Ryan McGinley has shared this awesome video diary from his recent trip to Tokyo for his shows Reach Out I'm Right Here and Animals. If you are in Tokyo, be sure to check them out before they close on September 29!
Where did you eat in Tokyo?
My favorite place is Jiro's youngest son's restaurant in Roppongi. You have to make a reservation far in advance and he serves the same amazing menu as his father. He serves you twenty pieces of sushi over a two-hour period.
Where did you shop? Comme des Garçons is half the price in Tokyo so I went to their flagship store and got lots of goodies for friends and myself. Obviously, I hit the many floors of Opening Ceremony in Shibuya. I also discovered a great Japanese designer called N. HOLLYWOOD. We wandered the thin streets of Harajuku, looking for killer thrift shops and I found an interesting photo bookstore/gallery called Vacant. Inside Vacant there is a great coffee shop called Little Nap.
What were some special things you did?
I held an event called McGinley's Zoo. The participants could choose from a selection of baby animals such as a pig, snake, monkey, goat, sheep, bunny or parrot. They could also pick from a variety of colored backdrops and posing nude was optional. Using their cell phones, I would take a photo of them holding the animal against the colored background. We printed the 3" by 5" photos on site. The day was a total whirlwind as I photographed close to 400 people in 7 hours. A lot of people brought their newborn babies and posed nude with them. I had the producer of the event behind me with a stopwatch to make sure everyone who signed up would get their photo taken. I'd never done anything like this ever before and it was really fun and silly.
What was the funniest thing that happened?
I had a book signing in conjunction with the gallery and fans had me signing shoes, phones, laptops, and cameras. The best object I signed was a muffin and then the guy ate it.
Where did you stay?
We stayed at the Park Hyatt and relived every single scene from Lost in Translation. I was trying to channel Bill Murray in every part of the hotel.
You had two shows over there, can you tell us about each of them?
My Animals exhibition was in the Shibuya Hikarie Mall. I didn't realize that all of the most prestigious galleries in Tokyo have a small branch in the mall. I found it shocking but realized it's totally normal in Japan. When you are buying your socks and underwear you can also buy one of my photos. The other exhibition was at Tomio Koyama Gallery, a much larger industrial space and I exhibited new works from my ongoing extensive travels through the American landscape.
Where does the title of the exhibition Reach Out I'm Right Here come from?
It's the lyrics from the song "Laura," written by my very close friend CHRISTOPHER OWENS. I directed a live music video for "Laura" about two years ago and those words have been stuck in my head ever since. I think it's very inviting and that's how I want my photos to feel—it's kinda my life mantra. I always use song lyrics for the titles to my exhibitions.
How was it working with Tomio Koyama?
It was my first solo show in Japan and working with Tomio was an honor. He's discovered so many influential Japanese artists such as Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara. He also shows many international artists that I'm a fan of like Tom Friedman, Paul McCarthy, and Richard Tuttle.
What did you find interesting about Japan?
I found it fascinating how Japanese people obey all the rules. I've based a career on breaking the rules so it's very strange to me. Everyone waits patiently for the duration of the light before crossing the street—even when there are absolutely no cars in sight. I felt kinda bad for jaywalking while I was there.
Reach Out, I'm Right Here and Animals close on September 29th, 2012
TOMIO KOYAMA GALLERY
Tokyo Japan 135-0024 Map