Small Interview with Takashi Murakami understudy, Oyaizu Haruka

Featured Image is a self portrait by Takashi Murakami “Self-Portrait of the Distressed Artist”  2009 (photo: Achim Hepp)

Last week, when I visited The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, I noticed that there was a Murakami exhibition set to open this week. (Most people wont know Takashi Murakami by name, but will instantly recognize his Louis Vuitton collection.) I rushed to the top floor to see if I could get a glance of anything, and was promptly turned away by the tight security.

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村上隆の五百羅漢図展 |    Takashi Murakami: The 500 Arhats   |   2012

I decided not to give up and came back a little later and watched the crew debate the positioning of the pieces. What happened next was more than surprising. There he was, Takashi Murakami, standing right in the doorway just behind the roped off area. At first he didn’t notice me, but then he looked my way and gave a nod and quick smile. After that I was more than happy and ready to leave, but then a young woman came out of the roped off area carrying a paint brush and guard. I asked if I could interview her briefly and she obliged.

How did you come to work with the world-renowned Takashi Murakami-sama?

OYAIZU-SAN: I went to an arts school near Tokyo, and naturally Murakami-sama’s work caught my eye. Being in a big city made Murakami-sama much more accessible to me, so I did all that I could until I made my dream come true. The competition was tough. Many people want to work with Murakami-sama because they want to use his fame as a platform for their own creative endeavors.  Others work with him because they have a deep respect for him and his work.

Oh. You are an artist yourself, with your own style and interests. Are you saying that becoming famous isn’t your goal?

OYAIZU-SAN: Although I understand the feelings of those who chase fame, personally, that’s not why I do it.  I respect Murakami-sama’s work and I am proud to support him. Of course I would like my own talent as an artist to be recognized, but I am happy knowing that I can help Murakami-sama to share his creative visions.

What are your thoughts on Chicago?

OYAIZU-SAN: This was my first time visiting Chicago. I have been to New York many times for exhibitions before, but Chicago seems to have a completely different vibe to it. In New York there are a lot of immigrants, so you really get a feel of cosmopolitanism – not unlike Tokyo. However in chicago, when I got here, I felt like “this is America”. With that said, I’ve been working very hard to help Murakami-sama have a successful show, but I like the people here. They are very friendly.

Well, I don’t want to keep you any longer. Thank you for your time!…and if you have some time go out and enjoy the city!

OYAIZU-SAN: Thank you.

Oyaizu Haruka studied Spacial Production Design at Musashino Art University.
The interview was conducted in Japanese, and unfortunately not recorded (I didn’t think I would get the opportunity and was not prepared.) The preceeding english was translated by me from memory and some small notes I took of the conversation. I apologize if there are any inaccuracies.

Goals

Project Suspend aims to challenge artists to suspend their social filters, and then from a position of disorientation, to create. In other words, the project seeks and will try to encourage artists to create works in areas they are uninformed and unfamiliar with (ex. a straight person writing a poem about being gay, a person in a position of power depicting oppressed, a man singing about what it means to be woman).

We are not interested in works that are researched and informed by consulting others. Instead, we would like new imaginings of the subjects, focus of the works. Unlike many other spaces, this is a non-PC space, but we do ask that all works accompany an explanation. Deep self-reflection and analysis of one’s own work are required. If that condition doesn’t seem to be met, we will not accept a piece that could be considered to be offensive.