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Lee Mingwei and His Relations. / 24 September 2014

From the poster for the exhibition, this image shows the artist handing over a Gerbera to a female recipient. There is a text bubble with the words 'gift-giving

Take Part, Make Art information poster

Zoom in to this image and read text description


I'm lucky to be able to do two Mori Arts Centre Exhibitions this visit. Opened on Saturday 20th September, Lee Mingwei and His Relations, is an interactive exhibition introducing projects from the last 20 years by this artist known for his participatory art.

Take Part, Make Art he invites the public; the exhibition also aims to unfold the relationship between himself and artists from different times and different places including Hakuin, D.T. Suzuki, John Cage, Yves Klien and Ozawa Tsuyoshi.

The exhibition aims to prompt the audience to explore how we connect to the world; not just friends and family but also community and socio-political relationships. And to think about our relationship with nature and with history.

There were some less accessible aspects, like work in table-type cabinets, or on the floor (a large piece in progress viewed from a platform), and I did feel a little left out. The floor piece, an interpretation in sand of Picasso's Guernica, only made sense on the level because I know the work being interpreted. Halfway through the exhibition visitors will be invited to complete the work by walking on it.

Some elegant wood and opaque white plastic booths, each one step up and with instructions to remove your shoes, invited people to write letters on thick white paper and put them in matching envelopes either to be posted to the addressee (seal the envelop) or read by other visitors (leave the envelop open). The artist suggested unsaid thank-you-s or apologies.
Someone offered to fetch paper and pencil for me so I wrote the artist, explaining that I'd have enjoyed this bit more with independent access, but did enjoy the unexpected conversation.

A waving line of brightly coloured Gerbera invited people to take a flower, but only on condition that they took a different route home and gave the flower to a stranger met on the way. 
An irresistible offer; I chose a strong orange colour. Came home via a coffee shop with a surprisingly good caramel pudding frappuccino, got waved to, smiled at and photographed by complete strangers. Rising up in the platform lift at the station, I attracted a lot of attention and set about an impromptu performance. 
The Gerbera which I'd been invited to keep watered via a small plastic bag with water tied around its stem was all set for its own adventure.


Am I thinking too much, trying
too hard to comprehend Japan
and it's people? The normally
reserved-in-public Japanese
art-lover, blossomed into an
interactive enthusiast
hosted by plain-clothes museum
staff. Taking over the sitting
room installation with friendly
familiarity, noisy
chatter; in impromptu party
style, making it hard to draw a line
between artist, facilitator,
and other people just like me.