Espoo Museum of Modern Art

Tatsuo Miyajima: Sky of Time, 2019. © Ari Karttunen/EMMA

09.10.2019 - 08.03.2020

Tatsuo Miyajima: Sky of Time

Sky of Time is an exhibition featuring the world-famous Japanese artist Tatsuo Miyajima. The show marks the continuation of a new form of collaboration between EMMA and the Saastamoinen Foundation. Every year, a new work will be commissioned for the Foundation’s collections from a topically relevant contemporary artist. The work has been custom-designed for EMMA’s exhibition space, accompanied by a curated exhibition highlighting the artist’s recent work.

Tatsuo Miyajima (b. 1957) is known for his experiential, philosophical works reflecting on time and eternity. His signature use of ever-changing digital LED counters symbolizes the ceaseless flow of time and our place in the vast universe.

Sky of Time
is the title of both the exhibition and the new commissioned piece, which is a meditative installation consisting of hundreds of LED counters fixed to the ceiling of a darkened space. The glowing green numbers keep changing at a unique pace between nine and one. Instead of hitting zero, the gadget darkens momentarily before proceeding the process. The green light is a reference to the Aurora Borealis, which the artist saw twice while visiting Rovaniemi for the Snow Show exhibition in 2004.  

Miyajima’s minimalistic installation expresses three Buddhist concepts that underpin his art and personal philosophy: “keep changing”, “connect with everything” and “continue forever”. The concept of random chance also holds special significance for the artist.  The rhythm and speed of each gadget is set using a random system. Once the countdown begins, their rhythm cannot be altered by human invention. The artist sees this random system as being the closest to how nature works. 

Miyajima began using LED lights at the start of his career back in the 1980s. In a career now spanning four decades, he has held exhibitions in numerous major museums including SFMOMA in San Francisco (1997), the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in Rome (2004), the Art Museum in Beijing (2011), the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art (2016) and Shanghai’s Minsheng Art Museum (2019). He has also exhibited at major international showings including the Venice Biennale (1988, 1999). 

Sky of Time features the new commissioned piece alongside two other works: Counter Falls (2018) and Counter Steps, a new installation displayed on the staircase leading up to the gallery. Miyajima’s earlier work Changing Time with Changing Self, No.5 (2001), is on display as part of the Touch exhibition featuring picks from Saastamoinen Foundation Art Collection. 

Sky of Time was curated by EMMA’s Chief Curator Arja Miller and Päivi Karttunen, Chair of the Board of the Saastamoinen Foundation Arts Committee.  

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