More Than Just Another Instagram Experience at BAMPFA

(L–R) Masako Miki, Karakasa-obake (Umbrella Ghost); Ungaikyo (Possessed Mirror); Kinoko (Mushroom Ghost); Kuchisake-onna (Mouth Tear Woman); and Abumi-guchi (Stirrup Mouth Furry Ghost); all 2018, wool on foam with walnut, wenge or cherry wood.  (Masako Miki / CULT Aimee Friberg Exhibitions)

From a distance, you might think the room at BAMPFA containing Masako Miki / Matrix 273 is in the lineage of the Color Factory or the Museum of Ice Cream—yet another colorful, twee, vapid Instagram experience. It's vibrantly hued in bright yellows and pinks, it's laid out in a combination of sculpture and wall painting, and it's perfect for a radial tilt shift and a Ludwig filter.

But while it's true you'll be taking photos the whole time you're at Matrix 273, there's far more here than meets the 'Gram. Get close to Miki's playful sculptures, and you'll see the patience in her craft, a detailed wool-on-foam technique sometimes augmented with slanted, Eames-esque wooden legs. Move around the room, and the change in perspective yields surprising coherence between sculptures and walls. What looks like a white hanging pestle becomes the nose of a face; the curve of a caring arm embraces the sad droop of a grey eye.

This is where the true joy lives: in interacting with Miki's work rather than in broadcasting it for a followers' frenzy of double-taps. I spent 45 delightful minutes with Matrix 273, lingering, pondering, laughing, and theorizing with strangers, and I didn't post a single photo. It felt wonderful.

'Matrix 273' runs through April 28 at BAMPFA in Berkeley. Details here. Additionally, work by Miki is on display through Feb. 23 as Masako Miki: Shapeshifters at CULT | Aimee Friberg Exhibitions in San Francisco. Details here.

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