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Indepth Arts News:

"Makoto Aida: Donki-Hote"
2005-06-23 until 2005-07-31
IBID Projects
London, , UK United Kingdom

Man in the Holocene* and Ibid Projects are proud to present ‘Donki-Hôte’, the first solo show by acclaimed artist Makoto Aida outside of his native Japan. Born in Niigata in 1965, Aida has exhibited widely in museums and biennales around the world including the Suntory Museum, Osaka, The Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, The Fondation Cartier, Paris, The XXVth Biennale de Sao Paolo and the 2001 Yokohama Triennale. His work is represented in the collections of The Japan Foundation, the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art and the Tokyo Museum of Art.

‘Donki-Hôte’ takes its name from a chain of Tokyo discount stores, Don Quixote, which themselves take their name from Miguel de Cervantes’ ‘The Adventures of Don Quixote de la Mancha’ (1605), commonly understood to be the first novel ever published. With its phonetic spelling, ‘Donki-Hôte’ suggests Aida’s theme: the meltdown of meaning across space and time. The act of translation, as in Sophia Coppola’s Tokyo-set movie ‘Lost in Translation’ (2003), is here presented as, at best, an act of mutation, catalysed by the fallout of post-WWII Japanese-US relations, from the 1945 Hiroshima bomb to Japan’s participation in the American-led ‘War on Terror’.

Martin Amis has written of Cervantes’ novel that ‘it is the saddest story. Don Quixote de la Mancha, the great artist manqué: he attempted to live what he could not write’. In Aida’s ‘A Video Shot by a Man who Calls Himself Bin Laden Who is Hiding in Japan’ (2005), we are presented with an artist manqué, or his opposite - a terrorist growing chubby on tempura in his tatami-matted hideout, or an artist who sublimates his anger at US neo-colonialism into bizarre, Al Jazeera-bound broadcasts. This work is complemented by calligraphic prints exploring Aida’s belief that ‘man, like all animals, should only speak one language’, and bonsai trees that sprout human body parts from their carefully clipped boughs, to what must be their keeper’s mixed moral and aesthetic horror. The pieces in ‘Donki-Hôte’ are signposts intended to help us negotiate our contemporary Babel, albeit ones that (because signposts are eminently mis-translatable) risk propelling us down blind alleys and stony paths.

Makoto Aida
Giant Salamander, 2003

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