Horikawa Michio “Stones at Tokyo Biennale ’70 = (13 – 4) + 9 + 9 + 9”

堀川紀夫 Horikawa Michio
Stones at Tokyo Biennale ’70 = (13 – 4) + 9 + 9 + 9

Saturday, March 18 – Friday, April 28, 2023
Tuesday-Saturday 12:00-19:00 (Closed on Mon, Sun, Public holidays)

Artist Talk with Tomii Reiko (art historian) Saturday March 18, 17:00-18:00 (in Japanese-language only)
Reception Saturday March 18, 18:00-19:00

Press Release

Download Press release (English)
Download Press release (日本語)

MISA SHIN GALLERY is pleased to present Horikawa Michio’s solo exhibition Stones at Tokyo Biennale ’70 = (13 – 4) + 9 + 9 + 9 from Saturday March 18 to Friday April 28, 2023.

Horikawa’s Mail Art by Sending Stones series began with The Shinano River Plan: 11, which was inspired by Apollo 11’s mission to land on the moon and collect samples of moon rock in July 1969. He collected earth rock samples in the form of eleven stones that he found along the banks of the Shinano River, then packaged the stones using wire and mailed them to eleven art world figures.

The following year, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum presented the 10th International Art Exhibition of Japan (Tokyo Biennale), with Nakahara Yusuke as commissioner and “between man and matter” as its theme. An invited list of international and domestic artists included Horikawa, Carl Andre, Christo, Richard Serra, Takamatsu Jiro, and Matsuzawa Yutaka. After Tokyo, the exhibition toured to the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art; Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, and the Fukuoka Prefectural Culture Center.

For the Tokyo Biennale, Horikawa produced a project in honor of Apollo 13, which was launched in April 1970. Titling it The Nakanomata River Plan: 13, he collected thirteen stones from the side of the Nakanomata River, mailing one of them to the Biennale office each day for 13 days. The stones were exhibited at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, but four of them unexpectedly disappeared from the venue during the exhibition period. Horikawa responded to this “happening” by collecting, mailing, and exhibiting four fewer stones (nine instead of thirteen) to each of the three subsequent venues. After Tokyo and Kyoto exhibitions, Horikawa returned them to the rivers, turning the exhibits back into natural stones.

Horikawa produced a booklet with an envelope as its cover, which would later be called an artist book that was activated as mail art. He pasted photographs of each of the stones exhibited at the Tokyo venue onto custom-made silkscreened data card, along with data such as their weights, collection date/time and location, along with mailing dates and the post office receipts. He then made five copies of each of the pages using state-of-the-art technology (a Xerox photocopier). He displayed one set at the museum, using two sets to create an artist book and send each one to art critic Nakahara Yusuke (the Biennale commissioner) and Minemura Toshiaki (Mainichi Shimbun’s representative for the Biennale Office).

The exhibition at MISA SHIN GALLERY centers on the individual pages of the actual copy of the data cards exhibited at Tokyo Biennale ’70, introducing the exhibition via a timeline that covers the works that were mailed to and displayed at the Tokyo, Kyoto, Aichi, and Fukuoka venues. In addition, one of the actual stones from the Tokyo venue which Horikawa has kept will be on view for the first time since Tokyo Biennale. Furthermore, it has been confirmed by the artist-researcher Tyler Coburn that the stone that he mailed to US President Richard Nixon as a Christmas gift as a gesture of opposition to the Vietnam war in 1969 is in the collection of the Richard Nixon Library & Museum. The exhibition presents photographs and documentary works of its stone including a thank-you note from American Ambassador in Tokyo and a duplicated copy of a data card incorporating a receipt from the post office. Also, a duplicated copy of a data card with a photograph of a stone and a slideshow of photographs that documented act of mail art for the stone which was sent to Japanese Prime Minister Eisaku Sato in 1970, and the work which was recreated first time in 53 years I am giving you a five-yen coin (1970/2023) will be on view.

Horikawa Michio’s Mail Art by Sending Stones is distinctive for incorporating several different levels. In addition to the stones themselves becoming art, the act of sending each stone and the process involved in doing so each became works in their own right, as did the data cards presenting photographs and records of the act of mailing the stones. This is Michio Horikawa’s second solo exhibition at MISA SHIN GALLERY.

On the first day of the exhibition, the gallery plans to host a talk to celebrate the release of a book Mail Art by Sending Stones: A Reader, published in October 2022 by Gendai Kikakushitsu, inviting Tomii Reiko, art historian and coauthor of the book. Also, a book signing will be held after the talk.

Mail Art by Sending Stones: A Reader, Horikawa Michio, Tomii Reiko, Gendai Kikakushitsu, 2022

堀川紀夫 Horikawa Michio
Born in Nakakubiki gun (now Joetsu City), Niigata Prefecture in 1946, Horikawa joined the contemporary art collective Group Ultra Niigata (GUN) in 1967 with Maeyama Tadashi, Ichihashi Tetsuo, and others. Major exhibitions include Century City at Tate Modern (London, 2001), Art, Anti-Art, Non-Art: Experimentations in the Public Sphere in Postwar Japan, 1950-1970 at Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles, 2007), Radicalism in the Wilderness: Japanese Artists in the Global 1960s at Japan Society (New York, 2019), and Between Collectivism and Individualism —Japanese Avant-Garde in the 1950s and the 1960s, Zachęta – National Gallery of Art, (Warsaw, 2021).

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