Yoko Terauchi at Museum für Post und Kommunikation (1996)

Review of exhibition Hot Line in Berlin, Germany (1996).

R. J. Preece
artdesigncafé - art | 15 September 2009
This review first appeared in Asian-Pacific Sculpture News, 2(4), page 52 in 1996.

Yoko Terauchi at Museum für Post und Kommunikation

Art in unexpected places offers great opportunities to rethink the purpose and roles of art in our society. The recent show by Yoko Terauchi, situated inside the Museum für Post und Kommunikation in Berlin—a space dedicated to the history of postal and telecommunication— offers one such opportunity.

For this series of exhibitions, the main condition set by the museum was for artists to show work that uses the materials of postal or telecommunication. In the first [exhibition], French artist, Jean Luc Cornec created sculptures made of telephone parts, including a lifesize form of a sheep. [Then] German artist Beate Hoffmeister created an abstract wall sculpture using telephone books. The third artist in the exhibition, Terauchi, a London-based Japanese artist, was selected for her work using telephone cable.

While Yoko Terauchi’s work now utilizes other materials, as in her Air Castle installation at Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket Gallery earlier this summer, during the years between 1983-87, Terauchi produced a series of over 100 sculptures from telephone cable entitled Hot Line.

Influenced by Buddhist and Chinese philosophy, Yoko Terauchi is interested in resolving Western notions of opposites, continuums, and hence conflict. She demonstrates her concern for balances, "a world without conflicting relationships in a visual form, to reveal the meaninglessness of segregation by the fundamental character of the material."

With Yoko Terauchi’s concern for the metaphysical, the material becomes just one possible manifestation in her work. With the contrasts of color and texture between the exterior monochrome tubes and colorful wire inside, she uses telephone cable as a medium to approach, as she says, "the equalness of inside and outside." By cutting the boundary of the tubing, she makes the wire’s position equal to that of the tubes. While the concept is metaphysical, the visual qualities of the material also prove striking.

In Hot Line 107 (1989), Yoko Terauchi cuts and hangs the cable up and over the floor, exposing the sleek silver inside of the cable balanced by the multitude of colorful wires which pull it back and make the form possible. In Hot Line 23 (1983), the outside of the wire, in a repeated black, circular form, stands upright, balanced by the colorful interior wires which are carefully draped over the black bottom of the circle. In Hot Line 109 (1981), one continuous line is created, alternating between the black exterior of the cable, sweeping up to expose the silver interior, down to a path of multi-colored wire resting on the floor.

While the work itself stands on its own, Yoko Terauchi’s work is not intended to be aligned conceptually, or even physically with the purpose of the museum. In this instance, the exhibition provides a new way to view a telephone cable, as a vehicle for expression in art.