The work of Masahide Otani is exemplary. Each object is made of tinted plywood: chairs, tables, an easel, and scaffolding. But his objects are not exactly what they outwardly pretend to be. The scaffolding is not scaffolding, but rather, an object said to be scaffolding, an object formulated as scaffolding. And it is in this that the works are fundamentally exemplary, paradigmatic — because they are formulated in parallel. Reconstitution 2 is no more than café tables and chairs. Je fais is just a set of scaffolding. Chambre espagnol is nothing more than a canvas frame on an easel, yet all of these things are literally something else. They are a “second time”, a remake, a making again of, which means that these objects produce a shift within a gap. They acquire as a result, an exemplary and unquantifiable singularity.
Literal and exemplary, because it’s about a repetition, a reformulation: scaffolding is scaffolding is a tautology. But of course there is a shift in this second time, the object is not exactly the same because we must change our way of seeing it and of using it. Masahide Otani plays this shift, this gap. Firstly, by keeping the appearance of the objects intact, while neutralizing their original use through a change of material: none of the chairs can be used and it is obviously impossible to use the scaffolding. Then, by maintaining the possibility of function in these objects even though he perturbs it: in “ Chambre espagnol ”, despite the function of the easel being maintained, it is doubly absorbed, because not only is the object unusable but it also makes reference to a “perspectivist” illusion, in which Velàsquez himself could get lost.
And finally, in exposing precisely this shift and this gap, even down to language itself: that which is literal, repeated, is in itself, and no doubt it is here that their meaning is most profound; the translation in the meaning of the gap in their usage, in the meaning of this agrammaticality, Je fais, restores to language, to subject, to form and from what I can see, restores a new possible use that “makes it be again, sufficiently to render them their power, to the indifferent truth of tautology.” (Giorgio Agamben, Bartleby o della contingenza). However in these other uses, a shadow is already taking shape: these empty chairs, this empty canvas stretcher and this scaffolding, standing against the white walls, say or end up issuing a kind of construction site warning, “Caution: Men at Work” Are these ruins or is this work in progress? The works of Masahide Otani are here, yet again, exemplary.
Artist born in 1982 in Shibukawa, Japan.
- Paris, France