Artists Space

Ei Arakawa: Social Muscle Rehab

September 22 - November 27, 2021

For his first American solo institutional exhibition, Arakawa locates two specific nodes of exploration. The first is the erection of ad-hoc outdoor dining corrals throughout New York City as a means of maintaining sociability through the pandemic, which Arakawa and his collaborator Gela Patashuri interlace with a circulatory system of ocean water transported from his hometown of Fukushima, Japan. The second is the mediated world of professional tennis as particularly evident in the complex public image of its most visible star Naomi Osaka.

A sharp image of two halves of a pvc pipe placed in front of an out of focus background. Water flows across the pipes; behind the pipes is a steel column.
Ei Arakawa with Gela Patashuri, NYC Corrals & Iwaki Ocean’s Temporal Visit, detail, 2021, Dimensions variable. [A sharp image of two halves of a pvc pipe placed in front of an out of focus background. Water flows across the pipes; behind the pipes is a steel column.]

Japanese-born American artist Ei Arakawa’s exhibitions and performances are often created through fervent collaborations with artists (and at times their artworks), art historians, and with audience members themselves. His activities undertake the lo-fi mimicry, duplication, and embodiment of cultural forms—be they architectural structures, art historical legacies, or organizational systems—to reanimate their potentialities anew. Since the early 2000s, Arakawa has been at the forefront of renewing the visibility and advancement of performance art internationally, and has mined both its vintage forms (such as Japanese Gutai, New York’s Fluxus, Happenings, and Judson Dance Theater, and Viennese Actionism) as well as numerous contemporary manifestations of movement, entertainment, and togetherness. His work, initially appearing spontaneous or improvised, is underpinned by a deep commitment to collaboration as well as addressing the specific contexts of the people for which it is created.

On the evening of Sunday October 10th, the artist will celebrate the publication of his first monograph, Performance People (co-published with Kunstverein Düsseldorf), with a book release/water release and karaoke event as a form of social rehabilitation. On Saturday October 16th, Arakawa will stage a new afternoon performance exploring the realm of Naomi Osaka in Cortlandt Alley.

Ei Arakawa’s selected performances and exhibitions include Tate Modern, London (2021); Honolulu Biennial (2019); Liverpool Biennial (2018); Sculpture Project Münster (2017); Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf (2018); Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2017); The 9th Berlin Biennale (2016); Museum Brandhorst, Munich (2015); Gwangju Biennial (2014); Whitney Biennial, New York (2014); Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (2013); Pavilion of Georgia at the 55th International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia (2013); 30th São Paulo Biennial (2012); and The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012).

Lead Support for Social Muscle Rehab is provided by Eleanor Cayre.

Exhibition support is provided by James Cahn & Jeremiah Collatz, Lonti Ebers, Jacob King, and Japan Foundation, New York.

Additional program support for Artists Space is provided by The Friends of Artists Space, Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation, The Cowles Charitable Trust, The Cy Twombly Foundation, The David Teiger Foundation, The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, The New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, Imperfect Family Foundation, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation, The Willem de Kooning Foundation, The Danielson Foundation, The Fox Aarons Foundation, Herman Goldman Foundation, The Destina Foundation, The Luce Foundation, May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, The Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, VIA Art Fund, Arison Arts Foundation, The Chicago Community Fund, The David Rockefeller Fund, The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation, The Jill and Peter Kraus Foundation, The Richard Pousette-Dart Foundation.