Anarchic art collective Chim-Pom are no strangers to the world of fashion, memorably collaborating with none other than Mikio Sakabe back in spring summer 2011 and outfitting Garter’s LaForet limited shop in January of this year. It would fair to say that their contributions to fashion are of a critical nature, not necessarily adding to fashion, but the voice of dissent, the protestor outside Forever 21, the person who doesn’t clap out of politeness during a fashion show, a reminder that the status quo might well need challenging at some point. However, Chim-Pom don’t necessarily make their position clear, hiding behind chaos, controversy and their fair share of outright silliness in their varied output. Rather their critique is a goading one, too frivolous to frame a serious response to, but always managing to engage the viewer in the nagging sensation that all might not be well.
The group’s latest work is an actual shop and studio space in the Kitakore building Koenji, replacing the Garter gallery space and joining the ranks of Dog, Garter, ilil, Southpaw and Hayatochiri. The studio space is exactly as it sounds, an open area for members to work, and hopefully give fans a chance to see ideas, inspirations and new works in a state of flux. The shop, dubbed “Kane Zanmai” (three flavours of money) is an art installation in and of itself. In it the notion of value, pricing, consumerism and shops are debated, ridiculed, but also enjoyed. Everything can be brought, but the shop asks you to make the decision of whether you actually want to, there are affordably priced pieces next to the ludicrously expensive, a cheap item might be valueless to some, an expensive item priceless, it is all up for the shopper to decide, and given that the pieces are also art works forces a level of interaction with the work that an art gallery would not.
Greeting you on entry is Super Rat from the taxidermied series of Shibuya street rats re-rendered as the beloved Pikachu.
The theme of consumerism is everywhere, and you are very quickly made aware that it is looking back at you as you browse.
The space frames pieces that would normally be in a white gallery in the context of the artists studio, and is all the more engaging for it.
Chim-Pom member Ellie finds herself the subject of most of the new work, quite literally in many cases, here her fingers are chopstick stands.
Ellie’s head for you to take home.
Famous visuals are rendered wearable for the first time in Chim-Pom’s history, and will no-doubt open their work up to the generation who prefers to wear images rather than put them up on the wall.
One of the most interesting, and cheapest, works is the opportunity to buy footage from the CCTV in the shop – at a time of your choosing none the less – a perfectly mundane process of observation, but no doubt one of the most direct ways of challenging the shopper to think about concepts of value.
Elsewhere you can buy “Magic Kingdom” water drawn from the fountain at Disneyland Tokyo for 3000 yen or a set of 10 for 30,000.
Some priceless candy with a macabre flavor.
The most expensive item is also one intimate to Ellie, in this case her own tears, yours for 800,000 yen per drop.
Here you can peak into the studio space, can you catch a member at work on your visit?
Add this to yet another reason to visit the Kitakore building in Koenji, or to add it to your fashion rounds if you haven’t already. The Chim-Pom space might not leave you with too many certainties, but it will definitely get you thinking about scratching your consumerist itch with a printed t-shirt on the way out.