Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Visual Arts 2019

Mika Tajima

Portrait of Mika Tajima slightly side ways to the viewer with a messy top knot, black eyeliner, vibrant red lipstick and a black tank top.
  • 2019 Grants to Artists
  • Visual Arts
  • Artist
  • Born 1975, Los Angeles, CA
  • Lives in New York, NY
  • Additional Information
  • This award is supported by the FCA Friends.

With the help of the FCA Grant, I was able to continue working with various programmers and electrical engineers to create the technologies that underlie my new installation and sculptural works. At the time I was awarded the FCA grant, I had been working on two new projects for the Okayama Art Summit (in Japan).The installations were extremely complicated and as I began realizing the works in their physical forms, I was met with so many unforeseen technical challenges that necessitated much experimentation and invention.The FCA grant allowed for this vital experimentation and possibility to work with specialists as each challenge arose—I used the funds to pay the specialists, for materials related to the experimentation (i.e. new solvent resistant plastics, high tech electromagnets, ferrofluid, etc.), and fabrication of specialized equipment. Without this generous funding, I would either be in more debt or would not have been able to realize the works to their fullest capacity. Having been able to complete these works has raised the stakes for me conceptually, bringing me to a new level in my work.

- Mika Tajima, December 5, 2019

Artist Statement

The core of my artwork is about performance, control, and freedom. My early installations and collaborative work explored how the built environment shapes human activities and bodies. In each of these projects the performing subject (e.g. speaker, dancer, designer, factory worker, musician, filmmaker) confronts determined situations and seeks new possibilities through modes of non-performance and autonomy. Recent exhibitions focus on the bodily and psychic experience of power―being a subject of contactless force from within and beyond. This includes contemporary technologies that produce a body conditioned to react and a psyche turned against itself. In my practice, transmediating between the invisible and the material becomes a way to understand the agency of being uncontainable, unreachable, unscrapable, and not yet knowable.

- December 2018


Mika Tajima is an artist whose practice materializes techniques developed to shape the physicality, productivity, and desires of the human body. Her sculptures, paintings, videos, and installations focus on the embodied experience of ortho-architectonic control and computational life. From architectural systems to ergonomic design to psychographic data, Tajima's works operate in the space between the immaterial and the tangible to create heightened encounters that target the senses and emotions of the viewer, underlining the dynamics of control and agency.

The abstract jacquard woven textile portraits that comprise Tajima's Negative Entropy series (2012-ongoing) focus on the historical and material texture of industrial technology. Featured in Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art1965–2018 at the Whitney Museum of American Art (2018-19), the work demonstrated the intertwining histories of textile and digital production through transmediated images of data center sites.

Referencing communal rejuvenation spas, Meridian (Gold) (2016), commissioned by SculptureCenter, created a framed seating zone that emitted illuminated plumes of vapor that responded in real time to the global sentiment for gold, a proxy for geopolitical and economic mood. Human Synth (2015) used predictive analytics and sentiment analysis as underlying technologies to produce evolving images of human emotional states, and has been featured in exhibitions at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France; the Eleventh Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, Korea; and Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul, Turkey. As a product of extractive and predictive algorithms, the video and light installations are projections of a contingent future. Tajima's early installations and collaborative work explored performance in relation to the built environment, stemming from an interest in how the performing subject negotiates spaces and objects that outline bodily action. Using recording studios, film sets, industrial factories, data centers, and office work environments as production sites, these projects included collaborations with Vito Acconci and Charles Atlas.

A black with white marbled ball size sculpture with various indentations and smooth peaks on the surface holds in its middle a silver and black jacuzzi valve.

Pranayama, (Marble, 2), 2018, CNC marble, jacuzzi jet, 8” x 10.5” x 6.25.”

A gallery room with naked bulbs hanging from the ceiling almost down to the floor through black wires. On the two walls behind them rectangular canvases. On the left wall a canvas sits by itself in black, pink and blue colors while on the right wall three canvases sit aligned each with different width lines. The first canvas to the left in colors of pink and blue, the one in the middle in colors of green, yellow and magenta and the third hues of red magenta.

Installation view of All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace, at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France, 2017.

Photograph of a white gallery room with an elongated black sack material on the floor beginning from the left side of the image and ending to the other behind a column. Behind it in the nearby distance two projectors are set up on side by side screens showcasing a dark background with steam in colors of purple, aquamarine and green.

Installation view of Human Synth (Istanbul), in the exhibition Ætherat Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul, Turkey, 2018, custom sentiment analysis program, Unreal Engine gaming engine, Alienware VR PC, Twitter API, screen, leather straps, dungeon stainless rings, projection.

A red box with opening in the middle extracting steam lighted in pink sits on the waterline with high skyscrapers on the other side.

Installation view of Meridian (Gold), at Hunter's Point South Park, Long Island City, 2016, pressurized water vapor system, networked LED bulbs, real-time gold commodity indexes, custom analysis program, wood, pigment, sculpted resin. Commissioned by SculptureCenter. Photo by Yasunori Matsui.

A painting with a yellow background with streaks of straight blue lines coming from the bottom.

Negative Entropy (TAE Vacuum Pump, Full Width, Hex), 2018, cotton, polyester, rayon, wood, wool acoustic baffling felt, 53.5” x 110.”