MORI Mariko


MORI Mariko 森万里子 (1967- ) Tokyo. Avant-garde artist who combines pop art, self portraits, cartoonish or other-worldly costumes, religious themes, and digital image editing. A big name in the art world.

Education Graduated Bunka Fashion College (Tokyo) in 1988. Attended Byam Shaw School of Art, London 1988-89; Chelsea College of Art, London 1989-92; and Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York 1992-93.

Career Worked as a fashion model while in her teens. Niece of Minoru Mori, president of the Mori Building Company, one of the largest real estate development companies in Japan best known for the "Mori Buildings" in Tokyo.

Based in New York since the mid-1990s.

Her early works from 1994-5 were a visual commentary on women in contemporary society in Japan. She dressed herself as a "costume player" with garish costumes modeled after anime or video game characters. In "Subway," she's dressed in a silver, space suit while standing in a subway train. In "Tea Ceremony III," she's dressed as an office lady, except for a pair of silver, pointy ears, while passing out cups of tea to passersby next to an office building. It is an obvious mocking of the common practice of young (and old) women in the office who are obigated to serve tea to their male co-workers.

Her eye-catching "Birth of a Star" photograph in 1995 showed herself as a wannabe pop singer. This appeared on the cover of Artforum magazine which caught the attention of museum curators and collectors.

Later, her interest shifted to a search for her inner self. She now blends high-tech and traditional elements in her works. She has received high acclaim internationally and finally held a major solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo in early 2002.

Titled "Pure Land," the show featured Japanese religion as a major element or theme in her works such as "Dream Temple" (modeled after one of the buildings at Horyuji Temple in Nara), a 3-D video titled "Nirvana," and the show's title itself is obviously based on the Buddhist Jodo-shu (or Jodo Shinshu) Sect's Pure Land (Jodo) concept. In the videos, she's depicted as some kind of goddess or heavenly angel. She has no doubt attained a higher plateau in her art and career. (2002.07.22)

Exhibitions Review by Monty DiPietro of Mori's 2002 exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.