Tam Ochiai: Tapetum Lucidum at Maison Hermes Le Forum, Tokyo

Tam Ochiai
Tapetum Lucidum
Maison Hermes Le Forum, Tokyo
〒104-0061 Tokyo, Chuo City
Ginza, 5 Chome−4−1 8階
January 22 – April 11, 2021
All images copyright and courtesy of the artist(s) and Maison Hermes Le Forum, Tokyo

The Fondation Hermès presents a solo exhibition by New York-based artist Tam Ochiai (born 1967 in Kanagawa Prefecture). In Japan, Ochiai’s work has been introduced through the collections of the National Museum of Art, Osaka and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, a solo exhibition at the Watari-um Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2010), group exhibitions at Art Tower Mito (2007) and Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2009), and participation in the Yokohama Triennale 2011. Ochiai’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Watari-um Art Museum (2010), Art Tower Mito (2007), the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art (2009) and the Yokohama Triennale 2011. Ochiai’s practice takes a variety of forms, including drawing, painting, sculpture, video, performance, poetry, writing and print. In each of his works, multiple time periods and fluid thoughts come and go, which can be described as the gestures of an artist who is in the process of forming and dismantling a concept, and then connecting it to the next thought.

This exhibition will feature a selection of works from Ochiai’s work over the last quarter of a century, including the series M.O, everyone has two places, ashtray sculpture, Itinerary, non? It proposes a free promenade within the chains and ruptures that each work leads to.

The title, Tapetum Lucidum, refers to the tapetum, a structure found in the eye of nocturnal animals. It is located on the outer surface of the retina and has the ability to capture and reflect the smallest amount of light in the dark, a phenomenon understood as the cat’s eyes glowing in the dark. This bright plate, which does not exist in human vision, seems to be a light and witty expression of Ochiai, who gathers light from things that we are not particularly aware of and reflects it for a moment. Although they seem to be fragments, they act as if they are constantly shifting from fragment to whole, never converging into a single narrative. Ochiai says, “The eye, reflecting light in a dark place, is in the middle of what is seen. If we think of this exhibition as the inside of the eyeball, then the world may symbolise an eternal middle ground where the seen and the seen are free to intersect.

The world is full of useful things and useless things, so why not think about the useless things? In the early 90’s, when I was a student in graduate school, I had a very unmotivated teacher, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, who said that he was only teaching for the money. He never had a studio, because if he had one and went there, he would feel intimidated to work… Now I think that he was the best teacher I ever had. I think he was the best teacher. — From the production notes of Tamu Ochiai’s “Itinerary, non?