Journeying into the Chelsea galleries this week, one of the first things we were told was ‘our minds would be blown’ by all of the new shows not previously available to view the week prior. I am a skeptic. Yes, I was thoroughly impressed with the shows seen thus far, but mind blowing? I am a New Yorker, after all. We’ll see, I thought to myself, as we were all led through an enormous wooden door- the kind across a moat to castle to keep invaders out, into an even more medieval type of darkness. Literal darkness, Edward Gorey darkness, so dark you can’t hear a thing.
The show is video animation by a Japanese artist named only Tabaimo, no last name, like Cher, or Madonna. I am not a fan of most video art. I feel it is annoying in the sense that viewing it in a gallery or museum requires you to stop moving, stop talking, sit still, be quiet, pay attention, wait around to catch the beginning of the loop and watch until the point you saw when you first walked up to it. However, Tabaimo, it would seem, is my kind of video artist.
The piece grabs your attention and forces you to appreciate it. With the thickest, most soundproof-seeming blackout curtains the theatre erases all signs of light and sound, except for those on display on the screen in front of you. This must be what purgatory is like, or what being trapped in an elevator, alone, during a power outage, after taking large amounts of hallucinogenic drugs is like.
The animation itself is beautiful rainbow colors, of drawn hands and feet, morphing in and out of one another, rolling on and off screen, but it is the room that feels like a pair of hands of darkness and deafness have grabbed your head, and is holding it still in the direction of the work and saying “Look at it! It’s beautiful isn’t it! Look! Don’t you see?!”. I did see it, yes, and it was amazing.
Catching my breath from the awe of the first video, I was overcome with vertigo stepping back through the curtains onto a… pool of water? No, a projection of bubbles beneath my feet, on what appears is a vertical ramp, like skateboarders use, with animated flowers, feet and hands materializing and disappearing on either side of me, undulating over each other. This show is like sensory deprivation and overload of the very best kind.
Set up in the floor to ceiling corner of the next room is a floor plan of an apartment, visible form every angle as it ebbs and flows in each direction. I am equally disoriented and astonished by every piece in this show. I can say with every fiber of my being that this show is mind blowing.