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Sorry, Today, You Lost to Yesterday

Listening to Shiina Ringo’s Shouso Strip at the moment, which isn’t even my favorite Shiina Ringo album, and it so clearly destroys anything that has come out of the Japanese pop music scene in the last six years. This album should sound dated and terrible — that’s how pop culture works — but the total stagnation of J-Pop makes it sound like some kind of futuristic gift sent back in time from an altrusitic advanced civilization. “Gibusu” is like ideal utopian socialist fantasy of a J-Rock ballad.

Buffalo Daughter’s “LI303VE” also stands up. (I am writing about both artists for a magazine.)

Many deride necrophilic obsession with the past, but what do you do when the past so clearly and objectively kicks the present’s teeth in on a daily basis? The collapse of this pop culture thing has made us all Classics majors and historians.

W. David MARX
October 30, 2008

Miami Art Basel

I have a video installation in Scion’s show at Art Basel Miami this year. If you are in the Sunshine State and looking for free booze and fine fine art, this is your place in early December. (Today’s Usugrow painting is tomorrow’s Dali!) Friday, 12/05 at the Raleigh Hotel Penthouse from 7PM-10PM. I’ll be there- hit me up!

October 30, 2008

Engrich #2

Spotted in Hamamatsucho station:


For more on “Engrich,” look here.

Technically, 「衝突」 can be “clash” but I am not sure this is such a great translation — functionally speaking. In terms of coolness? Check-plus-plus.

W. David MARX
October 27, 2008

Street Fashion Magazine Death

I was just looking over my senior thesis about A Bathing Ape, and in one part, I mention that Nigo was on the cover of three street fashion magazines — Boon, Asayan, and Thrill — in August 2000. During the summer of 2000 when I did the core of my research, all the fashion elites I interviewed said “Ape is dead,” but I felt that these magazine covers questioned the validity of that statement.

Anyway, I was shocked to realize that none of these titles still exist. Boon changed to B. earlier this year and then ceased publication for good. Asayan was the street fashion magazine of the Ura-Harajuku movement, so I can see why it drifted into obscurity sometime in the early 21st century. I don’t even remember what Thrill was about.

Not that this observation really means anything, but I tend to forget how different the media landscape was just eight years ago. I often note that A Bathing Ape almost never appears in mainstream fashion menswear magazines, but maybe that’s because all the pro-Ura-Hara ones went under.

W. David MARX
October 22, 2008

Farce Alert: Art Space Tokyo in Metropolis

Wow. Chin Music Press’ excellent book Art Space Tokyo received an absurd and highly questionable review in the latest issue of Metropolis. Riddled with racial/cultural stereotypes of Japanese and dismissive of the opinion of foreigners involving themselves in Tokyo’s fine art world, it upholds Metropolis’ reputation for stellar journalism. Read it here.

AST editor Ashley Rawlings retorts at length in this infinitely more worthwhile blog post on the excellent AST website. Ashley politely pulls his punches aimed at reviewer C.B. Liddell while eloquently pointing out the numerous stereotypes and gross assumptions made in Liddell’s article.

I’m biased, as I wrote one of the dismissed essays in the damn book, but Liddell’s review strikes me as the work of a college freshman’s stab at homework for Journalism 101. Some striking concepts within:

Japanese =Inherently artistic

Apparently, foreigners are inherently less artistic, and if one is to paraphrase some of Liddell’s earlier work, less cute as well.

The whole review is trite and suffers from a myopic view of culture at large, not to mention a very short-sighted perspective on contemporary art in Japan.

Oh, and there are grammatical errors throughout.

October 21, 2008

Meeting Modernity in Portland

A bit preemptive, but what the hell… Néojaponisme’s exhibition Meeting Modernity will be in Portland from January 8 through February 1st in the new year. The opening will be on January 8 from 6–9PM. I’ll be in attendance (as will Ma and Pa Lynam!), so come on down.

October 19, 2008

UT does ZTT

Give it to Uniqlo for being one of the few Japanese retailers seeing growth and one of the few big companies continuing to trickle-down money to innovative foreign artists.


Uniqlo’s UT T-shirt line has revived graphics from the iconic ’80s label Zang Tumb Tuum (ZTT) Records. Now you can finally get a Frankie Goes to Hollywood shirt that doesn’t say RELAX.

A quote from Sunahara Yoshinori at the bottom!

W. David MARX
October 15, 2008

Animal Hero Rescue!


Mumbleboy, that suave and dashing genius, has a new art show up in Portland at Black Wagon, the best kid’s store in town!

October 12, 2008

IDEA #331


I have a lengthy essay about Gary Hustwit’s documentary “Helvetica” in the latest issue of Idea, on newsstands now.

October 11, 2008

Process Train Car show

I have a visual shoutout to the land of milk and honey, Machida-shi, in this new show in Brooklyn.

October 10, 2008

Lullatone on PingMag

I just had an interview with Nagoya cutesters Lullatone go live on PingMag.

October 8, 2008

42 Views of Tokyo


Marxo and I have work in the upcoming WKTokyoLab show in Los Angeles at Gallery Nucleus. The exhibition is centered around the artwork and writing created for WKTokyoLab’s new book + DVD set, Tokyo.Ten. The exhibition is on November 1st at 7pm.

It’s rare that WKTokyoLab stuff makes it to LA, so for folks curious about some of the more innovative image-making coming out of Tokyo these days, this is a great sampler.

October 8, 2008

Meeting Modernity postcard set

Meeting Modernity postcard set

We had a number of really nice offset postcard sets made for the inaugural Meeting Modernity exhibition. There are 8 thick, full color cards in each set, wrapped in handmade, envelopes made by the tireless folks at Los Angeles’ Young Art gallery. Card sets sell for ¥2200/$22 postpaid. Do us and the gallery a favor and pick up a set.

October 7, 2008


Mild-mannered Sgt Tanuki has just published a slew of great posts reviewing the last five years’ worth of Akutagawa Prize winners. He also goes ahead and reviews whatever filler got included with each winner to round out a hardback book for publication. That’s classy.

October 6, 2008

Links for This Fine October Day

Tokyo: A local’s view

You may have heard of this guy Jean Snow. He is on the Néojaponisme masthead.

Group Sounds (Japanese 1960s music) movie trailer

Japanese pop movies all look (and often are) uniformly bad, but this one seems like fun. I like Group Sounds a bit although I think people overestimate its impact on Japanese pop culture of the era. These guys weren’t really “the Beatles of Japan,” since most Japanese also listened to the Beatles and knew that the Tigers or Spiders couldn’t really hold a candle. The old saying went, in a family, the older brother listened to the Beatles, the older sister listened to the Monkees, and the little sister listed to Group Sounds. But yeah, the costumes and typography were great. And this movie actually dug up Tsutsumi Kyohei to work on the music.

DJ Ozma and Tunnels dress up as black women

Sometimes the jokes are so lame that you don’t even get around to worrying about the identity politics.

W. David MARX
October 2, 2008