CONTEMPORARY SITE-SPECIFIC INSTALLATION HANOI
Japanese “art unit” Paramodel recently wrapped up their exhibition at the Japanese Foundation Centre in Hanoi, entitled “the plastic model of paramodel is paramodel”. The exhibition incorporated local Vietnamese toys into their distinctive installation style.
The exhibition ran from 17 February to 11 March 2012. The show was a culmination of a two-week residency in the Japan Foundation Centre for Cultural Exchange in Vietnam. Their project included a workshop at the Hanoi College of Fine Arts that taught attendees how to create Paramodel installations, and even invited them to play with their artwork.
Paramodel exhibitions are always site-specific, incorporating local elements from the country where they are working. For this exhibition, the artists included several Vietnamese toys and everyday objects, such as local toy trucks, cranes and bricks.
I walked around the streets and let my eyes capture everything that makes up Ha Noi. I want all of my/our works to present the spirit of life.
The Hanoi exhibition also used Paramodel’s trademark plastic train systems. In previous exhibitions, the tracks were integrated into the local environment, whether floating on a pond, crossing over a traditional Japanese onsen bath, or extending out of the exhibition space onto the surrounding foliage. For their Hanoi show, Paramodel extended their abstract designs out onto the exterior of the Japan Foundation Centre. The expansive linkages invite the viewer to contemplate the borders between reality and fantasy, and how those boundaries are blurred in a child’s imagination.
Paramodel is an “art unit” founded in 2011 by Yasuhiko Hayashi and Yusuke Nakano, graduates of the Kyoto City University of Arts. Their name is a portmanteau of “paradise”, “paradox” and “model”, as well as a play on the Japanese word puramoderu, which means “plastic toy diorama”. The duo has exhibited in Indonesia, Singapore, China, Switzerland and Australia, and in 2008 they won Osaka City’s Sayuka Konohama Award.
They are known for their site-specific, large-scale installations, which incorporate children’s toys to create plastic dream worlds. The most common object in their repertoire is the Plarail, a beloved Japanese model train and track system made by Tomy Company since 1959. The bright blue tracks cover the floors, walls and ceiling, creating intricate webs that connect the entire exhibition space. Their exhibitions often include interactive events where children are invited to create sprawling train tracks. Apart from their installations, Paramodel also works in painting, sculpture, animation and photography. They are represented by Mori Yu Gallery in Tokyo, as well as by the online gallery Azito.
- Engaging tour of public sculptures in Taipei – Borneo Post Online – December 2011 – Taipei’s many public sculptures explore site-specificity
- Japanese artist Hirotoshi Iwasaki draws time with video – picture feast – August 2011 – another picture feast featuring a Japanese contemporary artist
- Yayoi Kusama ‘Dots Room’ enchants young child – video on Hyperallergic – July 2011 – a video of a child enjoying one of Yayoi Kusama’s mesmerising installations
- Animatrix Biennial – an alternative biennial pushes aesthetic of comic art – interview curator Victoria Lu – February 2010 – an interview with the curator of a unique biennial of cartoon art and other childhood themes
- Art toys – the latest hottest trend from Asia? – July 2009 – a report from the Taipei Toy Festival on the development of a new art medium
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