Art21 New York Close Up

Behind the Scenes with Mika Tajima

Artist Mika Tajima in her Brooklyn studio, 2013. Production still from the "New York Close Up" film "Behind the Scenes with Mika Tajima". © Art21, Inc. 2013.

Artist Mika Tajima in her Brooklyn studio, 2013. Production still from the New York Close Up film Behind the Scenes with Mika Tajima. © Art21, Inc. 2013.

What happens when back stage becomes front stage? At her Bushwick Brooklyn studio, artist Mika Tajima discusses the processes and ideas behind her two installational-performative works Today is Not a Dress Rehearsal (2009) and The Pedestrians (2011). Tajima describes how her fascination with the “immaterial labor” of film production—the constant behind the camera activity that’s not visible in a final film—led her to create a fully crewed, film set in the lobby of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Collaborating with artist Charles Atlas and the New Humans collective, Tajima conceived of Today is Not a Dress Rehearsal (2009) as “production as performance.” A crew of cameramen, audio operators, production assistants, and Tajima herself were all on public view in the museum as they shot philosopher Judith Butler and the amateur public speaking group Golden Gate Toastmasters perform. For The Pedestrians (2011), Tajima and her collaborators created an even more ambitious project that featured a larger film crew and ten days of performances centered around the theme of walking. At the South London Gallery, a dollying cameraman circled the perimeter of the exhibition space, recording footage of the performers, crew, and viewers that was then live projected back into the space. For Tajima, these hybrid performance productions question conventional distinctions between talent and crew, artist and audience, and public and private space. Also featuring work from the exhibitions Deal or No Deal (2008), The Double (2008), and The Architect’s Garden (2011) and the ongoing series The Extras (2011).

Mika Tajima (b. 1975, Los Angeles, California, USA) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

CREDITS | New York Close Up Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Editor: Mary Ann Toman. Cinematography: Don Edler, John Marton & Wesley Miller. Sound: Nicholas Lindner, Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Associate Producer: Ian Forster. Design & Graphics: Crux & Open. Artwork: Mika Tajima. Additional Camera & Sound: Jarred Alterman, Howie Chen, John Davis, Jim Granato & Eric Tsai. Thanks: Charles Atlas, Gina Basso, Andrew Bonacina, Judith Butler, Howie Chen, Joon Choi, Anne-Sophie Dinant, Eclipse Cheerleading Squad, Diana Gameros, Ben Gao, Golden Gate Toastmasters, Margot Heller, Vy Le, Carter McRee, Simon Parris, Beau Safken, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Frank Smigiel, John Smith, Kim Smith, South London Gallery, Southwark Volunteer Police Cadets, Alice Theobald & Eric Tsai. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2013. All rights reserved.

New York Close Up is supported, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; The Lambent Foundation; Toby Devan Lewis; the Dedalus Foundation, Inc., The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and by individual contributors.