Junko Maruyama at Künstlerhaus Bethanien / Berlin

Junko Maruyama / Alles Lebt

14 January - 6 February 2022

Künstlerhaus Bethanien

Kottbusser Straße 10

10999, Berlin


Photography by By David Brandt for Künstlerhaus Bethanien

"Manonamanamono", that's what Junko Maruyama calls her sculptures created from homemade soap, a large number of which occupy the interior of a tent, the fabric of which has also been thinly coated with soap.

"Manonamanamono" is a term of art, a word invented by the artist. It aims at something spiritually atmospheric, ephemeral, at a state that is not yet, but evolving between "raw" and "ephemeral".

You can write any Japanese word in different sign languages. The artist writes her artificial word Manonamanamono, clearly oriented towards sound and phonetic language, in Hirigana. Each Hiragana character stands for a mora, the basic unit of Japanese sound.

Junko Maruyama's life and art are characterized by universal thinking. The world, man and every creature, the weather , the environment, all materials and her own intuition determine the time and place of each work of art.

The overall installation of tent and soap objects is complemented by soap drawings on a wooden background and an animated film. The quiet murmur of the moving images, the fragility of the thin layer of soap on wooden panels and the arrangement of objects and nylon cloth to form a cave-like shelter give the impression of an interrelated spiritual cosmos. In accordance with the Japanese folk belief Tsukumogami, Maruyama invokes an animistic conception of object relations that assumes an ensoulment of things. With “Alles Lebt” (Everything is alive), an intimate space is created in which the exhibition visitor feels reminded of the value of things that seem so self-evident through the sensitivity and care Maruyama takes in handling the materials. Entering the tent construction evokes associations with the human body and the objects spread out on the floor there are reminiscent of embryos in form, materiality and colour. The uniqueness inherent in every creature and thing is just as palpable as the transience with which every existence moves towards an end. “Everything is alive” brings this ambivalences of our reality of life into consciousness.

JUNKOMARUYAMA (*1976 in Yamanashi, Japan) left Japan 1998 to study art with a focus on sculpture at CityUniversityNew York, Hunter Collage. She had previously completed her studies in International Relations at Ritsumeikan University and had come to the realisation that art as a form of mediation and communication was of strong interest to her. Since 2004 Maruyama has been living and working as a visual artist in Kanagawa (Japan).


Junko Maruyama is a grantee of Bunka-chō, Agency for Cultural Affairs, Goverment of Japan.

The artist would like to thank the restaurant Goldies, Han West, TSUTSU, Langano and Dakwahl for providing her with the used cookingoil.