Since his 2019 solo exhibition at SEIZAN GALLERY NEW YORK, Motohide Takami’s work has been the focus of attention from international media and the art world.
Takami’s work focuses on that which is truly frightening about the human heart. By evoking social phenomena in ways that evoke the distance that humans place between themselves and such occurrences, he draws the viewer’s attention to the dread born from our own indifference.
For this latest exhibition, Takami has chosen The Big Mac as a motif and we invite you to experience the message it conveys for yourself.
The Validity of -37.49
Oil on Panel
My works focus on the frightening ability people possess to remain indifferent to certain realities. I express such indifference to reality by painting disasters or frightening phenomena as if they were models, absent of all authenticity. I also believe that one of things that makes us human is the limitations that exist on our awareness, that which prevents us from being conscious of things even if we would like to.
The piece in this exhibition takes a different approach to tackling the frightening nature of our indifference and the limits of our awareness. By employing a motif which is not outwardly frightening and revealing the frightening themes that lie behind it, I hope to capture the circumstances that confront us at present. In addition, by referencing the fact that these circumstances are being left unaddressed, I hope that the piece will touch on the aforementioned themes of human indifference and the limits of our awareness.
The “-37.49” mentioned in the title, “The Validity of -37.49”, is a reference to the 2020 Big Mac Index. First proposed by the English journal The Economist in 1986, The Big Mac Index is a figure that indicates the gap between the genuine value of currencies and existing currency exchange rates by comparing the price of a Big Mac in each country (-37.49 is the index value for Japan and is based on the sale price of a Big Mac within the US. This places Japan #26 on the list, after Qatar, who have an index of -37.03). The sale price of a Big Mac represents a lower standard of minimum wage than per capita GDP and the price decreases depending on the overall percentage of laborers working at minimum wage. At the same time, the proportion of labor costs within the overall unit cost also decreases. From this, we can read that laborers in Japan are being paid less than equivalent laborers in Europe or America.
According to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) calculation of average annual wages among member nations, Japan was the only one of the world’s 13 major economies to see a decrease in its nominal wage growth rate, -4.54%, between the years of 1994 and 2018. Furthermore, when comparing the years 2012 and 2018, Japan experienced a positive nominal wage growth rate of 2.9%, but this was still 10% or more lower than countries with similar a GDP like England and Germany.
I believe that the increasing dependence of Japanese corporations on low wages, and the resulting suppression of wages for each individual, is something that all of us can sense, even without the help of graphs or statistics. With the added influence of COVID-19, the uncertain future facing the lifestyles of those who live in Japan is a source of much anxiety.
The word “rot” referenced in the title, “Pay no Attention to the Rot”, refers in part to dishes made from raw seafood or animal flesh.. The hamburger seen on the canvas is one such object. The motif can thus be interpreted as a symbol of the lack of growth in our living standards and also reflects the anxious gaze with which I (we)look on at our daily existence while knowing there are things which none of us has the power to change.
I hope that viewers of the work will see in it those vague fears and anxieties I (we) sense in the present day and age.
04/11/2020(wed) - 13/11/2020(fri)11:00-17:00
※ Open by appointment only during this exhibition on Saturdays.
※ Closed on Sundays and holidays.
Please contact us from here for appointment and any further enquiries.