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A Conversation with Mika Tajima at Art Basel 2023: "You Be My Body for Me"

Renowned artist Mika Tajima from Pace Gallery captivated visitors at Art Basel in Basel 2023 with her thought-provoking installation titled "You Be My Body for Me." As a digitally networked rock garden with material objects, Tajima's artwork delves into the pervasive culture of self-representation and the dislocations experienced in our temporary and social media-driven lives. Through her innovative approach, she challenges viewers to reflect on their own existence and the complexities of navigating the age of social media and technology.

Mika Tajima

Gen de Art: What message do you hope the audience receives after experiencing your show?

Tajima: I aim to heighten awareness of the multiple lives we inhabit, present to and conceal from the external world. In today's world, the dominance of social media and technology has made self presentation and identification prevalent, and consequently protecting our inner selves has become increasingly challenging. I hope viewers will reflect upon this condition and contemplate their own relationship with self-presentation in the ever-present virtual realm.


Gen de Art: How special is it for you to participate in Art Basel this year?

Tajima: I am incredibly excited to showcase this large installation at Art Basel, particularly after the prolonged period of the pandemic. It is a significant moment to reassess the multitude of ways we have had to exist during the limitations of being in physical spaces and also global travel. Now that we are gradually returning to the frenetic norm of “business as usual”, it is crucial to recognize how we are also fragmented through technology and virtual spaces. This moment felt perfect for starting anew and exploring these themes.


Mika Tajima

You Be My Body For Me

2023

Courtesy of the artist, Pace Gallery

Photo/ Dawn Blackman


Gen de Art: What inspired you to use this specific combination of materials in your artwork?

Tajima: My exploration has revolved around metaphors of energy and quantum physics, leading me to discover rose quartz as a intriguing material during an exhibition at Dazaifu Tenmangu, one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan. I was drawn to rose quartz as it is a natural occurring resource mined from the earth with inherent technological capabilities. The material possesses piezoelectric properties, generating an electric charge when struck. Additionally, I incorporated bronze Jacuzzi jet nozzles, symbolizing invisible air pressure, which serves as a metaphor for the unseen pressures we sense. The punctured diagram of acupuncture pressure points on rose quartz brings together ancient materials, techniques, and the enigmatic symbols of human energy, life, and the urge to control the unknowable.


Gen de Art: Does sustainability play a role in your artistic practice, especially when it comes to technology?

Tajima: As an artist, I believe it is crucial to consider sustainability and its implications continuously. While I may not specifically focus on sustainability, I contemplate how our existence is shaped by the present circumstances of fleeting life and what remains after the passage of time. The materials and technology implemented in the various projects speak to both the acceleration toward progress and advancement while also speaking to impending obsolescence.

Gen de Art: Can you tell us about your upcoming projects?

Tajima: I am thrilled to share that I have an exhibition coming up in Tokyo at a private foundation called Yu-Un in October. Following that, I will have a solo show at Pace Gallery in New York in January 2024. This will be my first solo show in my home town New York City in 9 years. I am eagerly looking forward to these exhibitions and the opportunities they present for further artistic exploration and engagement.


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