MEM (Multiply Encoded Messages) was founded by Katsuya Ishida in 1997 as a private gallery in Shitennoji, Osaka and moved to Esaka in the same year. In 2003, MEM opened to the public as a contemporary art gallery in Kitahama, Osaka. The gallery was located on the fourth floor of the Arai Building, a registered tangible cultural property built in 1922. It hosted a series of three solo shows commemorating its opening, featuring three artists: Barco negro na mesa which introduced the early work of Yasumasa Morimura; Tomoaki Ishihara’s SCOTOMA which featured his sculpture of an evacuated sphere; and HIMALAYA which exhibited Chie Matsui’s video installation shot in the Arai Building.

MEM’s early exhibitions highlighted the works of well-established Kansai-region artists like Yoshio Kitayama, Kimiyo Mishima, Yasue Kodama and newcomers like Noriko Yamaguchi and Maki Toshima. In 2010, MEM once again changed its home to the art complex NADiff A/P/A/R/T in Ebisu, Tokyo, where it continues to operate today. Upon relocation the gallery added emerging artists such as Ayano Sudo and Natsuko Tanihara. In addition the gallery has enriched its programs focused on photography and introduced works by Ken Kitano, Katsumi Omori, Keizo Motoda, Charles Fréger, Antoine d’Agata, and other artists who represent contemporary photographic art in Japan and overseas. Notably, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Shigeo Gocho’s passing, the gallery organized a two-session exhibition to reexamine the iconic photographer from the konpora photographic movement of the 1970’s.

In the mid-1990s, the gallery was fortunate to come across avant-garde pieces by the pre-World War II photographer, Osamu Shiihara. Prompted by this discovery, the gallery started investigating and exhibiting works by the Tampei Photography Club, to which Shiihara belonged, other photography groups and individual photographers who were involved in the avant-garde photography movement before and after the war. Some noteworthy projects include: curation of the portfolio and exhibition featuring modern prints based on glass negatives originally by Iwata Nakayama, founder of the Ashiya Camera Club in 1930; an exhibition highlighting the activities of the Naniwa Photography Club in the early post-war period; an exhibition to reintroduce photography by Shigeru Onishi who gained recognition in Europe for his abstract ink paintings after they were featured in exhibitions curated by Michel Tapié through the 1960’s and 1970’s; and an exhibition introducing the Kyoto-based avant-garde photography group, K.P.S. (Kyoto Photographers Society).

MEM is the intersection between artists and the public. An collaborative arena where experimental projects and new works are born, exhibited and encoded messages are multiplied to enkindle new ideas.
MEM aims to re-trace the footprints of historically important artists from conception through development, considering their historical and social contexts, to understand their place and significance in the history of art and photography.
MEM endeavors to promote their artist’s work focusing on museums and private and public institutions.

MEM actively participates in domestic and international art fairs, including Paris Photo, The Photography Show presented by AIPAD, and Art Basel in Hong Kong. Currently, MEM is a member of Association for the Promotion of Contemporary Art in Japan (APCA), AIPAD, the Fine-Art Photography Association (FAPA), and the Contemporary Art Dealers Association Nippon (CADAN).

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