From Carrying to Caring

PAST & NOW – a retrospective of Tatsumi Orimoto

PAST & NOW is the title of the retrospective of Tatsumi Orimoto organized by the Onomichi City Museum of Art (Hiroshima) from August 4th to September 16th. It honors one of the most active performance artists of Japan who has been traveling and showing his work in four continents since 1982.

The curators of the show and authors of the catalogue Noritoshi Motoda and Shinji Umebajashi enrol Orimoto’s work in 6 chapters.

The earliest works consisted of metal-bracelets and -tags which Orimoto attached to arms and clipped to ears of people – single or groups – he photographed in Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Australia and Japan.


In the 1980s Orimoto attracted attention by carrying-events, in which he carried bread, carton-boxes, a chimney, a tire-tube and other things alone or with somebody in various ways. This type of performance is still going on until today, when he carries a rabbit, a duck or a baby-pig, which are part of his performances with animals.

Tatsumi Orimoto: Carrying a Baby Pig on my Back, Juni 13, 2012, Poster (c) ART-MAMA Foundation

Bread-Man, which made him famous worldwide, developed out of carrying bread. Without a container Orimoto attached a loaf of bread or a number of different types of bread onto his face or around his head. Covered by this strange type of mask he performed not only in museums, but also in hospitals, stations and even in trains and boats. In public places and streets he often gathered large groups of people who formed surreal processions.


His father’s death forced Orimoto to take care of his mother who suffered from depression and Alzheimer. From 1996 on he created and documented numerous performances and events including “Art-Mama” as well as neighbors and friends within the domestic situation. After participating in the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001 he took the chance to expand these events with public lunches and gatherings of up to 500 grandmothers (Convent of Sao Bento de Castris, Evora, Portugal) in international locations and museums from Brazil to Denmark.

Last but not least the exhibition presented hundreds of his watercolors and pencil-drawings, which he created alongside of his performances especially while planning art-events, traveling and having his beer in the evening.

Everybody who likes the work of Orimoto or looks for an opportunity to get in touch with it should not miss this catalogue. Thoughtfully chosen examples of his work and shoots from the exhibition give an excellent overview on his work.

The catalogue is available at the ONOMICHI CITY MUSEUM OF ART, 17-19 Nishitsuchido-Cho, Onomichi-shi, Hiroshima 722-0032, Japan; please call for details!  Tel: 0081 (0) 849-23-2281 Fax: 0081 (0) 849-20-1682