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The typical white cube gallery is not unlike a sumo ring. Both are bare, sanctified spaces, where we can stare intently at the participants’ strenous efforts to impress. While the dohyo is purified by salt, the antiseptic agents in the case of the white cube gallery are white paint, light and an attitude that ignores the history of the venue. Coming as quite a contrast to this sterility is the exhibition by Ryoichi Yamazaki at the Nakaochiai Gallery in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Instead of the usual selection of disembodied artworks floating on soulless white walls that you get elsewhere, this exhibition makes full use of the venue’s offbeat characteristics. The gallery was once a typical shop-house in a shotengai (small shopping street) and still has much of that feel. There is a commercial space fronting the road and normal tatami mat rooms upstairs with shoji doors. This setting is skillfully used to create a small but fascinating site-specific exhibition.

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