In the Galleries - Hiraki Sawa: Migration CLOSES September 8 at the Saint Louis Art Museum

In the Galleries - Hiraki Sawa: Migration CLOSES September 8 at the Saint Louis Art Museum
Hiraki Sawa, Japanese, born 1977; Migration, 2003; digital video on DVD; duration: 7 min. 10 sec.; Saint Louis Art Museum, Funds given by Eleanor J. Moore 68:2004 © Hiraki Sawa

The lives of humans and other earthly animals are small and ephemeral in London-based Japanese artist Hiraki Sawa's brief black-and-white video "Migration." Using Eadweard Muybridge's 19th-century photographic studies of locomotion, Sawa digitally populates his spare, modest apartment with miniature figures that traverse the surfaces of his home. A nude figure disappears into a dark crevice, while tiny elephants lumber along the stretch of a wall-mounted pipe. It's a strangely purgatorial space — the blank wash of daylight seems to erase figures as they amble across countertops and floor tiles, moving toward an ethereal end that is not accretive but theirs alone to confront. Equal parts elegiac and existential, Sawa's vision is a solemn update of Muybridge's wonder-filled discovery of physical behavior — suggesting something fundamentally alienating in the illusionistic but ultimately antiseptic feats of virtual technology. Through September 8 at the Saint Louis Art Museum, 1 Fine Arts Drive (in Forest Park); 314-721-0072 or www.slam.org. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sun. (10 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri.)

 
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