Hiroshi Sugimoto: Lost Human Genetic Archive
“Today, the world died. Or maybe yesterday.” is a preface for each of thirty three apocalyptic scenarios at Lost Human Genetic Archive, a major solo exhibition of Hiroshi Sugimoto based on Aujourd'hui, le monde est mort [Lost Human Genetic Archive], held at Palais de Tokyo in 2014, featuring exhibited for the first time Abandoned Theater and a new installation Sea of Buddha. The exhibition—which reopens newly renovated the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, now Top Museum—showcases the artist's extensive private collection and his encyclopedic knowledge of history by means of the-end-of-the-world testimonials told by an eclectic cast of imaginary characters, ranging from the human genome code-breaker to Love Doll Angé.
For Sugimoto, objects, a product characteristic of our species, is the only proof that the world around him really exists, a sentiment which could be easily attributed to Marcel Duchamp, the artist he openly admires and whom he quotes throughout the exhibition. But whereas Duchamp was fond of playing word games, laying groundwork for every artist ever since, he was too aware of limitations imposed by the language and exploited it to warp what's perceived to be real, instead of defining it through description. Surprisingly, Sugimoto chose to enliven each story with narratives, for better or worse exposing his human nature, normally held in check by intellectual self-restrain he employs to an utmost, godlike effect. More paradoxically, by doing so he partially stripped the objects he chose to convey the stories of self-evident powers, he says he believes they posses over words.
Depending on your point of view, this contradictory decision makes this otherwise well-attuned exhibition more, or less compelling, but whether you choose to go along, come up with your own storylines, or do without them altogether, Lost Human Genetic Archive is without a question Sugimoto's most intimate show to date. Through November 13th.