photo: SAIKI Taku

The Polar Bear and the Tiger Cannot Fight

ArtistJoseph KOSUTH
Material/ TechniqueWARM WHITE NEON
Size/ DurationH12 × W225 × D5cm
Year of acquisition/ donation2003
DescriptionBorn in Toledo, USA in 1945. Lives and works in New York, USA and Rome, Italy.

A conceptual ar tist whose work demonstrated various developments in the 1960s and 1970s. He rejects any attachment to form, color, and other elements that have been considered essential to the visual arts, instead viewing grasping the relationship between things as the most urgent matter in art, leading him to create artworks based on words. He often references texts by philosophers such as Ludwig WITTGENSTEIN, Friedrich NIETZSCHE and Sigmund FREUD, encouraging contemplation and awareness on the part of the viewer.

"The Polar Bear and the Tiger Cannot Fight" is a work consisting of neon tubes that spell out the words (in Japanese) of the title. The text is a quote from Sigmund Freud’s "The Psychopathology of Everyday Life". The translucent light of the neon tubes suspends the meaning of the quoted words in midair, leaving the viewer searching for their subtext. Between the original meaning in Freud’s book and the meaning produced in the viewer’s consciousness, diverse relationships proliferate.