MCA presents Japanese artist Tabaimo’s multi-screen video work until 7th of September, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. MCA immerses gallery visitors within the constantly changing environments that combine hand-drawn imagery and sound.

Official description from the MCA 
Peering into hidden corners of the human psyche, they reveal a surreal world of beauty, anxiety and horror within. MEKURUMEKU imagines a world of uncertainty, in which layers are peeled back to reveal hidden truths for visitors to discover.

Witness strange events unfold on a Japanese commuter train, peer through apartment windows to see private lives exposed, and venture through a digital ocean which unfolds about your body, revealing nature in states of transformation.

Drawn by hand then animated on the computer, Tabaimo’s images sit between tradition and modernity, recalling Edo-period Japanese woodblock prints in their line work and style. She employs rich colour combinations and shading reminiscent of the prints of master artist Hokusai (1760–1849). Set in motion as animated sequences of imagery in theatrical, set-like spaces, the resulting works peer into hidden corners of the human psyche to reveal a world of beauty, anxiety and horror.

The title MEKURUMEKU suggests a ‘tearing apart’ of layers to reveal hidden truths within. The artist’s video installations do not follow one narrative trajectory and have no single message to convey. Rather, they seek to reveal what she describes as ‘aspects of what is hidden’ in ordinary public life. Individual works are linked in their dream-like, surreal quality: moments of irrationality and violence erupt then disappear again behind a veneer of public civility. Evoking the world about us, but also one within, they sit between the public sphere and an equally immense, private world of the individual unconscious.

Tabaimo encourages gallery visitors to use their bodies and engage physically as they move through her video installations. Her carefully designed architecture channels visitors through space: surrounding them with projected imagery from in front and behind, as well as overhead and sometimes even beneath their feet. In today’s entertainment culture, she observes, we have become used to sitting passively and watching events before us. Her works offer an alternative, immersing us within their shifting imagery and dynamic spaces.

For her MCA Australia solo exhibition, Tabaimo presents six video installations from the early 2000s to the present, as well as a suite of delicate drawings that illustrate her creative process. Introducing the MCA’s Level 1 south galleries is Japanese Commuter Train (2001), a six-screen hexagonal installation that mimics the interior of a conventional passenger train. People come and go, apartment blocks flash by the windows and strange, unexpected events take place as though in a dream. Haunted House (2003) is a circular projection that glides back and forth across a curved screen, like a periscope, to reveal a dense urban landscape within which moments of violence quietly unfold. The single projection dolefullhouse (2007) depicts a doll’s house and giant human hands manipulating its contents.

The ocean forms a recurring motif within Tabaimo’s art, as a meditative and destructive natural force beyond human control. In the Level 1 north gallery,BLOW (2009) comprises a large cylindrical structure that viewers walk through, like a tunnel, as watery bubbles swirl beneath their feet. Also included are two major new installations commissioned for the MCA that imagine parallel worlds in micro and macrocosm, travelling through the human body to the vastness of the ocean beyond.

Tabaimo was born in Hyogo, Japan in 1975;
she lives and works in Nagano. 

Visit the official exhibition website:


Image credit: Tabaimo, Production image for mekuru meku ru , 2014, image courtesy the artist, James Cohan Gallery, New York and Shanghai, and Gallery Koyanagi, Tokyo, © the artist 

Source: MCA
(original Text by Rachel Kent, Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia)