Chicago: Museum of Contemporary Art Showcases Takeshi Moro's Work During 'First Fridays' Event


Participant giving the bowing gesture a try. (Photo by Candice Silva)

Chicago Stop IconBy Candice Silva
The Red Line Project

Posted: Monday, March 7, 2011

As people turned the corner to see a small white room surrounded by blank walls and a box-shaped structure      sitting on the floor at the Museum of Contemporary Art, looks of intrigue washed over their faces.

 “I wasn’t sure what this was at first, but it had me hooked and interested to seek more answers,” one of the onlookers said.

 But as the people turned their heads, they saw reasoning behind this piece. Straight ahead, there was a large  picture on one wall containing a person kneeling forward in a puffy, red jacket with red gloves, as a symbol of apology. If one looked closer at the structure, they would see indents for where you can place your hands, knees, head and feet in the same position.

Podcast: Listen to what visitors had to say about the piece:

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Takeshi Moro is the artist and was proudly standing next to his piece on “First Fridays” in the “UBS 12 x 12: New Artists/ New Work” exhibit. He explained to others what the photograph meant to him, as well as gave a background to what this gesture stands for in Japan.

“This piece can mean many different things to people,” Moro said, “but to me, I see it as an apology. This person is bowing because he is asking for forgiveness. This gesture shows they are sending high respect to the other person.”

Takeshi Moro is a local Chicago artist and uses traditional Japanese gestures within his photographs to explore how they represent self-expression. Moro has created a series of self-reflection photographs through large-scale color prints.

This piece, named “Pedestal of Apology” is a way of Moro showing others how to reenact this Japanese gesture. It guides participants to contemplate what the gesture means to them.

“This position is so relaxing” and “it reminds me of yoga,” were common responses people said after actively trying the gesture.

Moro was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan and became interested in the gesture of bowing by exploring other cultures. He received his Masters at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2006. Moro is currently an assistant professor of photography and digital media at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio.

His work will be featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art until March 27 and his art will also be displayed in the Incheon Art Platform in Incheon, Korea. Moro’s exhibition can also be seen at Art Chicago, an international fair of contemporary and modern art, from April 29 to May 2 at the Merchandise Mart.

Takeshi talked about how he receives his inspiration for his photos and his future goals as a photographer.

“I get my inspiration from self-reflection," he said. "I probably have too much internal conflict with myself as well, so this could be another reason. As for my goals, I always strive to ask difficult questions through my art. I’d like to keep making work that encourages the viewer to think.”

As Moro continues his career as a photographer, he hopes to continue inspiring others and believes everything will eventually fall into place.

“I hope that I can keep making work," he said. "I feel where my work ends up or how it is perceived is not up to me."

Moro was not the only artist that had his artwork displayed Friday night at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Jim Nutt’s modern paintings could be seen on the fourth floor, close to Susan Philipsz’s exhibit, “We Shall Be All,” which featured work that incorporated history and literature within a cappella folk music.

The theme on “First Friday,” was robots, so as one walked through the building, grabbed drinks or chatted away with friends, they could see the interesting life-like creatures roaming around the premises.


Life-size robot showing feelings of love to a visitor. (Photo by Candice Silva)

The Museum of Contemporary Art offers these events the first Friday of every month, thus the "First Fridays" moniker. Every month the museum showcases a different artist who is based in Chicago to provide others with new developments that are taking place within the city.

According to Erin Baldwin, Media Relations Manager for the Museum of Contemporary Art, the artists are selected by the MCA’s curators. The museum started the “UBS 12 x 12” exhibit in 2001 and has been popular ever since.

“The series started with regular exhibitions that showcased emerging Chicago artists. It was originally conceived for only one year, but it was so popular that we continued it and the series just celebrated the 100th 12 x 12 artist in December 2010,” Baldwin said.

The “First Fridays” event also included live music by DJ Josh Madden brother of Joel and Benji Madden of Good Charlotte, and a performance by Club Nutz. Complimentary hors d'oeuvres from Pucks Café were served, while beverages were also offered for purchase. Tickets for “First Fridays” are $18 at the door and $13 if you order them in advance.

Next month, the “First Fridays” theme is Derby and the museum will be displaying work by Alex Lehnerer.


Visitors enjoying the "First Fridays" event with music by DJ Josh Madden. (Photo by Candice Silva).

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