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The Mechanism of Meaning: Arakawa and Madeline Gins
Shall we go just a little farther away?

The Mechanism of Meaning: Arakawa and Madeline Gins  — Shall we go just a little farther away?

Venue: Sezon Museum of Modern Art, Karuizawa, Nagano, Japan
Period: April 22 – October 9, 2023
Opening hours: 10:00am-6:00pm(Admission until 30 minutes before closing)
Holiday: Thursdays(except May 4 / Open every days in August)

For more information, visit:

Shusaku Arakawa was born in Nagoya in 1936. After some time in Tokyo, in 1961 he chose to abandon his artistic activity there to move “just a little farther away” to New York where he based himself at Yoko Ono’s studio. In his interactions with numerous artists there, including Marcel Duchamp, Arakawa met the poet Madeline Gins (1941-2014) who would become his lifetime partner. The two delved deeply into the concept of “meaning,” noting that while people feel/think, it is generally in terms of meaning conveyed through words. This exploration evolved over 25 years into The Mechanism of Meaning, a project encompassing 127 items including 81 large-scale paintings, 44 drawings, one photograph, and one architectural model.

These works are, in effect, a major lifework series, brought together in one place for this exhibit. We invite you to go “just a little farther away” to a place that transcends the conventional viewing experience.

(quoted from Official Website)

Recent Exhibitions

[Move Semantics]: Rules of Unfolding

We are happy to announce the participation of Arakawa + Gins / Reversible Destiny Foundation in the exhibition [Move Semantics]: Rules of Unfolding at the EFA Project Space, a program of the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts. This project is facilitated by Elæ Moss and Jeff Kasper and will be on view from March 27 – May 1, 2021 by appointment. The virtual opening and walkthrough of the exhibition is on Wednesday, March 31 @ 7:30 PM EST. Please register from the link below (yellow highlighted) and also see further information about this show and about many related virtual programs.

March 27-May 1, 2021

Wednesday – Saturday 12 pm – 6:00 pm by appointment.


[MS]:RU asks: “what are the BRIGHT FUTURES for the intersectional body?” Furthermore, how must our practices, our institutions, our networks, our spaces, and our infrastructures radically change in order to survive, live together, communicate, and plant (or provide) the seeds to ensure a future beyond the Capitalocene?

On Wednesday, April 21 @ 7:30 PM EST, RDF’s Projects Manager ST Luk will participate in conversation with architect Martin Byrne – “Re/orientation Roundtables Week 4: Sites Chat: Working in and through the built environment, in and beyond the Capitalocene.” ST Luk has worked closely with Madeline Gins during her last project Biotopological Scale-Juggling Escalator (2013) at the Dover Street Market in NYC. Please join and learn about Arakawa + Gins’s philosophy of architectural body and reversible destiny and how it continues to influence and inspire today’s artists, architects, designers, and many creators from across the fields.

front page Recent Exhibitions

Multiples, Inc.: 1965–1992

Arakawa, Landscape (mistake), 1970

Arakawa’s prints from the late 1960s to the 1970s and published by Multiples, Inc. are now on view at this historical exhibition Multiples, Inc.: 1965–1992 curated by Dieter Schwarz at Marian Goodman Gallery in New York. Founded in 1965 in New York by Marian Goodman, Multiples, Inc. published seminal editions with some of the most important artists of the 20th century over a period of almost three decades between 1966 and 1992. The exhibition gathers for the first time a selection of over 150 editions published by Multiples, Inc. in collaboration with over 70 artists.


Multiples, Inc.: 1965–1992

Marian Goodman Gallery, New York

Jan 12 – Feb 27, 2021


For more information, visit for the press release, the list of works, and to explore their online viewing room.

front page Recent Exhibitions

How to Survive

Arakawa + Gins in group exhibition How to Survive, at the Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany.

Gustav Metzger – Shusaku Arakawa/Madeline Gins – Alina Szapocznikow – Tracey Emin – Valérie Favre – Jean-Pascal Flavien – Elizabeth Jäger – Mike Kelley – An-My Lê – Beatrice Olmedo

On view November 14, 2020 through February 28, 2021.

“Expulsions, disasters and injuries are ruptures in human lives that prompt survivors to question the meaning and nature of survival. Managing to come to terms with this issue is like a creative act, a self-empowerment. The exhibition project will evoke this power of art by presenting three central figures whose work will be shown in depth in combination with individual works by other artists.

Gustav Metzger (1926 – 2017), Shusaku Arakawa (1936 – 2010)/Madeline Gins (1941 – 2014) and Alina Szapocznikow (1926 – 1973) represent three central positions that formulate survival strategies in their artistic work and address existential issues that are particularly urgent today.”

– Carina Plath, curator

Recent Exhibitions

life and limbs

Opening Reception: September 24, 6-8PM

Location: 38 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003


life and limbs is the fourth exhibition in Swiss Institute’s Architecture and Design Series, curated by Austrian artist Anna-Sophie Berger. Considering corporeality as a primary concern for design, Berger here assembles a group of works that register the body as a habitat that can be imaginatively stretched, altered, modified, adorned, replicated or destroyed. Including works from a variety of disciplines, movements and periods,

The exhibition includes works by Arakawa and Madeline Gins, among other practitioners from a variety of disciplines, movements and periods.

Each work in the exhibition troubles the limits of what a body can consume, process, reach and become, from the metamorphosis that comes from wearing a garment to complete transfigurations into surreal, new beings.


For more information please visit:

Recent Exhibitions

Diagrams for the Imagination

Arakawa, That in Which No.2, 1974-75. Acrylic, graphite, and marker on canvas, 65 x 102 inches

Gagosian Gallery will present Diagrams for the Imagination, an exhibition of works by Arakawa, made between 1965 and 1984.

The exhibition will be on view from March 5 – April 13, 2019

Opening reception: Tuesday, March 5, 6–8pm

Gagosian Gallery
980 Madison Avenue
New York, ny 10075

Tel. +1 212 744 2313
Hours: Monday–Saturday 10–6


What I want to paint is the condition that precedes the moment in which the imagination goes to work and produces mental representations. —Arakawa 

Born in Japan in 1936, Arakawa was one of the founding members of the Japanese avant-garde collective Neo Dadaism Organizers, describing himself as an “eternal outsider” and an “abstractionist of the distant future.” In 1961, he moved from Tokyo to New York. By the mid-1960s, his work had taken a pivotal turn with the “diagram paintings,” which combine words with highly schematic images suggestive of blueprints. He began exhibiting at Dwan Gallery in Los Angeles and New York, and was included in the now legendary 1967 exhibition Language to be looked at and/ or things to be read. Over the decades that followed, Arakawa explored the workings of human consciousness, diagrammatic representation, and epistemology.

This exhibition examines the period during which Arakawa worked in two dimensions, using paint, ink, graphite, and assemblage on canvas and paper to demonstrate what critic Lawrence Alloway called “the logic of meaning, the texture of meaning.” From the mid-1960s onward, Arakawa began to augment the simple topography of his diagrams with additional referents, sometimes engaging other sensory faculty or using prompts and instructions to make the viewing of painting into an active endeavor. In A Couple No. 2 (1966­–67), the bird’s-eye view of a bedroom is mapped out: bed, table, pillow, head, foot, lamp. The image shows only the places where the corresponding physical elements would be, had “a couple” been literally depicted. In this way, the painting becomes a catalyst for the viewer to independently construct an image of a couple in the mind’s eye, rather than receive its depiction directly from the painting.

Blank Lines or Topological Bathing (1980–81) comprises four canvases: a color chart; a vision test chart; and two patterned, off-white canvases, one of which is stenciled with the words “THE PERCEIVING OF ONESELF AS BLANK.” Signs and diagrammatic shapes such as cylinders, arrows, and concentric circles mingle with words and phrases, abstract and semiological signals coming together on the canvas. Arakawa constructed these systems of words and signs to both highlight and investigate the mechanics of human perception and knowledge. Working often with Madeline Gins, his wife and collaborator, Arakawa turned his attention primarily to architecture after 1990, and, in 2010, he and Gins founded the Reversible Destiny Foundation. In his work, the image is often merely a stimulus, as the ultimate act of representation is displaced from the canvas, or object, to the imagination of the viewer, opening up a gap between the eye and the mind. As Arakawa has stated, “Understanding is usually beside the point.”

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, with an essay by Charles W. Haxthausen.


For more information please visit:

Recent Exhibitions

Impossible Architecture

The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, Japan will present the exhibition, Impossible Architecture, in collaboration with three other museums; Niigata City Art Museum, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, and the National Museum of Art, Osaka. The exhibition will travel through these four public museums in Japan from February 2019 until March 2020, and will be featuring several artworks by Arakawa and Madeline Gins, including a large-scale model of The Process in Question/Bridge of Reversible Destiny, also known as the “Epinal Project”.

This exhibition featuring an array of international unbuilt architectural designs of the 20th century and onward, has the working title “Impossible Architecture.” The word “impossible” in this context does not mean “impossible” simply because of any radical or unreasonable demands of the architectural design, but refers to the restrictive boundaries of each project’s social time and place, and encourages us to revisit and re-examine the possibilities lying at these architectural frontiers. By placing the focus on the impossibility of this architecture, paradoxically their extreme possibilities and rich potentials come to the fore, abundantly fulfilling the very aim of this exhibition.

Through a diverse mix of plans, models, and other related materials, the “Impossible Architecture” exhibition closely analyzes the extraordinarily imaginative projects of some 40 architects and artists, and casts the spotlight on new forms of architecture that have never been seen before.


Venues, Dates and Locations:

Museum of Modern Art, Saitama
Dates: February 2 – March 24, 2019

9-30-1, Tokiwa, Urawa-ku, Saitama-shi, (in Kita-Urawa Park), Japan
Tel: 048-824-0111


Niigata City Art Museum
Dates: April 13 – July 15, 2019

〒951-8556 Niigata, Chuo Ward, Nishiohatacho, 5191−9, Japan
Tel: +81-25-223-1622


Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art
Dates: September 18 – December 8, 2019

1-1 Hijiyamakoen, Minami Ward, Hiroshima, 732-0815, Japan
Tel: +81-82-264-1121


The National Museum of Art, Osaka
Dates: January 7 – March 15, 2020

Location: 4-2-55 Nakanoshima, Kita-ku, Osaka, 530-0005, Japan
Tel: +81-6-6447-4680


This exhibition is organized by The Museum of Modern Art, Satama, Niigata City Art Museum, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, The Ntaional Museum of Art, Osaka, The Yomiuri Shimbun and the Japan Association of Art Museums.


Los Angeles to New York: Dwan Gallery, 1959–1971

The first major exhibition to explore the storied history of the groundbreaking mid-20th-century Dwan Gallery will premiere at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, from September 30, 2016, through January 29, 2017. Honoring Virginia Dwan’s gift from her extraordinary personal collection to the National Gallery of Art, Los Angeles to New York: Dwan Gallery, 1959–1971 will be on view in Concourse galleries of the newly renovated East Building. The exhibition traces Dwan’s remarkable career as a gallerist and patron through some 100 works drawn from her collection as well as from museums and private collections. The exhibition includes Arakawa’s Untitled, “Stolen”, 1969, collection of Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford.

Los Angeles to New York: Dwan Gallery, 1959–1971 was organized by the National Gallery of Art. The exhibition travels to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where it will be on view from March 19 through September 10, 2017.