Kazuki Fukuda-Abe Endowed Lecture Series in Contemporary Japanese Arts

Phases of Nothingness: Mono-ha’s Discursive Origins and Contemporary Impact


Phases of Nothingness: Mono-ha’s Discursive Origins and Contemporary Impact


Mika Yoshitake



Dr. Mika Yoshitake considers the origins and contemporary impact of Mono-ha, a Japanese artistic movement centered in Tokyo that emerges in the context of a self-critical turn against modern rationalism in avant-garde art circles of the late 1960s. Representing a tendency to present transient arrangements of natural and industrial materials, one of Mono-ha’s central formative principles presents all elements (subject, material, and site) as inseparable and nonhierarchical. This principle is examined through the writings of the group’s key ideologue, Lee Ufan. Lee’s discovery of Sekine Nobuo in a landmark essay, “Beyond Being and Nothingness” (1971) offers insights into three conditional modes of experience: gesture, corporeality, and topos. Following a close examination of Lee’s theories that integrate Eastern and Western ontology, this lecture examines how these perceptual attitudes contribute to a wider resurgent interest in recent artistic practices to question contingencies of the object.

The lecture was held on Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 6 pm.

Publication Date

Spring 3-6-2014


Art and Design | Arts and Humanities | Photography


Dr. Mika Yoshitake is Assistant Curator at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden where she has coordinated Ai Weiwei: According to What? (2012), Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950 (2013) and curated Dark Matters (2012) and Gravity’s Edge (2014). She is the curator of Requiem for the Sun: The Art of Mono-ha (2012), an exhibition that took place at Blum & Poe in Los Angeles and Gladstone Gallery in New York and received an AICA (International Association of Art Critics) award for Best Show at a Gallery Nationally. Mika has coordinated museum retrospectives on artists Lee Ufan and Takashi Murakami, and contributed catalogue essays in Carl Andre: Sculpture as Place (Dia Art Foundation, 2014); Tokyo 1955–1970: A New Avant-garde (The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2012), Lee Ufan: Marking Infinity (Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 2011), Target Practice: Painting Under Attack, 1949–78 (Seattle Art Museum, 2009), and ©MURAKAMI (The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2007). She has served on the jury for Takashi Murakami’s GEISAI art festival and was guest curator for ArtPace San Antonio (Fall 2014). Mika received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History from UCLA, and B.A. in Art History and Political Science from UC Berkeley

Phases of Nothingness: Mono-ha’s Discursive Origins and Contemporary Impact