Ei Arakawa

Performance People

May 12 – August 5, 2018
Opening: Friday, May 11, 2018, 7.30 pm

Welcoming: Georg Kulenkampff, chairman
Introduction: Eva Birkenstock, director

Kunstverein für die Rheinlande and Westfalen, Düsseldorf, proudly presents the first institutional solo exhibition of Japanese-born, New York-based artist Ei Arakawa. Since more than a decade, Arakawa produces and stages performances, hybrid scenarios, and erratic installations through interactions with various people and types of objects; artists, musicians, writers, and art historians as well as paintings and sculptural settings. Drawing on artistic strategies of postwar avant-gardes such as the Japanese Gutai group, Fluxus around the world, as well as New York performance art from the 70s through to the 90s, it is the repetition of art histories, the commodification of experience, the desire for authenticity, and the false intimacy of networks which he subverts in his works.

Following his exploration of painting’s performative potential in Harsh Citation, Harsh Pastoral, Harsh Münster for Skulptur Projekte Münster 2017, Arakawa in Performance People revisits a seminal yet personal selection of performance art in order to re-evaluate the medium’s agency in our event- and influencer-driven society. He proposes an alternative reading of performance art, where its time-specificity is activated through an astrological analysis of the specific hour and place of “birth” of each work provided by American artist Sarah Chow. Thus in his new multimedia LED installation for the Kunstverein, performances like 7360 Sukiyaki by Tony Conrad (1973), May I Help You? by Andrea Fraser (1991) or Lee Lozano’s 1971 Untitled (Boycott Women) are being addressed as “persons” with their own psychological tendencies, karmic purpose, and inter-subjective will power. How do performances think and feel? How do they want to relate with you? How do they manifest their medium-specific dreams?

The rhythm of the exhibition corresponds with the Mercury transits during the months of May, June, July. Produced in collaboration with Sarah Chow and German composer Christian Naujoks, visitors will encounter radio shows, essays, music, and fictional interviews throughout the Summer. Please check the website of the Kunstverein for updates.

Curated by Eva Birkenstock

Press kit



Thursday, June 28, 7 pm
A historian's anxiety, an astrologer's confidence, an artist's mettle – Lecture

with Reiko Tomii (art historian, New York)

Sunday, August 5, 3 pm
Performance People – artist talk with  Ei Arakawa

Sunday, August 5, 4 pm
Your Favorite Sound Aspects Live! – Concert by Christian Naujoks

Thursdays, 5 pm
Performance People – Guided tours with the team of the Kunstverein


Installation view "Ei Arakawa – Performance People", Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf (May 12th - August 5th, 2018), photos: Katja Illner

Special thanks to: