Threatening the precarious peace of everyday life are unforeseen incidents, disease and emotional turbulence. Such are the dramatic narrative threads running through “Song to Life, Struggles of the Soul,” the third installment of the “Ascending Art Annual” at Wacoal Studyhall Kyoto. Focusing on early career works by three young female contemporary artists, these seemingly negative stimuli are artistically productive and are employed by the artists to celebrate what the exhibition heralds as the “dynamism of life.”

The impetus for Maki Ohkojima’s whale theme was traveling for 2½ months on the French oceanographic research vessel Tara in 2017. Coming upon a dead whale, its skin melting and its fat floating on the sea surface, Ohkojima saw the birds, fish and sharks gathering to consume it. Subsequently she began thinking of the sea as the primordial “soup” begetting life, then swallowing it back up again to sustain other lives, and hence her “whale series” began.

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