The German-Japanese artist Suchan Kinoshita (b. Tokyo, 1960) makes us experience the seemingly familiar anew. With her installations and performances, almost all distinctly interdisciplinary in nature, she confronts us with something recognisable or everyday in order to transform our experience of it into an intense and alienating process.
The encounters/confrontations she brings about via her work might seem casual but they are in fact imperative, because it is only through our active observation or participation that they are transformed into a meaningful whole from a certain chaos. This by no means implies that Kinoshita is striving after coherence or logic, but quite the converse: her oeuvre sings the praises of the beauty of confusion and misapprehension, which may or may not lead to an alternative intrinsic order. ‘Audience displacements’ is how the artist terms these shifts. Kinoshita’s work is, however, neither moralistic nor politically oriented. She is neither didactic nor agitative, but constructs avenues for experiencing themes such as time and transience in a new and oftentimes abstracted form and context. In the design or structure of her installations one finds clear traces of her fascination with architecture and film, her stage experience at the Theater am Marienplatz in Krefeld, and her musical studies with the contemporary composer Maurizio Kagel. In effect her work proffers novel experiential models that challenge the generally accepted relationship between the work of art and the public while also unremittingly extending the bounds of classic exhibition principles. Kinoshita’s Loudspeaker installation provides an intriguing example of this.
Loudspeaker is composed of an asymmetrical timber structure with the dimensions of a private sauna, in which one can hear a woman’s voice that is barely intelligible uttering a stream of words that is impossible to disentangle. You can discern different languages and there seems to be a jumble of stories, but occasionally a few words and their primary meaning emerge from the continuous stream of sounds and for an instant we can capture a potential storyline, even if for no longer than the time it takes for the word to be uttered. The succession of sounds usually drown out one another. The shed is dark and devoid of any clearly evident referential framework. Moreover, Loudspeaker does not stand in a normal museum space but fills a corridor in the new building en passant. The only light source is a small opening in a wall, which casts a beam onto the wooden floor and offers a glimpse of the gaping depth of the Van Abbemuseum’s tower, thus exaggerating the sense of disorientation.
Loudspeaker, which was presented as an installation for Plug In #14, was originally staged as a series of performance that involved various speakers whispering into the artist’s ears. The artist functions as a loudspeaker, attempting to reproduce the stories unabridged. This proves to be impossible, resulting in a Babylonian confusion of tongues that has caused utter consternation among many an audience concerning the true purpose of the performance. If one abandons the yearning for a linear narrative, however, the verbal deluge is transformed into a fascinating sound sculpture that transports the listener to … well, the artist leaves that up to you. Anyone who still wants to discover the actual origin of the sounds can use the telescope suspended in the space to view several explanatory images that accompany this semi-verbal stream of sounds, which has now taken on a life wholly its own.