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Artist Mariko Mori Uncovers Parallel Universes With New Show

One of the biggest art stars in Japan brings her intergalactic sculptures to NYC’s Sean Kelly Gallery.

Photograph by David Sims. Courtesy of Sean Kelly Gallery.

Though you might not have heard her name, in her home country of Japan 48-year-old polyglot artist Mariko Mori is a superstar. Her pieces, spanning from video, to film, to sculpture, seem like missives from the future, juxtaposing a Sci-Fi sleekness with a deep humanity that in some works, like her Rebirth series, can border on animism. Since her formal introduction to the western art world two decades ago, Mori has shown at the Brooklyn Museum, the MCA Chicago, and the Serpentine Gallery (among many others), and is now currently exhibiting at the Sean Kelly Gallery in NYC. The exhibit, Cyclicscape, which we had the pleasure of walking through with Mori late last week, is a stunning paean to humanity’s intrinsic ties with nature, modern spirituality, and the ways the environment and technology dance through our lives.


Ekpyrotic String IV (Detail), 2014, fiberglass, 17 3/4 x 9 1/2 x 17 inches (45 x 24 x 43.5 cm), edition of 5 with 2 APs, © Mariko Mori, Courtesy: Sean Kelly, NY

The show, which offers ten new sculptures—Mobius forms that glide with seemingly no clear boundaries—are the product of Mori’s extensive research on string theories and “ekpyrotic” cosmology, broken down into abstract (and tangible) form. Created via precision fabrication, Ms. Mori’s 3-D printed models appear like lost space vessels, and have an almost indescribable luminescence. As the Observer notes “It can take up to a year to get the colors just right, working on a narrow sliding scale of color variations.” The show also features Mori’s photo-paintings: delicate seaside nature images created during a sabbatical to the island of Okinawa, later entombed in flat, rounded, Lucite frames, giving them the appearance of orbiting space discs. Mori, whose past work also includes roles as a sexy cyborg (Play With Me, 1994) and an alien lost on modern public transportation (Subway, 1994), believes that the universe is a miasma of untapped energy cycles, and possibly even parallel universes, just waiting to be unveiled.

Cyclic II, 2014, aluminum, 78 3/4 x 82 x 72 1/2 inches (200 x 208.1 x 184.2 cm), edition of 5 with 2 APs, © Mariko Mori, Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York

“I played with this idea that the universe could be born again,” explained the artist. “It's not a physicality of the universe-- it's just a concept of how life can go on and on. The invisible universe.”

This body of work is meant as a continuation of her exhibition two years back in Tokyo at the Louis Vuitton Espace. According to the artist “at the time I was very much into invisible energy, dark energy, and the universe—the unseen and unknown--and I tried to put this energy in a sculptural form.” The work, which morphs into smooth spheres, capturing the room’s color gradients, is an attempt to harness the infinite energy of universe, as well as “the life cycle of energy,” and an “entrance in the universe” only the enigmatic Mori can guide us through.

© Mariko Mori, Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York

MARIKO MORI, Higher Being II, 2013, Fujiflex, lucite frame, diameter: 48 inches (121.9 cm), depth: 3 inches (7.6 cm),edition of 6 with 2 APs, © Mariko Mori, Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York

© Mariko Mori, Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York

© Mariko Mori, Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York

Mariko Mori’s Cyclicscape is on view at Sean Kelly Gallery, 475 10th Avenue, from March 20 through May 2.

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