Art: Junk art

This summer, Tomoko Takahashi locked herself away from the world in a sea of personal detritus. She spent a month sorting and shaping it, and now it's on display at a London gallery
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Indy Lifestyle Online
In the strip-lit bunker of the Entwistle Gallery's project space in Cork Street, London, lies the debris of Tomoko Takahashi's life. A sea of stuff - concert tickets, receipts, an ophthalmoscope, a child's punchbag, a stack of dog-eared board games, packs of playing cards, a battered hi-fi, a Velcro dartboard, a copy of The Independent's Saturday magazine, the cardboard sleeve from a Somerfield cottage pie. And fag ends. Lots of fag ends.

A white sheet hangs over the entrance to her adopted studio, bearing felt-tipped exhortations not to enter. Once inside, you have to move carefully: one wrong step and a pile of papers or electrical equipment would come crashing to the floor. She's been living here since early August. "This is my single-person place. Nobody would come usually. Down here I don't know what time it is. I don't even know the weather. But I like to feel strange and dislocated. It allows unconscious things to happen in my work. I couldn't go home each night and come back in the morning. It's a bit like going to hospital."

Takahashi was born in Tokyo in 1966. She took a BA in painting at Japan's Tama Art University before jetting to Goldsmiths College, south London, to pursue post-graduate studies. Since then, there have been solo shows in New York, Lisbon, Antwerp and Beaconsfield. Takahashi's recent installation at the Saatchi Gallery - an epic tangle of documents, Anglepoise lamps and lo-fi technological junk - was a highlight of the New Neurotic Realism show.

The image, left, is a collage of photographs taken by Takahashi during her residency in the Entwistle space. They are snapshots of a work in progress. By the time you read this she will have left, and the chaos of objects will have resolved itself into a kind of geography, shaped by Takahashi's instincts and by the boundaries of the studio. The Saatchi installation was a humming, clicking technocophagus of obsolete machinery. This time, the focus is more personal. All of these objects are Takahashi's property, and most of them comprised the contents of the north London flat she has just vacated.

So is her work a kind of memoir? "Oh no!" she exclaims. "I hope it's not that self-indulgent. Memoir is too romantic a word. But it will be the most private work I've ever done." So private, in fact, that her most personal belongings - letters, diaries and other intimate documents - will be hidden at the heart of the installation, beyond the gaze of visitor or critic.

Tomoko Takahashi is at the Entwistle Gallery until 13 November, 6 Cork Street, London W1, 0171-734 6440. Open Mon-Fri 10am-5.30pm; Sat 11am-4.30pm

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