’It’s the wall world’: Japanese collective Chim↑Pom’s disaster-inspired work
Japan-based artist collective Chim↑Pom are renowned for their provocative performances and installations that come loaded with a razor sharp social message; early works included flying a small plane over Hiroshima to draw the word ’Pika’ (onomatopoetic for atomic explosion) in smoke.
Their newest work, It’s the wall world, is directly inspired by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and aims, via a series of identical jigsaw-shaped pieces extracted from various locations, to stimulate cross-cultural dialogue about what they call ‘separate realities’.
The project was initiated at the Asian Art Biennale in Bangladesh, where the artists carved out a piece from the wall of a garment factory. Other pieces have since been collected from a vintage boutique in London, an art space for children in Hiroshima, and an abattoir in Dresden. ‘The pieces can also be taken to mean the word "peace", explains Chim↑Pom co-founder Masataka Okada.
Their inaugural exhibition in Hong Kong is the first work commissioned by The Mills Gallery, a newly established heritage conservation project, and comprises three jigsaw pieces extracted from a gritty 1950s textile factory building in Tsuen Wan. Every piece is replaced in situ by a simple white shape taken from an art gallery wall.
The collection will be exhibited as a gigantic jigsaw mural at The Saatchi Gallery in London as part of Chim↑Pom’s solo show this September. The group is also documenting the collection of the modular art pieces in a video.
‘It is about taking pieces from the "real world" and reassembling them in a new "unreal" context of a gallery that we hope will create a new cultural topography,’ explains Okada.