Mariko Mori

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Mariko Mori
森 万里子
Mori Mariko at the Japan Society Panel on Art & Nature 2010.jpg
Mariko Mori at the Japan Society Panel on Art & Nature on 2010
BornFebruary 21, 1967
Known forPhotography, digital art, sculpture
Notable work
Birth of a Star, Nirvana, Dream Temple, Wave-UFO, Pure Land, Tom Na-hui
MovementContemporary Art, Pop Art, environmental art
AwardsMenzione d’onore Venice Biennale, (1997)

8th Annual Award as a Promising Artist and Scholar in the Field of Contemporary Japanese Art, Japan Cultural Arts Foundation, (2001)

Mariko Mori (森 万里子, Mori Mariko, born 1967) is a contemporary Japanese artist.


Mariko Mori was born in Tokyo in 1967. Mori's father is an inventor and technician, and her mother is an art historian of European Art.[1] While studying at Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo in the late 1980s, Mori worked as a fashion model. In 1989, she moved to London to study at Byam Shaw School of Art and the Chelsea College of Art and Design and studied there until 1992.[2] After graduating, she moved to New York City and she participated in the Independent Study program at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Mariko Mori splits her time between London, New York, and Tokyo.[3]

Early Work[edit]

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 video and photography with the artist herself dressed up in various self-made costumes as these characters.[4]

Present throughout her career is a fascination with technology and spirituality, with technology as a means of transcending and transforming consciousness and self.

While her tableaus were fantastic and futuristic, the role played by the female characters she portrayed were often traditional, gendered roles such as a waitress in Tea Ceremony, a futuristic version of the female Buddhist deity Kichijoten in Pure Land, 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.[5]

Exhibitions and works[edit]

Mori's early works, such as her photograph Play with Me, use her own body as the subject, and she costumes herself as a sexualized, technological alien woman in everyday scenes.

The juxtaposition of Eastern mythology with Western culture is a common theme in Mori's works, often through layering photography and digital imaging, 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.

Play With Me (1994): 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.[6]

Subway (1994): 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.[6]

Empty Dream (1995): 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. This image refers to, among other things, the rising of technology and philosophy around the creation of man through biotechnology.[6]

Oneness (2002): 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 UFO's.[7]

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.[7] Conceptualization and prototyping of the Wave UFO was realized during Mori's residency at Eyebeam Art+Technology Center in Chelsea, New York.[8]

Rebirth is an exhibition from works spanning a number of years that was first shown in London at the Royal Academy of Art and came to Japan Society in New York City in 2013. 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", which is a collection of ceramic rocks arranged similarly to a Jomon archaeological site.[9]

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 "eternal light").[10][11] 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.


  1. ^ "Mariko Mori". Widewalls. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  2. ^ Hallmark, Kara Kelley. 2007. Encyclopedia of Asian American artists. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press. p. 129.
  3. ^ "Sean Kelly Gallery - Mariko Mori - Artist Biography". Retrieved 2016-03-07.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "The Art of Mariko Mori | Kyoto Journal". Retrieved 2016-03-07.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b Deitch Projects Archived 2011-09-27 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Wave UFO at Eyebeam
  9. ^ Rosenberg, Karen (October 10, 2013). "A Turnabout From Manga to Zen 'Rebirth: Recent Work by Mariko Mori,' at Japan Society". New York Times. Retrieved March 7, 2015.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "Faou Foundation". Faou. Retrieved March 6, 2016.

External links[edit]