Embrace the Void: Japanese artist duo Mouhitori makes urban transformation visible

Cities are organic; they live and breathe, and they change over the course of time. Some parts grow while others die off and are forgotten. Blessed with a keen eye for such moments of transition, Japanese artist duo Mouhitori turn these interstitial states into works of art that investigate the physical and metaphysical boundaries of urban space.

Mouhitori, Japanese for “someone else,” is the artist moniker of Tamaki Ono and Kiyohito Mikami who live and work in Onomichi. Nesting in the southern part of the country, near Hiroshima, this coastal hillside town squeezes between the slopes and the water. Back in the days of its original settlement, the hill was the preferred place to build. Hugging the mountain and couched in tall trees and shrubs, the old town offered a great view and environment. But times change – and the once thriving community of the Yamate district, with its timber frame houses and steep narrow staircases, dwindled away, one by one, leaving abandoned and rotting buildings behind. Soon enough, the area became known for its undesirability, its derelict houses serving as monuments to demographic change and the city’s transformation and commodification. As the area lost its vibrancy and vigor, living in Yamate also changed.


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