From Friday 19 February to Sunday 3 October 2021, Nouveau Musée National de Monaco - Villa Paloma
Shimabuku was born in Kobe in 1969. He studied at Osaka College of Art, and later at the San Francisco Art Institute, before moving to Berlin where he spent twelve years. Since 2006, he has been based in Naha, on the Japanese island of Okinawa, from where his family originates.
From his first creations, fashioned in the Kobe region, whose topography he compares to that of the Riviera, to the most recent installations produced in Monaco, Shimabuku's work is driven by his close observation of his environment. His method is to appropriate aspects of the popular culture or landscapes he encounters on his travels, and to weave them into experimental poetic actions with humour, performance, music, or cuisine.
When, in Fukuoka, he discovered the legend and relics of a mermaid whose body measured some 165 metres long, he decided to carry on the story and bought a length of rope, also 165 metres. He took the rope with him on his journeys around the world. It brought him closer to the mermaid, and became a link between fiction and reality, past and present, and between Japan and the different countries in which the work is exhibited. Acquired by the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco in 2018, the installation "Travels with a 165 metre mermaid" (1998 - present) is the starting point of the exhibition, which also includes new creations made in Monaco by various artisans, invited to take over the story themselves.
The exhibition is inspired by a Japanese medieval legend that tells the story of a mermaid, whose body measured 165 metres long, and who was washed ashore on a beach in Fukuoka, in southern Japan. The legend is the vehicle for the artist's creative process, combining installations, films, sculptures, photographs, and texts.
We follow the travelling artist's adventures and his many meetings, from his native Japan to the Principality of Monaco, via Brazil, Australia, and numerous other countries. He explores a world that, for him, has no borders and where mermaids meet men, where each has his or her place, where poetry makes anything possible. His work is based on "relational aesthetics", with each contributor adding their own stone to the construction, making this a narrative, participative work that is gradually enriched with each newly exhibited production.