Mariko Mori

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Mariko Mori
森 万里子
Mariko Mori
Mariko Mori at the Japan Society Panel on Art & Nature on 2010
森 万里子

(1967-02-21) February 21, 1967 (age 56)
Tokyo, Japan
Alma mater
Known forPhotography, Digital art, Sculpture
MovementContemporary Art, Pop Art, Environmental Art

Mariko Mori (森 万里子, Mori Mariko, born 1967) is a Japanese multidisciplinary artist. She is known for her photographs and videos of her hybridized future self, often presented in various guises and featuring traditional Japanese motifs. Her work often explores themes of technology, spirituality and transcendence.

In 2010, she founded the Faou Foundation,[1] an art nonprofit based in New York City.

Early life and education[edit]

Mariko Mori was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1967.[2][3][4] She comes from a wealthy family; her father is an inventor and technician, and her mother is a historian of European Art.[2][5]

While studying at Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo in the late 1980s, Mori worked as a fashion model.[6] In 1989, she moved to London to study at the Byam Shaw School of Art and then the Chelsea College of Art and Design, from where she graduated in 1992.[7][8] After graduating, she moved to New York City and participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art.[9]


Mori's early work references traditional Japanese culture and ancient history but is characterized by futuristic themes and characters. Her early photography is heavily influenced by cosplay. Fantastic deities, robots, alien creatures and spaceships are featured in videos and photographs with the artist herself dressed up in various self-made costumes as characters.[10] Present throughout her career is a fascination with technology and spirituality, with technology as a means of transcending and transforming consciousness and self.

Mori's early works, such as photograph Play with Me (1994), use her own body as the subject, and she costumes herself as a sexualized, technological alien woman in everyday scenes. While her tableaus are fantastic and futuristic, the role played by the female characters she portrayed were often traditional, gendered roles such as a waitress in Tea Ceremony (1995), a futuristic version of the female Buddhist deity Kichijoten in Pure Land (1996-1998), or a female Japanese pop star in Birth of a Star.

Mori attributes her fascination with consciousness and death to experiencing sleep paralysis in her early-twenties for several hours which left her unsure if she was alive or dead.[11]

The juxtaposition of Eastern mythology with Western culture is a common theme in Mori's works, often through layering photography and digital imaging,[12] such as in her 1995 installation Birth of a Star. Later works, such as Nirvana show her as a goddess, transcending her early roles via technology and image, and abandoning realistic urban scenes for more alien landscapes.

At the 47th Venice Biennale (1997), Mori had two works exhibited, a photo collage titled, Empty Dream (1995) shown in the Japanese Pavillon, and the 3-D video installation, Nirvana (1997) which was shown in the Nordic Pavillon.[13]

Mori's work is featured in many public museum collections, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum,[3] Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA),[14] Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago,[15] and others.

Personal life[edit]

She is married to composer Ken Ikeda.[16] They have created collaborative work together, with Ikeda composing music and/or sound for many of Mori's pieces.[16]


Play With Me (1994)[edit]

Standing outside a Tokyo toy store, Mori dressed herself as a cyborg—with light blue hair in long ponytails, metallic blue hard-shell plastic top, silver plastic gloves, and a dress. Mori dresses similarly to the toys sold inside the store, while being ignored by the patrons who are entering to her left.[17]

Subway (1994)[edit]

Mori stood in a Tokyo subway car dressed as if she just landed from outer space. She was dressed in a silver metallic costume with a headset, microphone, and push-buttons on her forearm. This transformation—along with Play With Me—was to explore different constructed identities.[17]

Empty Dream (1995)[edit]

Mori manipulates a photo of a real public swimming place as she inserts herself in a blue plastic mermaid costume in several locations within the scene.[18] This image refers to, among other things, the rising of technology and philosophy around the creation of man through biotechnology.[17] This work was one of two by Mori that were featured at the 47th Venice Biennale (1997).[13]

Oneness (2003)[edit]

Oneness, which was first exhibited at Deitch Projects, New York, in 2003, is also the title of a group of six alien sculptures—made from soft, skin-like material—that hold each other’s hands in a circle. They are sensitive to human touch, lighting up when hugged. Oneness presents the dimensions of spirituality, photography and fashion into a deep look on the originality of the artist's skill hence the usage of technology's brand new trends. The outlook designs of Oneness gathers the capacity nevertheless the ability to use advanced technology knowledge converted to some sort of mystic and UFOs.[19]

Including in Oneness you can find some sub-works such as the Wave-UFO, a 6.000 kg dome where the visitor, once inside it, can see projected paintings reworked with computer graphics and then transformed into photographs in the interior dome of the Wave UFO.[19] Conceptualization and prototyping of the Wave UFO was realized during Mori's residency at Eyebeam Art+Technology Center in Chelsea, New York.[20]


Rebirth is an exhibition from works spanning a number of years that was first shown in London at the Royal Academy of Art in 2012 and came to Japan Society in New York City in 2013.[21] It is seen as a major departure from her previous work in that has far less to do with contemporary media and influences. One such example in this collection is Flat Stones (2006), which is a collection of ceramic rocks arranged similarly to a Jomon archaeological site.[21] Mori also took inspiration from ancient Celtic practices, notably the stone circles in her Transcircle 1.1 (2004), a group of LED lit columns that periodically shift color.[22] Such engagement with prehistoric cultures derive from her search for universal values shared by humanity.[23]

Faou Foundation[edit]

In 2010, Mori founded a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the Faou Foundation, (the word "faou" is a neologism created by Mori meaning "creative force").[24][25] Mori is listed as founder and president of the organization. Inspired by Buddhism and ecology, the Faou Foundation's mission is to create six art installations around the world as homages to the natural environment of each locale.

So far, Faou Foundation has created 2 projects of six projects:

Primal Rhythm = Premiered in 2011, Miyako Island, Okinawa, Japan. It is a monument with two large sculptures:[26][27]

-Sun Pillar: 4.2 meters tall, weighing 2.9 tons, a column set atop a rock promontory. It reflects the colors of the sea and sky and casts shadow across the bay each winter solstice.

-Moon Stone: a translucent sphere that changes color by the tides of the sea.

On the winter solstice each year, the shadow of the Sun Pillar will reach the Moon Stone, serving as, Mori writes: "a ceremonial emblem of eternal rebirth for all living things."

•Ring: One with Nature = Premiered in August 2016, it is 2 ton weighing, 3 meters-diameter giant acrylic ring. It is on permanent view atop a waterfall called "Véu da Noiva", in Cunhambebe State Park, Muriqui, Brazil.  The color of the ring is changed by the sun, from hues of blue to gold.[28][29]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • 1997 – Menzione d’onore, for her work Nirvana (1997), Venice Biennale[30]
  • 2001 – 8th Annual Award as a "Promising Artist and Scholar in the Field of Contemporary Japanese Art", Japan Cultural Arts Foundation[30]


  • Tezuka, Miwako; Sakurai, Motoatsu (2013). Rebirth: Recent Work by Mariko Mori. Japan Society. ISBN 978-0300196887. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  • Eccles, Tom; Schneider, Eckhard; Mori, Mariko (2004). Mariko Mori: Wave UFO. Bregenz, Austria: Kunsthaus Bregenz. ISBN 978-3883757216. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  • Celant, Germano; Nakazawa, Shin Ichi; Mori, Mariko (1999). Mariko Mori – Dream Temple. Milan, Italy: Fondazione Prada. ISBN 978-8887029116. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)


  1. ^ "Faou Foundation | A Foundation created by Mariko Mori". faou. Retrieved 2021-07-22.
  2. ^ a b Itoi, Kay (2001-11-20). " Magazine Reviews - Tea with Mariko". Retrieved 2019-11-05. born in 1967, you are from one of the world's wealthiest families but you have never publicly spoken about it.
  3. ^ a b "Art Collection Online: Mariko Mori". The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. Retrieved 2019-11-05.
  4. ^ "The Artist Project: Mariko Mori on Botticelli's The Annunciation". The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 2019-11-04. Mariko Mori, born in 1967, is a Japanese multidisciplinary artist interested in history and science. She is based in London, New York, and Tokyo.
  5. ^ "Mariko Mori". Widewalls. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  6. ^ Sugiura, Kunié. "Mariko Mori Interview". Journal of Contemporary Art, Inc. Retrieved 2019-11-05. Mori: That originates from when I was a fashion model, at around age sixteen. Often I designed my own cloths and made them myself (I studied at a fashion college)
  7. ^ Hallmark, Kara Kelley. 2007. Encyclopedia of Asian American artists. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press. p. 129.
  8. ^ "Mariko Mori". Art+Culture Projects. Retrieved 2019-11-05.
  9. ^ "'Nirvana' Via Spectacle". Los Angeles Times. 1998-05-27. Retrieved 2019-11-05.
  10. ^ Holzwarth, Hans W. (2009). 100 Contemporary Artists A-Z (Taschen's 25th anniversary special ed.). Köln: Taschen. pp. 386–391. ISBN 978-3-8365-1490-3.
  11. ^ "The Art of Mariko Mori | Kyoto Journal". 20 August 2011. Retrieved 2016-03-07.
  12. ^ Wilson, Ellen S. (July 1998). "Mariko Mori and Salvador Dali". Carnegie Magazine. Archived from the original on 2008-06-18. Retrieved 2019-11-05.
  13. ^ a b Borggreen, Gunhild. "Hz #4 - Japan in Scandinavia". Retrieved 2019-11-05.
  14. ^ "Esoteric Cosmos". LACMA Collections. Retrieved 2019-11-05.
  15. ^ "Mariko Mori, Birth of a Star, 1995". MCA. Retrieved 2019-11-05.
  16. ^ a b Rosenberg, Karen (2013-10-10). "A Turnabout From Manga to Zen". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-11-05.
  17. ^ a b c Fineberg, Jonathan (2000). Art Since 1940. Strategies of Being (paperback) (Second ed.). Upper Saddle, New Jersey: Prentice Hill Publishers. pp. 494–5. ISBN 0-13-183978-0.
  18. ^ "Mariko Mori at Brooklyn Museum of Art (1999)". World Sculpture News, 5(4). pp. 81–82. Retrieved 2019-11-05.
  19. ^ a b Deitch Projects Archived 2011-09-27 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ "Wave UFO at Eyebeam". Archived from the original on 2014-02-02. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
  21. ^ a b Rosenberg, Karen (October 10, 2013). "A Turnabout From Manga to Zen 'Rebirth: Recent Work by Mariko Mori,' at Japan Society". New York Times. Retrieved 2019-11-07.
  22. ^ "Rebirth: Recent Work by Mariko Mori". Streaming Museum. 2013. Retrieved 2019-11-05.
  23. ^ Paik, Sherry (18 July 2021). ""Mariko Mori"". Ocula.
  24. ^ Indrisek, Scott (May 2011). "Crystal Flag: Mariko Mori Wants To Bring Her Nature-Loving Art To Six Continents" (PDF). Modern Painters. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  25. ^ "Faou Foundation". Faou. Archived from the original on March 15, 2017. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  26. ^ "Primal Rhythm | Faou Foundation created by Mariko Mori". faou. Retrieved 2023-10-08.
  27. ^ "Faou Artworks | A Foundation created by Mariko Mori". faou. Retrieved 2023-10-08.
  28. ^ "Ring: One with Nature | Faou Foundation created by Mariko Mori". faou. Retrieved 2023-10-08.
  29. ^ "Artist Mariko Mori Explains Her Stunning Rio 2016 Art Installation". Vogue. 2016-08-08. Retrieved 2023-10-08.
  30. ^ a b Castro, Jan Garden (November 2015). "The Oneness of an Endless Universe: A Conversation with Mariko Mori". Sculpture Magazine. Retrieved 2019-11-04.

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