Typhoon Queens: The Multicultural Life of Clouds & Rain

Forum for Radical Imagination on Environmental Cultures

During COVID-19, The Urban Ecological Arts Forum at The Nature of Cities is bringing to life virtual exhibition spaces, highlighting current exhibitions on urban ecological themes that would otherwise be impossible to experience due to the closure of cultural facilities.

Welcome! This is the Gallery Space’s “front door” and we are asking for a voluntary donation to support this exhibit—a tip jar, or pay-what-you-will ticket.

75% of your donation will go directly to the artists and creators of this show, while 25% goes to the virtual gallery project’s development and “keeping the lights on”. Give whatever you can, but please see the show, even if you do not choose to donate.

Donate: Buy a ‘Virtual Ticket’

Typhoon Queens, Exhibition #1

Art Spot Korin Gallery
Kyoto, Japan

Exhibition Statement

Five artists from Japan, Korea, and the United States (known as the Typhoon Queens) bring us a theatrical installation, using the hydrological cycle to examine the ecological spaces we inhabit. This work is part exhibition, part experiential story. Here, the social, political, and ecological strain between people and the borders we create, enters into the world of clouds and rain. The exhibition on view here, at times takes the form of a lyrical play, where humans and nature rotate characters as moderator, observer, and instigator.

A complex orchestration of alternate views on deep-rooted human struggles, members of the Typhoon Queens find multiple ways to address a simple question: in our human dealings with each other and the world, can nature show us the way?

Typhoon Queens による展覧会。韓国の間に浮かぶ雲、溶け合う雨の波紋、北加賀屋で育ったハーブの庭などを用い、それぞれの社会や文化で解釈され生まれてくる世界の境界と循環を、再考します。

アメリカ出身のアーティスト、パトリック・ライドンと韓国出身の植物採集家スヒ・カンが運営する“THE BRANCH”主催の芸術祭「City as Nature Festival」(2019)のスピンオフ企画です。今回はロビン・ランサー、パトリック・ライドン、スヒ・カン、植松琢麿、川中政宏らが参加。

Explore The Exhibition

First Act: A Cloud Gallery

Explore the Typhoon Queens installation on the mezzanine level at Art Spot Korin

We begin on the mezzanine level of Art Spot Korin in Kyoto. Here in the ‘cloud gallery,’ an exhibition of film, photography, sculpture, and performance considers the boundaries and cycles of this water world, as it is born and interpreted in each society and culture.

American artists Patrick M. Lydon, Robin Lasser work with clouds and rain, respectively. Lydon’s cloud sculpture — made of pulped newspapers from Japan and Korea — reveal remnants of sentences and words from our daily cultural headlines, as they intermix and float together in the space.

Hanging back along the wall, Lydon juxtaposes the physical cloud with a single image of the clouds between Japan and Korea. Printed by exposure to sunlight through the archaic ‘cyanotype’ process, the image offers a small, calm moment, high above a storm between two countries.

the storm moves
crossing borders

In this cloud gallery, rain is also formed, first through Lasser’s slightly psychedelic, rippling mandala of water drops on film. The film is somehow both rigid and flowing, playing at the intersection of the architectural and the spiritual.

Lasser — who was in California during the opening on account of the government lockdown — talks to us via video conference, about the connection between rain, humanity, and imagination.

Accompanied by soundscapes and rhythmic spoken poetry about relationships between humans and nature, the work also remarks on relationships between family, as the poems were written more than three decades ago by Lasser’s own mother.

Toward the back of the room, the second rain reference is a literal raindrop apparatus.

Built by Japanese artist Masahiro Kawanaka, the contraption of laboratory equipment mimics a slow precipitation, as drips of water run along a line from a glass vessel, onto a string, and then disappear down into a hole in the floor.

To find out where it leads, together, we follow the way, the water flows.

Cloud Gallery / Individual Works

Explore the Exhibition – Second Act

Second Act: A Ground Gallery

Explore the Typhoon Queens installation on the ground floor gallery of Art Spot Korin

From the cloud level above us, water gently slides down, making its way through a hole in the ceiling. The water passes through a layer of low clouds, depicted by Kawanaka’s cloud castings. Finally, the raindrops encounter an androgynous figure, a sculptural form by Japanese artist Takuma Uematsu. The stark nude figure wears what appears to be a rain-pattern umbrella skirt (the work of Lasser). Here, we see that the water dripping is maneuvered to land directly on the head of Uematsu’s figure, where it appears at times like sweat, and at other times like teardrops.

As the precipitation continues its gravitational path, it finds four potted herb plants, positioned at the four corners of the skirt. A mandala made of brightly colored leaves radiates from each of the four points.

Is this all just an elaborate herb garden watering system?

The four potted plants are in fact healing herbs (mugwort, geranium, rosemary, and mint) used variously for healing teas, tinctures, incense, and other ends. They come from multiple continents and cultures, and are blended into a healing herb tea, produced specifically for this exhibition by Korean herbalist, Suhee Kang.

As the rain ends it course in the exhibition, together we enjoy the softly enlivening scent and taste of herbs, gifts which transcend border and culture.

Together we ask, can nature show us the way?

As the cycle begins again, together, we follow the way, the water flows.

Ground Gallery / Individual Works

Exhibition Dates

Art Spot Korin, Kyoto, Japan (closed to the public due to COVID-19)
2020 April 22 — May 3

The Nature of Cities, Urban Ecological Art Forum (virtual presentation)
2020 April 24 — ongoing

About the Typhoon Queens

The Typhoon Queens are an ecological artist collective formed in 2019 during a typhoon, while exhibiting together at the City as Nature Festival, an international environmental arts festival in Kitakagaya (Osaka, Japan). Their work is part exhibition, part experiential story. Combining physical works, stories, sound, moving image, and performance, they form spaces where social, political, and ecological icons give way to nature’s own hints, habits, sign posts, and world with potential for re-imagining everything. As of April 2020, members come from Japan, Korea, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. See more at www.cityasnature.org/queens

Participating Artists

Robin Lasser
b. 1956, Buffalo, United States; lives in Oakland

Takuma Uematsu
b. 1977 Kanazawa, Japan; lives in Minoh

Masahiro Kawanaka
b. 1979, Osaka, Japan

Patrick M. Lydon
b. 1981, San Jose, United States; lives in Osaka and Seoul

Suhee Kang
b. 1983, Seoul, South Korea; lives in Seoul and Osaka

special guests:
BomNunByeol (Korea)
Dahoom (Saudi Arabia)
Phyllis Lasser (United States)

Exhibition Partners

Produced by:
Typoon Queens, with support from City as Nature, and the LOCALSHIP project.

Media Partner:
Urban Ecological Arts Forum at The Nature of Cities.

Further Support:
This exhibition is a satellite event of Kyotographie KG+ 2020. Parts of the exhibition will be exhibited in the United States, as part of The State We’re In: Water at the Oklahoma State Museum of Art.

Live Stream

The opening event was broadcast live from Kyoto on April 25, 2020 (with no in-gallery audience, due to COVID-19). Below is an archive of the talk and performance.

Part 1 – Artist Tour (archive clip)

You can also watch the entire live stream with comments (talk starts at 50:00).

Part 2 – Performance (archive clip)

You can also watch the entire live stream with comments (performance starts at 3:00).

Support The Artists During Covid-19

During COVID-19, we are bringing to life virtual exhibition spaces for exhibitions that have been canceled due to the closure of cultural facilities. Donations will go: 75% to the artists and curators of this exhibition, and 25% to support the continued existence of this gallery space.

Donate: Buy a ‘Virtual Ticket’

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