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Artist Thomas Bayrle stops traffic at Louis Vuitton Tokyo


German artist Thomas Bayrle installs his humorous traffic jams and car parts in the glass box of Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo

Sally Ashley-Cound,

In the heart of Tokyo’s hustle and bustle is the quiet refuge of Espace Louis Vuitton, an expansive show space located above the Louis Vuitton store on Jingumae in the Shibuya-ku ward of the city.

The ‘glass-box’ space is currently host to work by the German artist Thomas Bayrle, a pioneer of pop and media art from the 1960s through to today. Bayrle’s work Monuments of Traffic, which is open daily from 12pm to 8pm, is the seventh show to be hosted by Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo and uses movement, model cars and car parts to humorous effect.

One of the first artists to produce computer-generated, animated art, Bayrle was trained as a weaver, which greatly influenced the focus on order and pattern in his work. Reflecting the grid pattern of the glass and steel walls of Espace Louis Vuitton, Monuments of Traffic has a graphical, circuit board-like quality to it.

Cardboard blocks in the central sculpture are arranged in tight formation, following a strict pattern; this formation is then repeated on the back walls as the base of photographs of the Swiss mountains, which are facing the effects of ever-increasing traffic. Rhythmical movements of windscreen wipers from a second sculpture fill the vast space with sound, adding to the atmosphere of the show. 

Bayrle’s vast work Carmageddon, of which the block pattern at the centre of this Tokyo show is an extract, was originally shown in 2012 at dOCUMENTA (13) – perhaps one of the world’s most important exhibitions for contemporary art – where the impact of its immense size could be fully appreciated. The extract at Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo allows visitors to see the sculpture close up and get a sense of the feeling of a deserted street that Bayrle has tried to achieve.

See more photographs from the exhibition here

Espace Louis Vuitton, 5-7-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001, +81 (0)3 5766 1094

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