Tadashi Kawamata


Tree Huts, 2013
Installazione in situ / Installation in situ, Palazzo Strozzi, Firenze
Legno / Wood
Courtesy the artist and galerie kamel mennour, Paris
Photo copyright CCC Strozzina, Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, Firenze
Photo: Martino Margheri, Markus Bader


Tree Huts, 2013
Site-specific installation, façade and courtyard of Palazzo Strozzi, Florence

Apnea, 2013
Site specific installation
In cooperation with LAC – Laboratorio Arti Civiche

Courtesy the artist and galerie kamel mennour, Paris



See the backstage on flickr


The installations of Tadashi Kawamata create a connection between existing architecture and new construction, between permanent and provisional. For the Palazzo Strozzi, the artist has worked in three different areas, responding to each one’s particular spatial and symbolic characteristics, emphasizing the contrast between the Renaissance architecture, a symbol of power and eternity, and the transitory and precarious nature of the structures of his works.
On the façade and in the courtyard of the palazzo, the artist has continued the project Tree Huts, already realized in other locations around the world. A fundamental inspiration for the artist was experiencing the makeshift constructions by the homeless in New York in the Eighties: precarious structures that in their contrast with the surrounding space redefined the perception of space, function and the symbolic meaning of a place. The Tree Huts assume the appearance of ephemeral and transitory nests, made ​​with discarded materials found in situ. They have the likenesses of habitative units but remain open to a number of symbolic interpretations: a bird’s nest, a temporary shelter, even the idea of a sudden, precarious architectural growth unexpectedly sprouting from the austere, aristocratic architecture.
For the exhibition space of the CCC Strozzina, Kawamata has created the new installation Isola d’emergenza (“Emergency Island”) consisting of doors and windows in disuse found in the Palazzo Strozzi storage areas, objects that have lost their original function but still retain traces of a previous story. The doors hanging from the ceiling flip our perception from vertical to horizontal, from a stable horizon to an unstable condition of suspension. The visitor is placed in a state of uncertainty and physical and metaphorical disorientation, challenged to experience the work from different points of view.
Both the installation for the exhibition and the Tree Huts are characterized by an essential aesthetic that we find in those dwellings built in emergency situations, but also becoming metaphors for a state of emergency that goes beyond their more immediate connotation. They also seem to suggest a sense of existential insecurity. The assemblage of different materials comes together in ephemeral forms, destined to be destroyed. In the repetition of this action that emphasizes the cyclical nature of demolition and reconstruction, also characteristic of the Japanese architectural tradition, Kawamata creates an intrinsic connection through his projects that are distributed across different times and spaces. The idea of an open work, with its connotation of variability and redefinition, is at the basis of all his work, which can thus be seen as a unicum, a single large project in progress that can be conceived in its entirety only in the mind. The artist himself declares: “My project is never complete. It prolongs itself indefinitely. It is pure action.” Kawamata creates his installations with the participation of friends, local workers, young architects, artisans, and for the work at the Palazzo Strozzi with members of LAC – Laboratorio Arti Civiche. Thus, not only the final form of his works but the entire process of construction becomes an expression of inclusion and openness, a collective process based on dialogue and on the mediation between different points of view.


Tadashi Kawamata (1953, Japan; lives and works in Tokyo and Paris) has been on an artistic journey since his days as a student of painting, in the 1970s, that is remarkable for its lack of complacency. Taking nothing for granted, he engages us in a process that involves close consideration of the kinds of environments we make for ourselves, thereby raising questions of all-too-human need and desire. Kawamata’s gestures and materials, given the contexts within which they occur, are always smartly chosen. Tadashi Kawamata is well-known for his in situ interventions, assembled from, among other things, wooden planks, chairs and barrels. Whether built up into fragile Babylonian constructions, tree huts, roof installations or stretched out to form serpentine, his works offer, to those who experiment them, climb up onto them or set foot on them, another point of view—in every sense—over the place in which they are situated. His work has been exhibited all over the world, at institutions including the Daegu Art Museum (South Korea), the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the HKW in Berlin, the Art Tower Mito in Mito (Japan), the Serpentine Gallery in London, the Art Pace Foundation for Contemporary Art in San Antonio and the MACBA in Barcelona; it also has featured at numerous biennials, such as that of Venice (1982); documenta VIII and IX (1987-1992); the São Paulo Art Biennal (1987); the Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art (1993; the Münster Skulptur Projekte (1997); the Biennale of Sydney (1998); Art Focus in Jerusalem (1999); the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale in Niigata (2000 and 2012); the Shanghai Biennale; the Busan Biennale in South Korea (2002); the Valencia Biennale (2004), the Melle Biennale (2009) and the Evento Biennale in Bordeaux (2009).

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Con la grande mostra dedicata ad Ai Weiwei (23 settembre 2016-22 gennaio 2017) per la prima volta Palazzo Strozzi diventa uno spazio espositivo unitario che comprende facciata, Cortile, Piano Nobile e Strozzina.

L’arte contemporanea esce dalla Strozzina e si espande sia a livello espositivo che di comunicazione, in uno scenario in cui Palazzo Strozzi partecipa attivamente all’avanguardia artistica del nostro tempo.

Per questo motivo le informazioni relative alla mostra Ai Weiwei. Libero e il programma di mostre e attività future dedicato all'arte contemporanea saranno consultabili direttamente al sito www.palazzostrozzi.org e sui canali social di Palazzo Strozzi.