Tomoko Takahshi

Tomoko Takahshi

Tomoko Takahashi's chaotic installations imbue ordinary objects with renewed life. Consisting of “found objects” and rubbish that the artist arranges in sprawling installations, Takahashi's displays may at first appear to be random piles of discarded refuse. Upon closer inspection, however, a sense of underlying order is revealed. Resisting clear-cut narrative “readings” Takahashi's installations are associative and abstract in nature, highly schematic yet also deeply intuitive.

Organized by Claudine Isé, assistant curator.

Tomoko Takahshi. Installation view at Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. October 6, 2002-January 5, 2003. Photo by Joshua White.


Unholy messes make many people nervous, but Tomoko Takahashi feels right at home in them. A pack rat who thinks big, the Japanese-born, London-based artist is known for making labyrinthine site-specific installations brimming with all manner of rubbish, culled mostly from curbsides, dumpsters, Recycler ads, and garage sales. To enter a Takahashi installation is to step into a topsy-turvy universe where objects seem to have taken on lives of their own. Clocks run on their time, not ours; precariously balanced object clusters seem to defy the laws of gravity, rivers of electrical wire snake their way through mountains of technological detritus, and translucent blue light streams from the unblinking eyes of television screens. To Angelenos in particular, Takahashi’s works may bring to mind the tumultuous aftereffects of a major earthquake, but in fact each of her installations is a painstakingly choreographed arrangement of interconnected, artfully chaotic tableaux. As such, her installations have more in common with stage sets than they do with disaster zones.

Not long after she was invited by the UCLA Hammer Museum to create her first major installation on the West Coast, Takahashi came across the Hammer’s unfinished auditorium, a cavernous concrete shell that will eventually become the museum’s new movie theater. She was immediately drawn to the raw, unfinished nature of the space, which had never been used for an art installation before. In the past she has created installations in art galleries and museums as well as in less traditional environments such as a tennis court (Tennis Court Piece, 2000) and a marketing firm (Company Deal, 1997), both in London, and a project gallery adjacent to Staff International, a New York fashion showroom and distribution company (Staff Stuff, 1998). For each new installation Takahashi gains intimate knowledge of a place by paying extremely close attention to the site’s physical and architectural dimensions as well as to the debris that has been left behind by those who work in or otherwise make use of the space.



This exhibition has been made possible through the generous support of The Japan Foundation Los Angeles Office, the British Consulate-General, Los Angeles, and the British Council.

In-kind support has been generously provided by the Doubletree Hotel, Los Angeles-Westwood.