In her work Milky Way - Breath, Mihoko Ogaki from Toride, Japan, turns a sculpture of a decaying body into an image of the wondrous night sky. A recurrent image in art, this idea of rebirth, or the dead creating life, is a beautiful idea to contemplate. It’s always fascinating when artists can create a zen-like calm about the world and the cycles of life and death. When artists give us faith that the world goes on, it’s an aspect of the human disposition that we all experience and can connect with. But there are other ways to see this work that move beyond these eternal themes. As Constanze Friederike Rabanus analyzes in an essay on the Milky Way series,
“The new series Milky Ways by Mihoko Ogaki is about life, and the living individual including its emotions like sadness, joy, delight or even jealousy, rather than the topics birth and death, that already have been analyzed in the earlier series before thebeginning - after the end.”
In this piece the human figure looks tortured and contorted. Though Ogaki’s artworks deal so often with the human condition, the Milky Way series was the first to contain the human form. As Rabanus continues,
“In doing so she does not seem to be too interested in her own image, instead she tries to turn her inner self outwards in order to uncover her emotions. Her sculptures communicate this state by the use of light and light reflecting materials.”
This focus on the external is particularly intriguing, and demonstrates that this isn’t just a personal venture, but rather an exploration to reveal those hard-to-explain aspects of life. What is so effective about this work is that it takes those abstract ideas and makes them real. This is what art is good at, communicating the ideas that are hard to communicate. Overall, Ogaki takes the emotions of our human condition and gives them a physical presence. For more information on Ogaki’s works, click here.