Das Platforms / Contemporary Art

Midori Mitamura: Art and Breakfast

by Sarinah Masukor

18 May 2011

Midori Mitamura: Art and Breakfast Monash University Museum of Art, 5 May – 23 July 2011. The first time I visit Midori Mitamura’sArt and Breakfast (2011) no one is there. Soft music is playing. Plastic filing trays, cups, apples and empty tape rolls are piled up into an unsteady tower. A meat grinder and a film reel support a string of wool stretched between them, like a strange wool pulling machine. A birdcage is filled with heavy books. The small gallery feels overcrowded with objects. A string of tiny paper birds is hung across the top of the room, low enough for a tall person to get caught on. That day the room was like a hoarder’s playroom and I wanted to touch, to move things around and play with the broken toys.

Art and Breakfast is not an interactive work, but it is a work in progress. Everchanging, the installation is like a three-dimensional journal. Constructed from objects found near the gallery, the work is different in each place it is shown. Every day, Mitamura spends time rearranging and refining the work. When I return for breakfast a few days later the room is still playful, but a sense of order has been established. The filing trays have been built into a delicately balanced sculpture displaying small plastic toys. A line of wool leads the viewer around the room, linking the makeshift sculptures together. Curator Rosemary Forde notes that for Mitamura, “the experience of life as a series of temporal and inevitably disappearing ‘present’ moments is a point of ongoing fascination.”[1] What is one thing today will be another thing tomorrow.

There is a danger that installations formed from everyday objects can become chaotic and meaningless, but Mitamura arranges the objects so that their banal ugliness is transformed into a fleeting beauty. Motifs emerge. Around the room, toys are reflected in mirrors. Other mirrors, broken and cracked, sit on walls and in corners. A bird is cut out of a record cover, and then joined by a string to a map with a mirroring bird. Brief sentences scrawled on pieces of tape are stuck around the room. A mini bowling set with toys standing in for missing pins is marked with the reminder, “Don’t tell everyone straight away, tell one person. The people behind will find out.” On the wall beside a paper girl: “the most helpless moment for single women is when a lid won’t come off a jar,” and beside that is a lid with cloth draped over it like hair. It is a funny, wistful train of thought. In Mitamura’s work words lead to objects and objects back to words, the phrases and structures forming a kind of image-thought.

Art and Breakfast is a joyful and intimate installation. By inviting gallery visitors to share breakfast with her and each other, Mitamura transforms the formal gallery space into a warm domestic one. The daily ritual of eating breakfast becomes part of the work of art. Art is let into the flow of daily life to reveal the beautiful ordinary of the everyday.

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[1] Rosemary Forde, Midori Mitamura: Art and Breakfast, Melbourne, Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne, 2001.