Japanese traditional structures in how to teach the student and to transmit a very direct message. You learn from the teacher by watching from behind his back. The whole teacher-master thing is part of Asian culture, I think. So I guess I agree with you in that respect.

GINGERAS: That’s why I think that your inclusion in the Pop Life show almost misrepresents you. In a way, it positions you as part of a legacy that comes out of Andy Warhol. Of course, your work—and the way you work—has a relationship to Warhol and his notion of business art. But I think it also has this whole other side that has no roots in Warhol.

MURAKAMI: I’m very sad to be compared with Warhol and The Factory, because I have no drugs, you know. [Gingeras laughs] We have no drug culture in Japan! Maybe it’s because our attitude toward labor is totally different.

GINGERAS: Well, this whole comparison between your studio, Kaikai Kiki, and The Factory is a good myth that I’d like to blow out of the water. I’m really glad you brought up the whole subject of drug culture and the subculture that isn’t part of your studio. Yet, as a frequent visitor to your studio, it seems to me like you have a different kind of subcultural situation there. There is a frisson of something underneath what’s happening there—it’s not all just business. It’s not just pure capitalist productivity. Of course, you run your studio very well, but there’s this other thing happening that’s interesting to me.

MURAKAMI: I don’t know . . . Maybe it’s interesting from the outside, but on the inside . . .

GINGERAS: It’s not?

MURAKAMI: Maybe it was the same at Warhol’s Factory.

GINGERAS: Well, maybe when he had Andy Warhol Enterprises in the ’70s and ’80s, when he was producing Interview and Andy Warhol’s TV and the commissioned portraits, there wasn’t an open drug culture . . . I suppose there was always one around Studio 54.

MURAKAMI: Well, Warhol’s studio transformation was very dramatic. But our studio has no drama. It’s very quiet. [laughs]

GINGERAS: But aren’t a lot of the people who work with you part of the whole otaku subcultural scene?

MURAKAMI: [laughs] This is an overimagination, I think. There are only a few of this type of otaku people in my studio.

GINGERAS: I have these fantasies about these quiet, hardworking girls in the studio who then transform into gothic-lolita French maids—the whole cosplay thing.

MURAKAMI: Yeah, exactly. This morning I was talking with my assistant who came with me to New York from Japan. He was pointing out this guy, SHISHO [Murakami’s painting studio director], who came from Japan at the time to work at the New York studio, he is always working very hard. But he’s a total otaku. He’s what we call geek people. These otakus are so intense. They can be focused for a very long time—like, eight hours! I told the studio director in New York, “We need more geek people in the studio just like SHISHO!” [laughs]

GINGERAS: Well, the whole thing about otaku is their obsessiveness, right?

MURAKAMI: Yes. I asked SHISHO to recruit more of them—especially for the Japan studio.

GINGERAS: Your founding in 2008 of the School Festival Executive Committee—this community of obsessed and freaky young kids in the otaku world—actually did seem like the 21st-century version of Warhol to me.

MURAKAMI: Yeah, they were a bunch of otakus—totally geek people.

GINGERAS: When I experienced that School Festival at Geisai a couple of years ago, I was thinking that this community is as crazy as the whole Velvet Underground scene must have been in the ’60s. I thought, This is the most far-out, crazy, alternative culture I’ve ever experienced firsthand.

MURAKAMI: Yes, yes. But that version of Geisai in 2008 has become like a memorial date. You remember? The next day . . . Crash! [laughs]

GINGERAS: That’s right. It was right before the whole economic crash.

MURAKAMI: I spent $8 million to organize that year’s Geisai and School Festival Executive Committee. It was a bubble—and the bubble burst the following day.

GINGERAS: Well, you had a premonition to throw the biggest party, anticipating the bubble burst.

MURAKAMI: I so enjoyed it.

GINGERAS: You have no regrets?

MURAKAMI: Well, I could share it with so many people like you. It was and still is a very happy moment. I don’t regret it. It was a really nice experience for me. But now I’m still doing Geisai but with a much smaller budget.

GINGERAS: What’s going on with your Los Angeles studio? I heard that you have a space there? I’m very curious.

MURAKAMI: Shut up! [both laugh] Nothing is happening! I’m just renting a huge studio office in Hollywood .

GINGERAS: So it’s just empty? Marika’s [Shishido, Murakami’s media relations coordinator] just there doing e-mail?

MURAKAMI: I just pay rent. [laughs]

GINGERAS: But do you plan to establish your animation studio there?

MURAKAMI: It’s very possible—it’s an idea, yes. But now I’m making a bar [Editor’s note: The planned location of the bar is Los Angeles, but plans are tentative and still in very preliminary stages of preparation].


MURAKAMI: Yeah. It’s something . . . I don’t know. It’s supposed to be like a Japanese-style social thing—like sake and sh¯och¯u [an alcoholic drink distilled from barley, sweet potatoes, or rice].

GINGERAS: I was first introduced to sh¯och¯u thanks to you. Now I love it. But you don’t like to drink, so why are you going to open a bar? Is there a concept behind it?

MURAKAMI: Basically it’s that I’m a foreigner, but I really love American culture. That’s why I come here—I’m always looking for ways to connect myself with American people and that American feeling. I’m trying to pick up on the feeling of places, like the Los Angeles feeling or the New York feeling . . . Los Angeles is much better for me that way.

GINGERAS: Why is that?

MURAKAMI: The weather is warm.

GINGERAS: [laughs] That’s it?

MURAKAMI: Also, the people are fun. They laugh a lot.

GINGERAS: Better quality of life out there?

MURAKAMI: Yeah. But New York City is still the art capital—every time I’m in New York, I’m thinking about competition.

GINGERAS: So you are going to keep the Kaikai Kiki painting and sculpture studio in New York?

MURAKAMI: Yeah, because New York is the place you make meetings. But in Los Angeles, it’s about relaxing—just going to lunches and dinners. Everywhere the food tastes very good.

GINGERAS: Tell me more about the bar then.

MURAKAMI: I don’t know. It’s just my dream. Another of my dreams is to have a water business.

GINGERAS: A water business? Like Murakami bottled water?

MURAKAMI: Exactly. It’s a natural concept because I realized the U.S. is really big, so maybe I’ll be able to find a good spring. [laughs] It will be my original type of Evian or something like that. So this is my dream. It’s like having a garden for the lotus plants. I am super-focused on the lotuses all the time.

GINGERAS: So it relates back to your breeding.

MURAKAMI: Yes. I’m thinking about water and then maybe some sh¯och¯u stuff.

GINGERAS: Would you make your own sh¯och¯u?

MURAKAMI: I’m already experimenting on making the sh¯och¯u in my studio—and also preparing the schedule by which we will make it. [laughs]

GINGERAS: There’s a chart for the sh¯och¯u?


GINGERAS: What are you making it with? Barley? Potato? Because there are different types . . .


GINGERAS: So you’ll have to plant some potato fields in L.A.?

MURAKAMI: I don’t know that yet, but it could be possible . . . Maybe.

GINGERAS: You can hire me! I would love to be your director of sh¯och¯u.

MURAKAMI: But that’s why I want to start the bar. It’s all linked with my dream. Every time I start a new business, I’m looking for the niche market. The sake market is already fixed, but nobody knows sh¯och¯u in America . . . Almost nobody.

GINGERAS: Are you going to continue making your Kaikai Kiki animation film? Doesn’t it have three chapters so far?

MURAKAMI: Yes, but now it’s going to be feature-length, so I’ll throw out the first three parts. I’m remaking it—now it looks like Star Wars [1977]. You know, it’s a saga, like a space battle.

GINGERAS: Do you have a projected release date for it?

MURAKAMI: Not yet.

GINGERAS: When I saw the first chapter of the Kaikai and Kiki animated film—you gave me the DVD when we arrived in Tokyo—I was sitting in the hotel watching it with my 2-year-old daughter. It’s in Japanese, with subtitles, and yet she was completely mesmerized—more than I’ve seen her while watching any Disney movie.

MURAKAMI: Oh, yeah? Thank you.

GINGERAS: If you really start producing animation, you will be—or maybe you already are—the Walt Disney of the 21st century. But I marvel at how incredibly culturally specific the animation is in terms of its Japanese-ness. It just has such a seductive appeal. It’s so accessible.

MURAKAMI: But my dream is to be in the water business! [laughs]

GINGERAS: Okay, so the water business is number one. What’s the hierarchy of your dreams then? One is the water business.


GINGERAS: Number two?

MURAKAMI: Number two is animation.

GINGERAS: Number three?

MURAKAMI: Number three is the breeding.

GINGERAS: Dogs, lotuses, and cactuses. Okay, and number four?

MURAKAMI: Number four is worrying about how I will make my death. I’d like to make a scenario about how and when I will die. Suicide or . . . I don’t know . . . cancer. [laughs]

GINGERAS: You want to plan your own death?

MURAKAMI: Yeah. I want to make it a surprise—like a crime or something like that. You know, I’m an artist—I’m joking. [laughs] But this joke is very . . .

GINGERAS: But so many artists are obsessed with death.

MURAKAMI: It’s kind of a running joke. At the opening party for my show at Gagosian, Jeff [Poe, art dealer, co-owner of Blum & Poe] was saying, “What, Takashi? Don’t tell me about death! Don’t tell me suicide. Fuck you, Takashi.” [laughs] He was so serious. The next morning I went to meet with my assistant, Marika, and Jeff was super seriously talking with her. He was saying, “Marika, why is Takashi talking to me about suicide? Has he been down? Maybe he’s tired.” But this death thing is maybe an artist thing. It’s something most artists think about. Inventing a death scenario . . . I still don’t know yet.

GINGERAS: Do you feel your dark side?

MURAKAMI: I don’t think so. I think we are thinking about making history—history related to birth and death. That is history.

GINGERAS: Art is kind of about beating your own death, right?

MURAKAMI: I would be very sad if I got Alzheimer’s . . . I would not be able to make good things anymore. Marcel Duchamp was playing chess when he died, which is okay, you know . . . But it is very sad to make a very bad painting or something. I don’t want to do that.

GINGERAS: That’s your worst nightmare?

MURAKAMI: Yeah. That’s why I’m thinking about suicide or something. Inventing a scenario . . . Which brings us to number five. Number five is taking care of our company, Kaikai Kiki, and making paintings.

GINGERAS: And included in number five, would that also include taking care of the artists that are in your circle—the ones you’ve managed and helped foster?


GINGERAS: Are you still very involved in helping the careers of all these artists?

MURAKAMI: Yes. Now I am focusing on their education, because the art market is in a little bit of a twisted state. So we have to change and figure out what is the future way, because the art world also has changed.

GINGERAS: Is that why you’re doing Geisai University?

MURAKAMI: Oh, yeah. Well, it came from many ideas.

GINGERAS: Can you explain maybe just a little bit about Geisai University?

MURAKAMI: It’s just a lecture series. It’s a lot like in New York City where you have readings in bookstores. It’s like when a philosopher comes and talks for 90 minutes and then there’s a question-and-answer period. Something like that. It’s very funny.

GINGERAS: Anytime I’ve worked with you on a show—most recently both in London and Venice—we’ve done this Shinto ceremony and offering to bless your installation when we finished. Maybe it’s surprising to hear about this respect for ritual and tradition for people who don’t know you. But behind the scenes, there’s also this kind of spirituality that’s part of your work.

MURAKAMI: Yeah, but, you know, Asian people just do that. [laughs] Like even Jackie Chan makes some ceremony before he starts to shoot a movie.

GINGERAS: Beyond the ceremonies, would you say that you give import to these Shinto and Buddhist calendars? Do different aspects of religious or spiritual thought become more important for you as time goes on?

MURAKAMI: I don’t know. I met this master recently from Taiwan. He is taking care of me constantly, but I totally didn’t believe in supernatural powers before I met him. Now I believe a little bit . . . Or not . . . I don’t know. Because I have a pain here . . . [gestures to leg]

GINGERAS: In your knee?

MURAKAMI: Yes. And this guy just goes [waves hand] like that and, oops, there’s no more pain. I asked him how. He said, “I take care of it. The god came from nowhere. It’s in my hand!” [laughs] Okay! I said, “Your hand? Really?” He said, “Yes.” Something like that. So funny. But he will not accept any money from me.

GINGERAS: How did you meet this guy?

MURAKAMI: Through a Taiwanese friend. She is now the producer in Taiwan of Geisai. She introduced me. He is a very famous guy.

GINGERAS: Is he like a monk? What does he do?

MURAKAMI: No. I don’t know. Maybe he’s a psychic.

GINGERAS: Like a psychic?

MURAKAMI: Yeah, but everything is free. It’s really strange and very scary. For example, he took care of me a lot and, finally, I gave him a red envelope. Inside there’s like $3,000 for him and I thanked him very much. He says, “Oh, thank you,” and then he took out these dollars and gave them back to me. I asked: “What is this ceremony? I don’t understand.” Next time I gave him $9,000 and the same thing happened—he gave it back. I totally did not understand. When I went to his house in Taiwan, I saw that he is not at all rich—in fact he’s really poor. When I asked him about this whole situation, he said, “Because this is what god said.”

GINGERAS: God said he should be poor?

MURAKAMI: I don’t know. It’s a really strange family.

GINGERAS: Have you spent a lot of time in Taipei recently?

MURAKAMI: Yes, because we’re making a gallery there.

GINGERAS: A gallery to host exhibitions?


GINGERAS: Why Taipei?

MURAKAMI: Because of this friend who is a producer. We developed a really strong friendship.

GINGERAS: But is there an interesting art scene there?

MURAKAMI: I don’t know. He just asked me to make an advertising campaign and I said I wasn’t interested, but I told him that if he had a gallery, he could collect all the paintings and sculptures we show there. So we just thought it was a good idea.

GINGERAS: What are you going to show there?

MURAKAMI: I don’t know yet. I’m making it up a little bit at a time, step by step.

GINGERAS: Do you think that it will be mostly Japanese artists, or are you going to mix everything?

MURAKAMI: Mix everything, I hope.

GINGERAS: Aren’t you also collecting contemporary art?

MURAKAMI: Yes! Right now is a very good time to buy at auction—especially in the Asian local markets. It’s very cheap.

GINGERAS: Are you mostly buying Asian artists?


GINGERAS: How do you feel about the most recent generation of Chinese artists—the so-called cynical-realism guys?

MURAKAMI: I don’t buy Chinese artists.

GINGERAS: What about Western artists?

MURAKAMI: I collect them a little bit. But it has been quiet with Western artists. I’m not sure what’s going on with the market. But the Asian market is really active.

GINGERAS: Well, there is a lot of commentary now about how there are serious art collectors who are coming from places in Asia and the Middle East that were not really part of the traditional demographic.

MURAKAMI: This is why Taipei and my activities in Taiwan are not a joke. It seems like a real art market will take hold there and that is why my friend wants to open a gallery. I still don’t know yet what is the reality of the Chinese market. But it’s not just about China—there’s also Singapore and Malaysia.

GINGERAS: Is it political for you to have a gallery in Taipei—to choose Taipei over a Chinese city?

MURAKAMI: Well, I could have opened a gallery in Hong Kong. It’s much better to link with the mainland Chinese market. Taiwan is very complicated for mainlanders. But so far, there is no real reaction to this choice.

GINGERAS: Are you interested more generally in politics?

MURAKAMI: I don’t think so.


MURAKAMI: Maybe a little bit because I’m getting old. You know, I can read the newspaper now—that’s why.

Alison Gingeras is chief curator of the François Pinault collection at the Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana in Venice, Italy.

via: interview magazine.