Tentacle Trance: Slithering Sensuality in Illustration Influenced by Anime, Manga, and Gaming

September 28–October 14, 2012
Concourse Gallery

Curated by Frenchy Lunning
In conjunction with the SGMS fashion show on Saturday, September 29 at 7:30 p.m. and conference September 28–30.

Minneapolis, MN—The Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) is pleased to present the exhibition Tentacle Trance in its second floor Concourse Gallery. The show, curated by Professor Frenchy Lunning, opens Friday, September 28 in conjunction with the conference SGMS: Mechademia International Conference on Asian Popular Cultures, held September 28–30 at MCAD. The exhibition closes Sunday, October 14.

Octopi and their tentacles have been a rather subversive accompaniment to the arts of Japanese anime and manga since their early days. Among the most famous of the early instances is an illustration from the novel Kinoe no komatsu of 1814 by Hokusai Katsushika called The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife, an example of shunga-e (Japanese erotic art). Although Western audiences have often interpreted Hokusai’s famous design as rape, Japanese audiences of the Edo period would have associated it with a depiction of the legend of the female abalone diver Tamatori. In the story, Tamatori steals a jewel from the Dragon King. But as she escapes, the Dragon King and his sea-creature army of octopi catch her and have mutual consenting sex.

“Tentacle sex,” as it is now called, refers to this legendary and humorous sexual challenge. It is found in horror and hentai titles of both manga and anime, and is heavily parodied in AMV (anime music videos), dojinshi (independent manga), and other fan-based mediums. Yet, compellingly, it is also found in abundance as a part of many illustrator’s portfolios. It is sometimes represented as a sexual act, but many times it is found on top of the head, as a chair or pillow to lounge against, as an anthropomorphic companion, a maid or manservant, a character in a narrative, a grotesque, a mere shape that envelopes the subject, or even a robot. This exhibition seeks to examine and question this panoply of representations as a result of the “tentacle trance” that seems to have hypnotized popular culture, and to wonder at its humorous sensuality and prolific articulation.

Featured illustrators include: Christopher Conn Askew, Serge Birault, Rubens Cantuni, Igor Carteret, Camilla d'Errico, Rudy Fig, Tomer Hanuka, Natalie Shau, and Vladimir Tomin.

Recognized nationally and internationally for its innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to visual arts education, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design is home to more than 700 students and offers professional certificates, bachelor of fine arts and bachelor of science degrees, and graduate degrees.

MCAD Gallery Hours
Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, Noon to 5:00 p.m.

For more information please contact Kerry Morgan, director of gallery and exhibition programs, 612.874.3667 or gallery@mcad.edu.