Mika Tajima: The Architect’s Garden

September 9December 17

Vaulted Gallery

Free and Open to the Public

Curated by Aimee Chang, Manager of Public Programs at The Blanton Museum of Art

Mika Tajima
Mika Tajima with Charles Atlas, No Go, 2011
Installation view of The Pedestrians, South London Gallery
Photo by Mark Blower

The Architect’s Garden is a new site-specific exhibition by New York-based artist Mika Tajima, who will be the VAC’s fall artist-in-residence in the Vaulted Gallery. Tajima works in diverse modes in her practice, exploring the overlap between architecture, art, modernism, post-industrialism, and performance. Connecting geometric abstraction to the built environment, Tajima’s structures and painted surfaces delineate constructed social space and its possible reconfigurations.

The objects in her installations often double as unlikely objects such as signage, bulletin boards, or surrogate structures for various activities, including performances, film shoots, and lectures. Here, Tajima uses scaffolding as support forms, drawing on the transitional status of the structure as a sign for constructions in progress. Tajima’s conversations with UT and Austin communities manifest themselves as abstracted visual elements and embedded references among a selection of material from her recent collaborative projects.

In this exhibition, Tajima explores the idea of self-determined refusal, practiced by flâneurs, autonomists, and slackers alike. Using Richard Linklater’s influential film Slacker as reference, Tajima’s installation points to these drifts, hopefully unmooring us from our assumed roles, and creating a place rife with unscripted possibility.

Generous support for The Architect’s Garden comes from Stratus Properties, Suzanne Deal Booth and David G. Booth, the W Hotel, and Christine Mattsson and John McHale.


Mika Tajima received her MFA from Columbia University in 2003. Recent solo exhibition venues include the Seattle Art Museum, South London Gallery, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and The Kitchen in New York. Group exhibitions include Knight’s Move at the Sculpture Center, Long Island City; the 2008 Whitney Biennial; and One Way of Another: Asian American Art Now, a touring exhibition organized by the Asia Society, New York. Her work is presented in many catalogs and books, including Vitamin 3-D: New Perspectives in Sculpture and Installation. Tajima lives and works in New York.

Aimee Chang is Manager of Public Programs at The Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin. Prior to moving to Austin, she was Director of Academic and Residency Programs at the Hammer Museum, overseeing the museum’s collaborations with UCLA and the Artist Residency and Artist Council programs. She was previously Curator of Contemporary Art at the Orange County Museum of Art. She has written for exhibition catalogs and journals, including Flash Art and a report on the artist-led, post-Katrina, New Orleans-based project, Transforma. She has served as a juror for United States Artists, the Nimoy Foundation, LA County Metro, and the William H. Johnson Award, and she sits on the board of Clockshop and on the advisory board of LA><Art.


Filmmaker Richard Linklater and artist Mika Tajima discuss slackers, flâneurs, and the history of refusal, an element in Tajima's exhibition The Architect's Garden and in Linklater's influential 1991 film Slacker.

Filmmaker Richard Linklater and artist Mika Tajima discuss slackers, flâneurs, and the history of refusal, an element in Tajima's exhibition The Architect's Garden and in Linklater's influential 1991 film Slacker.