Part of the opening night crowd at Giant Robot. Below: Eric Nakamura in front of David Choe's mural.
The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) offers history with the on-going “Common Ground: The Heart of Community” and celebrates cultural influence with “Landscaping America: Beyond the Japanese Garden”––currently on exhibit until January 6. JANM also has an understanding that there are shared influences, as seen by 2002-03 exhibit “Boyle Heights Project: Power of Place.”
Now JANM is moves Asian pop art forward with “Giant Robot Biennale: 50 Issues” by highlighting 10 young artists influenced by graffiti, comics, and animation. It’s cultural pop art form not hampered by stuffy dissertation that forbids developing content for sales. If it sells, it’s not a bad thing.
The Giant Robot show is more than a pop art sidebar to ©MURAKAMI, being held next door at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. While exhibits make a commentary about fine art expanding into a broad commercial appeal, ©MURAKAMI,'s Louis Vuitton boutique, with Murakami-designed merchandise, may bring up the question that influential branding will influence exhibitions at institutions the size of MOCA. Meanwhile, the smaller show at JANM states what looks good on a t-shirt may have just as much influence as to what can be considered art.
At the opening for Giant Robot, JANM Art Director Art Director Clement Hanami said ““Look at the crowd! This went beyond expectations.” It was Hanami who approached Giant Robot founder Eric Nakamura to exhibit work seen in Giant Robot, or by artists whose work have been sold in Giant Robot's galleries or online at their website. The crowd may have surprised those being exhibited as well. Nakamura himself said opening night, “I just see myself as a shy kid, who was hiding behind a drawing notebook growing up.”
The show was about attracting an audience who do not often attend galleries, many who do not know taking photos (especially flash photography) is rarely permitted inside a museum. “We want people to take photos” says Hanami, and admitted it was something he had to convince JANM staff to allow. That opening night, cell phones and digital cameras were part of the show as the mixed crowd posed with artists, or took close up photos of exhibited work.
A gallery goer at the Giant Robot survey took out an iPhone to document themselves with an artist, then made an order from the Giant Robot store online store.
view [JANM Giant Robot]
Giant Robot Biennale: 50 Issues.
November 3, 2007 - January 13, 2008
Developed in collaboration with Eric Nakamura of Giant Robot and the Japanese American National Museum