The term “Thomasson” comes from the art of Street Observation, and I heard about the term for the first time in my life from a friend of mine who is an artist. Anyway, Genpei Akasegawa, Matsuda Tesuo and Minami Shinbo coined this term in the early 1970s to refer to “the detritus of urban architecture.” Scholars of street observation truly believe that “Thomassons” will become something more than art by virtue of passers-by’s self-eliminating action of daily observation.
The emergence and development of the art of street observation throughout the turbulent 1970s is no doubt fascinating. However, I prefer emphasizing Thomassons’ power in evoking empathy to treating them as the axis of reference for the exhibition. In other words, I seek to address the questions as to how the change of perspectives breathes new life into these out-of-function artificial objects, and why the objects deemed redundant or useless by the social system in a modernized city where stages and characters are forged by customary practices can evoke our empathy with minimum effort. In addition to the objective factors that can be directly attributed to history, there tend to be some things more personal and touching. I certainly expect agents may summon up energy from such kind of touching moments.
Of course, one who exerts the power of empathy tends to be somewhat miserable at the beginning, but will probably end up with finding great delight. “The quintessence of street observation is the point at which you might have a feeling of melancholy when you see a worn-out manhole cover, have a sense of pity when you see the fliers on the walls or the truncated poles on the roadside reminiscent of the cut-off penis and testicles in the Sada Abe event, and indistinctly see the microcosm of the boundless universe when you stare at the chickweed thriving out of the abandoned and rusted iron-made hand pump,” said Terunobu Fujimori, a member of the Street Observation Society.
I place the term “everyday” as a prefix adjective of “Thomassons” because the title Everyday Thomassons refers not so much to a new configuration of concepts borrowed from other contexts as to our quotidian feelings about the things already existing yet utterly ignored. Serving as tiny gear wheels of the societal apparatus, we may have been quite familiar with this kind of feelings. We may as well act out of the system’s dictates and refuse to feel. Or, we may live by observing Thomassons every day.
Based on the aforementioned philosophy, Double Square Gallery and I invite several artists who share a common interest in the theme of Everyday Thomassons to accomplish this elaborately organized exhibition with concerted efforts. This exhibition features an eclectic mix of newly created artworks and existing ones. The viewers may not necessarily agree that the exhibited works fall in line with the theme of this exhibition. Nevertheless, the point I try to make here is that a majority of contemporary artworks, if not all, are actually created with a subtle touch of “Thomasson;” the term “everyday” thus metamorphoses into an adverb.