Mihoko Ogkai’s ongoing series Milky Ways explores the ideas of life, death and rebirth. The dead or dying human life forms are constructed with fibre-reinforced plastic and embedded LED lights that project star-like fields of light on the surrounding gallery walls. Tiny holes dot the figures; the light emitted transforms these tortured, decaying bodies into incredible portraits of the night sky.
There is a zen-like calm within the work even as it discusses the heavy themes of birth and death. Ogaki’s work reminded me of a video was recently passed on to me that features Neil deGrasse Tyson and his outlook on the biology, life and the universe:
The most astounding fact is the knowledge that the atoms that comprise life on Earth the atoms that make up the human body are traceable to the crucibles that cooked light elements into heavy elements in their core under extreme temperatures and pressures… So that when I look up at the night sky and I know that yes, we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the Universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up – many people feel small because they’re small and the Universe is big – but I feel big, because my atoms came from those stars.
I am a city girl, but when I am lucky enough to find myself removed from the bustling city lights and underneath a blanket of night stars, I find myself overwhelmed. It can be crippling to think of the great immense of space above you and your place in the grand scheme of life in this universe. It is here that I find Mihoko Ogaki’s work so elegantly powerful.
The human forms of Milky Ways are withering, sometimes crumpling. Their forms are dignified in death. And they, like ourselves, are part of something much grander.