Thursday, November 16, 2006

Masako Inaoka at Blankspace (Oakland)

Alert: This exhibit is scheduled to close on 11/19/06 (Sunday).

Misako Inaoka is fascinated by real-world mash-ups such as cell phone towers shaped like trees. (Examples of these can be found on the Larson Utility website.) In her solo exhibit at Blankspace in Oakland, this San Francisco artist has created her own mash-ups, blending the real with the artificial, the animate with the inanimate, and plant life with animal life.

Using toy birds as armatures, she fashions surreal birds. (See the examples at the top and below.) Using a variety of other materials, she develops little ecosystems teeming with odd creatures. Some of the creatures are elegant, some impish. A few exhibit motion and sound. Most are creepy—in a droll way.

The birds sit among branches that are part real, part plaster. The branches can look like tossed milk (see photo below).

Inaoka has installed ladders (photo below) that lead to infestations near the ceiling. In the back wall, she has placed peepholes to give tiny views of additional creatures.

The details are entertaining, but in some ways the exhibit’s most impressive quality is Inaoka’s superb sense of placement. This is hard to experience in photos, as it is a matter of asymmetrical but precise balances throughout a complex installation. Viewing this show, it is not hard to imagine that this artist could go into any space, even a storeroom, and rearrange objects in a way that unifies the space while opening it up.

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