Tam Ochiai: 'Everyone Has Two Places'
Tam Ochiai’s newest show at Team Gallery – his sixth with them – is not only something to see, but something to experience as well. The Japanese-born nomadic artist presents Everyone Has Two Places, a poignant study of birth, death, and the poetic traces that life leaves throughout its travels. The exhibit boasts a generous number of medium sized paintings that use various techniques and colors, however they all retain a similarity: each painting has two places written on them.
For example, there’s “Wien, Los Angeles (Fritz Lang)” or “Stockholm, New York (Greta Garbo),” either of which exemplify the two places these people had: that of birth and of death. And while the collection includes some other incredibly famous characters, both fictional and real, like Whitney Huston, Humbert Humbert (from Lolita), and Nico, there are also a couple of pieces which focus on the places themselves. “I started these pieces from a place called Aachen in Germany, which is the first city in the dictionary, and ended with a place called Zwickau, also in Germany, which is the last city in the dictionary,” Ochiai told us, “These two cities just happened to be really close together, so ‘first’ and ‘last,’ ‘birth’ and ‘death,’ they’re so close to each other. It kind of made sense if I made this show after finding that out.”
But my burning question to Ochiai was why he chose the characters he did. “Everyone leaves a trace,” he said. “But some of them, for example ‘Memphis, New Orleans’ is almost like a poem for me, so it’s kind of beyond the person.” This magnetism is something that the artist has dealt with in his past work – the idea of the traces of life, which by talking about it and working with it becomes a trace in itself.
He showed me one of his published books, which featured drawings of a trace he uncovered that followed the actor John Cassavetes’ house through the assassination of John Lennon to the assassination of Sharon Tate (feel free to find the trace yourselves), which really made me understand what the larger picture was with this exhibit and what the relation of the two places meant. Birth and death, sure, but I was fascinated by the idea of distance that life unfolds between these two points, or places.
The beauty of Ochiai’s new show is that you begin to think at double speed about time and birth and death and the coincidences of life, and especially: if everyone has two places, what will be our second one?
Images courtesy of Team Gallery
Everyone Has Two Places will be showing at 47 Wooster Street until February 15th