Mercedes-Benz Art Scope 2015-2017: Wandering to Wonder

Dates : May 27 (Saturday) – August 27 (Sunday), 2017

Mercedes-Benz Japan has sponsored Mercedes-Benz Art Scope since 1991, a mécénat activity that gives contemporary artists from Japan and Germany a chance to experience a different culture. The Hara Museum of Contemporary Art has been a partner in this program since 2003, providing a venue to showcase the artistic results.
This year’s show features three artists: Japanese artist Taro Izumi who resided in Berlin in 2016, German artist Menja Stevenson who resided in Tokyo in 2015 and Japanese artist Tokihiro Sato, a past participant who spent his residence in France in 1993 and was invited this time as a guest artist. Izumi will show video works made during his stay in Berlin and video installations interlaced with strange and humorous elements based on ideas that came from his travel abroad. Stevenson will show photographs, conceptual monotypes (prints) and other works produced during her stay in Tokyo and works based on her encounters with contemporary and traditional Japan. Sato will show previous images taken of places in Tokyo together with images taken again of the same places (but with different methods) to contrast changes in his creative expression and Tokyo’s past and present.
What happens when three artists with different styles and approaches are let loose in Tokyo or Berlin with a camera in hand and a mission to create? We invite you to see the results.

Participating Artists

Taro Izumi [Video installation] Interweaving images to create strange spaces

Taro Izumi creates drawings, image installations and video. Though many of his videos feature Izumi himself performing, other performers are sometimes invited to appear as well. The actions in these works seem to represent “games” or “play” that alternate between meaning and nonsense. They are characterized by a peculiar blurring of the line that separates reality and fiction and an intermingling of elements both amusing and puzzling. In this way, they might be seen as a light that reveals the unconsciousness, customs, conventions and rules–both clear and shadowy–that lie at the bottom of society, as well as their relativistic nature. For this exhibition, Izumi will show video works shot during his stay in Berlin and a new video installation inspired by his experience of air travel.


Born in 1976 in Nara, Japan, Izumi received an MFA at Tama Art University. He has participated in numerous exhibitions in Japan and abroad, including the Yokohama Triennale (2011) and Winter Garden: The Exploration of the Micropop Imagination in Contemporary Japanese Art at the Hara Museum (2009). His solo exhibition Taro Izumi — Pan was held at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris in spring of this year. Izumi currently lives in Tokyo.

Menja Stevenson [Photography, monotype, other] Observing the “old” and “now” in a different culture

Based in Stuttgart in southern Germany, Menja Stevenson’s works range over a wide variety of mediums that include video, photography, drawing and objets. Her overarching themes might be called the acts of “discovering” and “collecting.” Using various mediums, she records the trivial things and phenomena encounted in the minutiae of everyday life, turning them into art by tweeking them and at times incorporating her own performance. For Stevenson, it was her first trip to Japan, and so she carried her camera on walks that she took around Tokyo. What she produced were images based on the daily fragments that she collected, as well as a series of slightly twisted monotypes (prints) inspired by Japanese ukiyoe prints, a representation of the idea that tradition equals “Japan” as a “foreign culture.” These richly colored and ostensibly abstract monotypes simultaneously reveal the deepness of multilayered time of which that culture is constituted.


Born in 1982 in Rottweil, Land Baden-Württemberg in Germany, Stevenson studied media art at the Stuttgart Academy of Art and Design. She works in a variety of mediums such as photography, performance and installation. She currently lives in Stuttgart.

Tokihiro Sato [Photography] Camera snippets of “myself” and “Tokyo” before and after

Tokihiro Sato is an artist who practices photography (a word that literally means “painting with light”). At first glance, his work appears to be different from that of the two artists above. The commonality lies, however, in the physical performance of the artist that occurs in front of the camera, by which he produced Photo-Respiration, his representative series of the ’80s to the ’90s. In these magical images of places in Tokyo, as well as many others in Japan and abroad, only the trajectory of light from a hand-held source or reflecting mirror is recorded. The artist himself is absent since a moving body leaves no trace on film during very long exposures. (Work from this series was presented in Art Scope in 1993). These images do not “record” reality. Unlike images perceived with the human eye, what is depicted may be thought of as “movement” or “trajectory.” In the present exhibition, images of places in Tokyo from the Photo-Respiration series taken at the beginning of the ‘90s will be displayed together with images taken again of the same places (but with different methods) to contrast the old and new in Sato’s creative expression and Tokyo’s appearance.


Born in 1957 in Yamagata, Japan, Sato received a BFA and MFA from the Tokyo University of the Arts. He has received numerous awards include the Minister of Education Award (2015) and has held solo exhibitions at such museums as the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum (2014 and The Art Institute of Chicago in the USA (2005). He has participated in group exhibitions that include Photography and Beyond in Japan held at the Hara Museum (1994), which traveled to six venues within North America), 12 years of Art Scope: Reflection on Artist in Residence (2003), and Time Present – Photography from the Deutsche Bank Collection (2015). He lives in Saitama and is currently a professor at the Tokyo University of the Arts.

About Mercedes-Benz Art Scope

This program was launched in 1991 under the name Art Scope and the Hara Museum has been a partner since 2003. Starting with the present exhibition, the program has been renamed Mercedes·Benz Art Scope.
As its main points, the program seeks to promote the development of contemporary art and the exchange of culture between Japan and Europe by providing an artist-in-residence experience of approximately 3 months in Berlin for Japanese artists and in Tokyo for German artists, and organizing and holding a group exhibition featuring the participating artists at the Hara Museum to present the results of their experience. In addition to the name change, it was decided that one past participant of the program would be invited as a guest artist. It was thought that by showcasing the recent work of past participants, a light would be shone on the trajectory of their post-residence careers, and therefore on the program’s history and evolution of more than a quarter of a century.
In recent years, artist-in-residence programs have been flourishing throughout the world as a means of enabling individual artists to create work or conduct research for that purpose for a given period of time and to deepen cultural exchange at the place of residence. In Japan, municipalities, NPOs and other bodies have been actively engaged in such activities since the 1990s.

The following is a list of previous Art Scope exhibitions held at the Hara Museum


Art Scope 2012-2014 – Remains of Their Journeys
Participating artists: Ryosuke Imamura, Satoshi Ohno, Rita Hensen, Benedikt Partenheimer


Art Scope 2009-2011: Invisible Memories
Participating artists: Meiro Koizumi, Hiroe Saeki, Eva Berendes, Jan Scharrelmann


Art Scope 2007 / 2008 – Faces of Existence*
Participating artists: Izumi Kato, Yuken Teruya, Eva Teppe, Ascan Pinckernelle


Art Scope 2005 / 2006 – Interface Complex*
Participating artists: Hiroharu Mori, Kohei Nawa, Katja Strunz, Georg Winter


Art Scope 2004: Cityscape into Art – Michiko Shoji Johannes Wohnseifer
Participating artists: Michiko Shoji, Johannes Wohnseifer

Before the Hara Museum’s partnership began, Art Scope was a program that sent only Japanese artists to Monflanquin in the south of France. The artists who participated during this period are as follows.

Satoko Masuda (1991), Ko Kashiwagi (1992), Tokihiro Sato (1993), Kenjiro Okazaki (1994), Keita Egami (1995), Seigen Kyu (1996), Asako Tokitsu (1997), Takanobu Kobayashi (1998), Yasuko Iba (1999), Tomoko Maekawa (2000), Sayaka Akiyama (2001), Nobuyuki Takahashi (2002)

To mark the start of the Hara Museum’s partnership, the twelve artists were featured in 12 Years of Art Scope: Reflection on Artist in Residence which was held in 2003.

A star (★) is used to indicate exhibitions that were also held at Daimler Contemporary, the contemporary art gallery operated by Daimler AG in Berlin.

Featured artists

Taro Izumi, Menja Stevenson, Tokihiro Sato

Organized by

Hara Museum of Contemporary Art and Mercedes-Benz Japan, Co., Ltd.

Under the auspices of

Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Japan


Arts Initiative Tokyo [AIT]

Residency program coordination

Arts Initiative Tokyo [AIT]