Traces of Disappearance

January 18th - April 13th 2014

Graphic by © Hideki Inaba, 2013

Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo
“Traces of Disappearance”

Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo presents Traces of Disappearance, featuring Anne and Patrick Poirier, Kasper Kovitz, Goang-Ming Yuan and Naoya Hatakeyama.

Traces of Disappearance is an exhibition conceived by curators Murielle Hladik and Eva Kraus, inviting visitors to reflect upon the current condition of a fragile world. Using a wide diversity of media, artistic approaches and discourse, the questions that the Artists and their works broach help us to capture what is about to vanish.

The site-specific artworks produced at Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo raise, amongst others, the questions of ephemerality and the passage of time. Like human beings, artifacts are not eternal, but subject to the machinations of time. Starting from the contradiction between preservation and decay, the Artists embrace the idea of time by means of philosophical concepts and aesthetic qualities.

Emphasizing the 'evanescent', the Artists’ works stimulate our desire for silence and contemplation. Across a single united floor, they take us alternatively on a journey through recorded and unrecorded collective memories (Poirier, The Soul of the World), through a “sacred place” (Kovitz, The Sheer Size of It), through an ideal place (Hatakeyama, Mont Ventoux), or even through an artificial natural world recreated using digital media (Yuan, Disappearing Landscape – Reason to Be a Leaf).

For this unusual exploration of the passage of time, Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo expresses its gratitude to the curators, Murielle Hladik and Eva Kraus, to the Artists, to the Austrian and French Embassies and to Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan for their kind and renewed support throughout the whole exhibition preparation.


©Louis Vuitton / Jérémie Souteyrat

Naoya Hatakeyama

Naoya Hatakeyama was born in 1958 in Japan, in Rikuzentakata in Iwate Prefecture. In 1997, he received the Kimura Ihei Prize for Photography and the Mainichi Art Award in 2001. In 2001, he participated in the Fast and slow exhibition at the Japanese Pavilion for the Venice International Art Biennale. Prize awarded by the Japanese Ministry of Education for his exhibition Natural Stories at the Museum of Photography in Tokyo in 2011, thereafter the exhibition was presented at the Huis Marseille Museum in Amsterdam and in 2012 at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. In 2012, alongside Architect Toyo Ito he was highly involved in the exhibition Architecture. Possible here? Home-for-All (Japanese Pavilion, for the Venice International Architecture Biennale & winner of the Golden Lion). Among many works his signature adorns Lime Works (Seigensha, 1996, 2008), Underground (Media Factory, 2000), Hanasu shashin / Photography speaks (Shogakukan, 2010), Terrils (Light Motiv, 2011), Blast (Shogakukan, 2013).

©Louis Vuitton / Jérémie Souteyrat

Kasper Kovitz

Born in Austria in 1968, Kasper Kovitz, holds a MFA from the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. He lives and works in Los Angeles (California/USA) and Beirut (Lebanon), where he also teaches as an assistant professor at the AUB (American University of Beirut). Throughout the last decades he has won several residencies, as the ISCP 1998/2009 in New York, as well as prizes and grants, for example the Pollock Krasner Foundation grant (2009). His pieces have been exhibited in numerous shows in Europe, such as his solo show Body Language at the Saatchi Gallery (London, 2013) and sunset:delayed at the MAK, Austrian Museum for Applied Arts/Contemporary Art (Vienna, 2007). Both institutions hold his work within their collection. His comprehensive oeuvre contains painting, sculpture, installation and land art. With a focus on landscape and a profound connection to nature, he explores non-traditional materials to reconsider iconic imagery.

©Louis Vuitton / Jérémie Souteyrat

Anne and Patrick Poirier

After studying at the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris, Anne and Patrick Poirier resided at the Villa Medici in Rome (1967-1971). Their passage through Japan, where they participated to the French Pavilion for Expo '70 Osaka, followed by their return via the ruins of Angkor, has guided their thinking along the lines of the fragility of civilizations. Recognized internationally, from the early Documenta VI (1971), their works, which intersect literary, philosophical, historical, archaeological and architectural references, have been exhibited worldwide.
In the forty plus years they have worked together, they have created a plethora of exhibitions: Neue Gallery Samlung Ludwig, Aachen, 1973; The Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.), Berlin 1977; Centre George Pompidou, Paris, 1978; MoMA, New York, 1979; Festival d’Automne, Chapelle de la Salpêtrière, Paris, 1983; Chiesa san Carpoforo, Milan, 1984; Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna, 1993; the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, 2001 and have twice presented their work in Japan (Seibu Museum of Art, Tokyo, 1985 and Gallery Francony-Aoyama, Tokyo, 1991).
More recently, they have achieved many garden projects in Italy and France, including the monumental project underway (Il Gardiano della memoria, Gorgonzola, Italy).

©Louis Vuitton / Jérémie Souteyrat

Goang-Ming Yuan

Born in Taipei in 1965, Goang-Ming Yuan is a pioneer of video art in Taiwan. Working with video since 1984, he received a Master’s degree in Media Art from the Academy of Design, Karlsruhe (1997). He currently holds a post as the Assistant Professor at the New Media Arts program of Taipei National University of Arts.
Yuan has been invited to participate in various exhibitions across Asia, Europe, and America, such as: Limbo Zone in the 50th Venice Biennale (Taiwan Pavilion), 010101: Art in Technological Times at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, ICC Biennale (1997) in Japan, Guangzhou Triennial (2005) in China, Liverpool Biennial (2004) in United Kingdom, Auckland Triennial (2004) in New Zealand, Singapore Biennale (2008), Taipei Biennial (1998, 1996, 1992), and Gwangju Biennale (2002) in South Korea.
His work is part of international public and private collections. He has also been on the Collections Committee of Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei Arts Award, Taipei County Arts Award, Public Art, Venice Biennale (Taiwan Pavilion) and the juror of Asia Society Arts Award in the United States.
In his work Goang-Ming Yuan is combining symbolic metaphors with technological media, his work eloquently expresses the state of contemporary existence and profoundly explores the human mind and consciousness.


Naoya Hatakeyama

Mont Ventoux, 2005/2013

Consisting of a series of 12 C-Prints images
100 × 49 cm,
framing structure 63 x 114 cm

Courtesy of the Artist
Printed with the support of
Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo
©Louis Vuitton / Jérémie Souteyrat

"I exulted in my progress, I mourned my imperfection and I deplored the ordinary mutability of human affairs."

Petrarch, Mont Ventoux, 1336 (trans. Victor Develay)

The series of 12 photographs of Naoya Hatakeyama is like a narrative, an experience that talks to us of very concrete earthly things: earth, sky and light. Light grazes the "skin of the earth." This mother nature - this natural beauty - to which we owe respect.
For the humanist poet, Petrarch, climbing Mont Ventoux in 1336, the mountain is still an object of contemplation, a place of extreme strangeness, but also of bliss. While Adorno in the footsteps of Nietzsche at Sils Maria, describes the mountain as ripped apart, Naoya Hatakeyama's photographs of Mont Ventoux evoke both the extreme beauty of the sublime jagged, ripped and inhospitable nature, with all its dangers, and also quiet contemplation and a return of inner peace.
Experiencing this climb, is to climb towards a pinnacle that can only be reached by one narrow path to finally reach the heavens and the firmament: to reach the spiritual world or, in other words, to 'leave the body' to seek a distanced view, a "glimpse from afar" (Zeami, Riken no ken).

Kasper Kovitz

The Sheer Size of It, 2013

Candy on plexi-glass
Diameter: 710 cm

Work with the support of
Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo
©Louis Vuitton / Jérémie Souteyrat

"I've been around the world several times, and now only banality still interests me." Sans Soleil, Chris Marker
Utopia has two equally possible translations as 'good place' and 'no place'. I found on the street one day a discarded religious publication and in it illustrations of a paradise. I was immediately struck, a room full of anonymous illustrators in the headquarters of a religious sect diligently conjuring the afterlife, free from artistic pretensions merely elucidating the 'facts' of paradise, a banal narrative of harmonious coexistence in an idealized landscape. The paradise I present here is a compilation of disparate images from this literature.
I imagine that there was not really any agony that went into making these choices of picturing paradise- the buildings are the same generic architecture as any U.S. exurbia, the subjects are dressed as regular folks, even the gravestone is the 'economy model' of any contemporary funeral home in America. The mise-en-scene is uncannily familiar because it is made of images that structure our collective unconscious: a figure of a lion emphatically hugging a sheep and a nuclear family after a happy harvest in the foreground of an idyllic landscape. I have a great affection for these uncomplicated approaches to imagination. For me, all of these questions become an agony of choices to be made.
Upon a closer look though, even in this 'effortless' illustration, the paradise reflects the double meaning of utopia: plenty and abundant life here is haunted by the specter of finitude as it is punctured by antagonism, discontent and discomfort: a racially marked subject standing alone; a gravestone—Et In Arcadia Ego. There is a sailboat on the river, a vessel of recreation—recreation in paradise? Isn’t paradise nothing else but recreation? Who harvests there?
I supplemented my montage of these 'works' with elements of other, similar illustrations. My best source for these was from an individual I found on the web who made it his task to expose demonic faces in these religious illustrations by zooming in on hair-licks or dress folds under the armpits. The ideal and the utopian image of the afterlife emerge as another kitsch object for consumption. Hence, the choice of material for my work, whose function is indexical rather than symbolic. After all, candy is the first currency that any child growing up in first or second world countries can comprehend.
Thinking about a reconstruction of the illustrators’ work in a different format and with different materials, with the particular choices that I faced in the process, I realized that for me, a non-believer, the subject of paradise had to be a grotesque one in terms of its size and materials. The process had to reflect a futile (because of its temporality), enormous undertaking. So, the landscape is now not simply punctured by the image that diverts from its endemic language of universal peace and harmony but, most importantly, by its size and the process of its material decomposition as the more than 100.000 individual candies melt into each other.
To produce this work was impossible for me alone and because of the typical financial constraints of most artists, I made a call for help to my immediate community. The result was that my neighborhood in Los Angeles rallied and came out in force to help. Friends brought their friends and we worked together on this seemingly endless task of constructing an image of a paradise together. This is and will be the most enduring and endearing memory that I carry away from this project.”

Kasper Kovitz, Beirut, November 2013

Anne & Patrick Poirier

The Soul of the World (“Anima mundi”), 2013/2014

Cone in metal
Diameter: 600 cm / height: 700 cm
A ‘living sculpture with living birds’

Work with the support of
Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo
©Louis Vuitton / Jérémie Souteyrat

The soul of the world (Anima mundi) is in danger.... Huge metal structure housing birds, fragile and delicate living beings: reflecting our ecosystem in danger, our urban environment where hyper-modernity areas combining technology and speed overlap with more calm and meditative areas. Soaking up the spirit of the place, and the light of the Espace Louis Vuitton and the sprawling city of Tokyo, Anne and Patrick Poirier offer us a Tokyo "cone of memory": sending links to each of us, to the utmost depths of our personal memories and our collective memory.

"Entering into the luminosity of Louis Vuitton Tokyo, overlooking the city of Tokyo, giving this space a "soul"... a soul so fragile at the center of this huge city of Tokyo.
A soul ? A soul provided by the elegant birds residing in another space within the space. We are building a "habitat" for the birds, giving it a conical shape as described by H.Bergson in his chapter on Memory in "Material and Memory ".
We are positioning this great aviary here, leaving the point of the cone reaching towards heaven...
On the floor, red words represent fragile memory, blue words, in our minds, being metaphors of oblivion...
Words that encompass this idea of fragility...of memory...
These ties are stretched from the ceiling on which are written words that encompass this idea of fragility...of remembrance...
Natural and fleeting sounds, fragile, shatter the silence of the space = friction, beating of wings and the gentle song of the doves...
The space itself intermingles with the aviary which is at its center...
It is such a fragile whole...birds...tiny...fragile...

Anne and Patrick Poirier

De Natura Rerum, 2013/2014

Triptych, imprints, Japanese paper
80 × 120 cm

Courtesy of the Artists
©Louis Vuitton / Jérémie Souteyrat

"Thus the nature of the world changes with time. Time is an incessant change from one state to another"

Lucretius, De Natura Rerum (Book V)

Impressions on paper: showing the fragility of things, sculptures, faces, inanimate objects and human beings ... From the beginning of their archaeological findings, Anne and Patrick Poirier have used Japanese paper to create moulds / impressions, allowing them to follow an ephemeral line: a fragile virtual reflection of fragments, of places they have explored and surveyed. The impression on paper is a lightweight yet extremely fragile medium, doomed to extinction.

The sheets of paper created from enlarged photographs display their veins, the skeleton and the frame that supports them acting like the rising of sap: the life line.

Goang-Ming Yuan

Disappearing Landscape - Reason to be a Leaf, 2007/2013

Video installation
9 min

Courtesy of the artist and TKG+,
Taipei and Beijing
Reedited with the support of
Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo
©Louis Vuitton / Jérémie Souteyrat

What Yuan did in City Disqualified—Ximen District with the city was to retouch the chosen scene by removing anything that moved, especially humans and vehicles, through painstaking photographic and computer-aided post-producing process. In Yuan’s work, the city that had been disqualified was indeed a city de-populated.

Adopting similar technical concept, Yuan took on the seemingly inconspicuous twigs and leaves in the new series, also titled Disappearing Landscape. Yuan had the twigs and leaves scanned first and reworked them through post-production by removing the veins of all the leaves. Like the disqualified cities, the leaves are not only deleted of their individual character, but also deprived of their identities, though still retaining their visual and aesthetic beauty. Such de-contextualization, thus, creates a flattened out homogeneity that shows no perspectival depth, reflecting metaphorically our common state of being in today’s globalized world.

Yuan has always been keen in questioning the reality by tweaking and deeming it suspicious, doubtful, or even problematic. The image of the twigs and leaves as re-represented by Yuan also serves to evoke people’s disbelief in the spectacle constantly produced by contemporary media.

By Chia Chi Jason WANG


Making of "Traces of Disappearance" (5'51")


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