masato takasaka

post-structural jam (shut up! we know you can play...)
Metro Arts, Brisbane
10 - 27 March 2010

This exhibition is the second installment of Masato Takasaka’s Post-structural Jam which debuted at Y3K gallery in Melbourne. The idea of reiteration is appropriate here as Takasaka’s work evokes the possible effects of repetition at every juncture. Unlike many of his previous works, though, this one is quite easy to describe: fourteen A0 prints from scanned pages of Guitarist magazine pinned neatly to the gallery wall. The pages contain ads for guitars, amps and other sound equipment alongside interviews with well known guitarists and tips on technique. Significantly these pages are all torn from the middle of articles in a number of issues published in the early ’90s; hence the identities of the interviewees and interviewers are indistinct, only recognisable through anecdotes involving other musicians.

Many of the essays I have looked at on Takasaka’s work make a direct address to the artist. I have come to attribute this to his casting (in both senses of the word) of himself in the work, in the same way that these musicians are cast by their encounters with other musicians and perform identities loosely based on their own for their audiences. In this way the work is a self-portrait, a nostalgic, performative memento to failed teenage ambitions. Takasaka’s ambition is not particularly unique though, rock stardom is a pretty run-of-the-mill vocational desire… so the work is also a reflexive remark on popular notions of the artist—the artist as bohemian genius sky-rocketing to popular acclaim.1But we are unsure of Takasaka’s complicity in this performance, so it can be read as both parodic gesture and indulgent reminiscence.

In pursuit of this reflexive study we can also discuss the work as a kind of ready-made. The widely accepted logic of the ready-made is one of recontextualisation, a spatial recontextualisation but also, and more pertinently for this work, a temporal mediation of the object, disrupting the possibility of its immediacy. Takasaka riffs on this too: these magazines were published in the early ’90s and are mostly interviews with artists who were at the height of their careers in the ’70s and ’80s. By way of this double mediation Takasaka alludes to both the nostalgia for glam rock and the historicization of this nostalgia. This exhibition, and Takasaka’s practice at large, proposes that this mediation is also theoretically exponential and clearly applicable to the processes of 20th century art and art history.

The over-productive scrutiny of the history of art produces a method of observation that is necessarily anarchic. Takasaka adopts this anarchy as the organising feature of his work, if such a thing is possible. Post-structural Jam simultaneously takes up the legacies of appropriation, conceptual art, pop art and the ready-made just as Takasaka’s sculptural practice takes up geometric abstraction, minimalism, text, etcetera. His work addresses the field of art as a referential matrix, one that inevitably reflects the figure of the artist in various positions.

In a discussion of Martin Kippenberger, George Baker discusses the idea of positioning and suggests that he (Kippenberger) has occupied ‘all positions at one time or another … which allowed him to invert them, to hybridize them, or to make them confront their repressed conditions’.2 The self in his work becomes ‘a failed catalogue of its immediate surrounds, a function of the unceasing mobility of potential perspectives and views’.3 Post-structural Jam efficiently induces a similar (albeit less sweeping) kind of mobility through a simultaneous embodiment and appropriation of the desire for success. 

notes: 

1. Both as charismatic male figure but also as skilled technician (the text includes tips on guitar technique and discussions of refined instrument modifications). This is especially significant because the work itself is almost totally free of two widely held beliefs about the artist: technical prowess and specialised knowledge.

2. George Baker, ‘Out of Position’, Artforum 47:6 February, 2009, p.144.

3. Baker, ibid, p.148.