‘Feel free to take a rubber band out of the box, and pass your body through it’. This playful suggestion was sketched onto the wall of the Wilkinson Gallery in 2004. The artist could see the worth in doing frivolous things, and his audience was invited to take delight in such frivolity. Seven years later, Berlin-based, Japanese artist Shimabuku was again lauded, this time by The Guardian, for his ability to make the familiar strange, and to cast the conventional in a magical light.
Now, in 2013, you are again summoned to behold the work of the Japanese trickster, as the Ikon gallery presents the first major survey of Shimabuku’s work, spanning a great number of the art genres; installation, drawing, sculpture, and video, and spanning a great number of years; from his emergence in the early 90’s to the present day.
Drawing its name from the artist’s 2008 piece, ‘Something that Floats / Something that Sinks’, exploring the varying densities of everyday pieces of fruit and vegetables, the exhibition sublimely encapsulates Shimabuku’s work, drawing from those pieces made here in the UK – ‘Tour of Europe with One Eyebrow Shaved’ (1991) and ‘Shimabuku’s Fish and Chips’ (2006) – alongside those created abroad – ‘Then, I decided to give a Tour of Tokyo to an Octopus from Akashi’ (2000).
Shimabuku’s work provokes new perspectives and revitalises tired perceptions of seeming mundanities. Expect to leave reevaluating what you thought to be extraordinary, for through his eyes, you will experience the world around you for the first time.
Image credit: Shimabuku, Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere (1994). Performance / photograph. Courtesy the artist.
Words: Susie Dickie