Review: Chim↑Pom | ‘Why Open?’ | White Rainbow

Review: Chim↑Pom | ‘Why Open?’ | White Rainbow

12 June 2018

Aurelia McGlynn-Richon

Aurelia McGlynn-Richon explores an immersive exhibition of a Japan beyond reach.

White Rainbow gallery brings Chim↑Pom to London audiences, seeking to spotlight artistic practices never before seen in the UK, championing the work of emerging and mid-career Japanese artists working in a range of media, with particular focus on film and installation based practices.

Chim↑Pom (formed 2005, Tokyo, Japan) is an artist collective including Ryuta Ushiro, Yasutaka Hayashi, Ellie, Masataka Okada, Motomu Inaoka and Toshinori Mizuno. Amongst the many questions, Chim↑Pom asks: why not reach Fukushima by underground tunnel?  The group opened a manhole cover in Tokyo and filmed what they saw.  Social critique underpins the group’s work, as the collective isn’t afraid to cause controversy in the service of their message.  Titles such as ‘Asshole of Tokyo’—a tranquil, ominous film of a sewage tunnel opening—serves as a metaphorical reminder of the shadowed details of the city’s body that, although mundane, are key components of a darker social order. The exhibition (which includes an annex containing models and archival material of the project) encourages its viewer to examine the familiar of everyday, shifting their focus and encouraging them to question.

There is also an emphasis on notions of  ‘access’  in the exhibition represented in a video (The Grounds, 2016) shown alongside a plaster cast sculpture of the footprints of Chim↑Pom member, Ellie, being denied entry into the US. This incident inspired the group to dig under an unofficial tunnel existing below the Tijuana border for her to plant her feet on American soil.

The idea of a whole network of tunnels represented in the exhibition connects back not only to the Tijuana tunnels, but also to inaccessible Fukushima. Despite this, the group entered a Fukushima Nuclear Zone and installed an exhibition across abandoned properties in the area. The exhibition could not be entered, so  Chim↑Pom enables access to Fukishima by using a doorbell connected to the gallery as part of the work.  After pressing the doorbell, I found myself in the grips of an immersive cosmic setup of installations surrounded by darkness.


Aurelia McGlynn-Richon, 2018.


[Asia House has been pleased to collaborate with White Rainbow Gallery previously on an exhibition of the work of leading Japanese artist, Kumi Machida ( Dec. 2015)].

Chim↑Pom Why Open? Will run until the 7 July 2018 at White Rainbow, 47 Mortimer Street, London W1W 8HJ.