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Shinobu Akimoto - New Projects / Art Gallery of Windsor, Windsor, Canada / 2006

Since the mid 1990's, witty conceptual work of Shinobu Akimoto has questioned whether 'art'-making is simply part of the experience of living, or is somehow a distinct, even rarefied human activity. Akimoto is best known for installations rightly called 'projects', such as her IKEA Living Project Series (1999-2001), where she pragmatically replicated mass-produced furniture and lifestyle accessories by hand, or BACKYARD (2000-02), a video installation with looped footage of flora and fauna in her parents' backyard, " overlapping the mundane existence of both the subject matter and the maker of the video". One of her new installations, Better Living (2004-05) is composed primarily of photographs featuring a pet bird, cat and rabbit caught in the act of 'shopping' in a miniaturized plant nursery, ceramic store, and furniture shop. The small scale suits both the proportions of the animals and showcases Akimoto's hand-made facsimiles of impractically tiny ceramic ware, potted plants, or wooden furniture found in Japanese 'dollar' stores. For the Photo-Litho Project the artist used lithography to manually reproduce real advertisements from flyers and catalogues that list socks, Burberry tartan coats, and other popular, human-like 'accessories' for pets. Inherent in all of these ventures are their open-ended interpretability and mix of the ridiculous and serious in all our activities.

Cassandra Getty


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