Mika Ninagawa Exhibition Experience: Eternity in a Moment at Toranomon Hills
Explore the Colorful World of Mika Ninagawa: A Visual Feast at Toranomon Hills
Mika Ninagawa made her directorial debut with the film “Sakuran” released on February 24, 2007. In 2012, she won the Kaneto Shindo Award for her film “Helter Skelter.” In 2019, she released two films: “Diner” and “Ningen Shikkaku” In 2020, her Netflix original series “Followers” began streaming online. Besides films, Ninagawa continues to be active in a wide range of fields including photography and spatial installations, holding several large solo exhibitions worldwide. This exhibition at Tokyo’s Toranomon is of a scale, unlike her previous works.
This exhibition uses the entire space of about 1,500 square meters of TOKYO NODE, presenting an astonishing density. A series of 11 works immerse visitors in Ninagawa’s unique worldview in a contemplative manner.
When mentioning Mika Ninagawa, many think of her color-saturated works with strong contrasts, but this exhibition starts unexpectedly from a pitch-black corridor. Venturing further, one will encounter 11 pieces. The interplay of light and shadow, life, decay, melancholy, and awe merge to create an experience akin to watching a film, momentarily transporting visitors into an unreal space.
Afterglow of Lives
The first work upon entering is Afterglow of Lives, where dark corridors make the flowers and plants appear as if they are wilting. The contrast of light and dark mirrors the ups and downs of our lives.
Unchained in Chains
Next, visitors enter a space titled ‘Unchained in Chains,’ a work using transparent boxes and screens to display images, reminiscent of an aquarium. All displayed images are new works created specifically for this exhibition. The changing lights and images in the screens and the entire space depict Ninagawa’s fascination with goldfish as symbols of human desire, breeding life as an object, contrasting the imprisoned goldfish with those in open environments to symbolize different human lives.
Breathing of Lives
Breathing of Lives centers around the city, emphasizing the breaths felt within urban environments. This space, with film projected on a large screen, shows various aspects of the city and its multitude of lights, allowing viewers to feel the rhythm of the city’s breath.
Flashing before our eyes
The large-scale spatial video work ‘Flashing before our eyes’ is arguably the highlight of the exhibition. The corridor leading to this installation displays photos of city nightscapes and women’s lips. Daylight entering from the windows blends the outdoor scenery with the photos, while nighttime offers a different ambiance.
Walking through this passionate corridor, visitors then enter a vast, immersive space featuring large-scale video works under a dome up to 15 meters high. Here, one can sit or lie down to observe the ever-changing mosaic-like scenes, experiencing the stimulating interplay of colors and lights. It’s recommended to take your time to sit and slowly appreciate this visual spectacle.
Returning along the same path, the next piece is “Intersecting Future: The Scenery of Fluttering Butterflies.” Entering this space, visitors are surrounded by flowers, with beauty filling every part of their field of vision, above, below, and all around. This is the spot where most visitors take photos. From every angle, one can capture different perspectives and beauties.
I also took many close-up photos of this scene. Despite being in the same space, the arrangement of the flowers, combined with varying light and shadow, gives the appearance of a work from a parallel universe.
Fading into the Silence
‘Fading into the Silence’ combines artificial and fresh flowers. During the exhibition, the gradual wilting of the fresh flowers is documented in photos, highlighting the ‘life’ of flowers by juxtaposing them with the ever-lasting artificial ones.
By juxtaposing them with everlasting artificial flowers, this piece highlights the ‘life’ of fresh flowers, offering a moment of reflection. The space is adorned with numerous photographs on either side, allowing you to witness the gradual wilting of the flowers and experience the changing nature of life.
In addition to the ‘Intersecting Future’ area, the exhibition features several rooms with neon tube artworks extending from photo impressions. These pieces, capturing everyday moments paired with descriptive language, explore the interplay of time and memory. The butterfly room leaves a particularly strong impression, evoking a chic urban night atmosphere.
In shimmering light with you
‘In shimmering light with you’ is a video installation set in a white interior. Contrasting with the dense floral areas along the exhibition path, this space offers a refreshing ambiance, allowing visitors to rest.
‘Blooming Emotions’ features a pink-hued space with several cushions and a petal-shaped screen overhead projecting images. It invites visitors to lie down and enjoy scenes of flowers dispersing, gathering, insects moving about, and the arrival of spring, interweaving various emotions.
Seasons: Flight with Butterfly
‘Seasons: Flight with Butterfly’ is an installation where visitors walk between transparent large screens to view images of seasonal flowers. The silhouettes of viewers in front of the screens become part of the imagery.
This is a dreamlike scene, yet the imagery is almost unedited, with many of the flowers captured as they are in everyday life.
‘Embracing Lights’ is an immersive video experience themed around light, exploring the sensation of time within light and the memories it awakens. This installation offers not just a visual stimulus but also a reconnection with the essence of life.
An official POP-UP store is set up at the venue, selling limited-edition collaboration merchandise. There’s also a large display board in front of the store for photo opportunities.
The items in the POP-UP store range from designer clothes to everyday items, all commemorating this exhibition.
The restaurant inside TOKYO NODE also features a collaborative menu. Themed food is available next to the store.
This exhibition is a project challenged by Mika Ninagawa and her creative team EiM (エイム). The EiM team is led by data scientist and Keio University professor Hiroaki Miyata, with Ninagawa and set designer Enzo among the participants. Each project is composed of a diverse team. Photography is allowed in the venue, making it highly suitable for those who love photography and selfies.
Mika Ninagawa Exhibition: Eternity in a Moment (蜷川実花展 瞬きの中の永遠)
Location: TOKYO NODE GALLERY A/B/C (45F Toranomon Hills Station Tower, 2-6-2 Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tokyo)
Access: Direct access from Toranomon Hills Station on the Hibiya Line
Dates: December 5, 2023 (Tuesday) to February 25, 2024 (Sunday) ※Closed on specific holidays including year-end and New Year
Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday: 10:00 – 20:00 / Tuesday: 10:00 – 17:00 / Friday, Saturday and holidays: 10:00 – 21:00 ※Last entry 30 minutes before closing ※Holidays are 10:00 – 20:00
Duration: About 60 minutes
Official website: https://tokyonode.jp/
Weekdays – General: 2,500 JPY, Students (University/High School): 2,000 JPY, Children (Junior High/Elementary School): 800 JPY
Weekends and holidays – General: 2,800 JPY, Students (University/High School): 2,200 JPY, Children (Junior High/Elementary School): 1,000 JPY
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