Japanese Experience-Art Sensation teamLab Cancels Its Brooklyn Debut to Rethink Its Strategy for Cracking the US Market

The digital art collective is pausing work on its Brooklyn museum, but is forging ahead with a project in Shanghai.

teamLab,​ Drawing on the Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and People -Infinity​ (2016-2018). Interactive Digital Installation, Endless. Sound: Hideaki Takahashi ©teamLab.
teamLab,​ Drawing on the Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and People -Infinity​ (2016-2018). Interactive Digital Installation, Endless. Sound: Hideaki Takahashi ©teamLab.

New Yorkers, brace yourselves for disappointment. teamLab’s immersive light experience is no longer headed to the Big Apple this month.

The insanely popular digital art collective was due to launch a huge permanent exhibition in Brooklyn’s Industry City in August, but it has halted work on the project in order to reconsider its US game plan, artnet News has learned.

“With regards to teamLab coming to New York, we have paused work toward a permanent exhibition while we rethink our strategy for entering the American market,” a spokeswoman for teamLab tells artnet News.

The Japan-based team of computer programmers, animators, engineers, designers, mathematicians, and architects, are known for their mind-bending light installations. The interdisciplinary collective, which was founded in 2001, already has two incredibly popular spaces in Tokyo. Its permanent space, teamLab Borderless, drew 2.3 million visitors in its inaugural year, which is greater than the attendance of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

A version of teamLab Planets, a temporary exhibition in the Japanese capital that attracted 1.2 million visitors last year, was due to open in Brooklyn this summer. The collective excited its New York fans when it signed an 11-year lease on a 55,000-square-foot warehouse at Sunset Park last year. It is unclear what will happen in the space now. “We continue to work with Industry City to determine how we can make them a part of the updated strategy,” teamLab’s spokeswoman says.

teamLab’s chief creative officer Takumi Nomoto explained last year that they had selected New York for the permanent space as it was best located for “more people to come and see our digital museum.” While work on the New York venture has been paused for now, the collective has announced an exhibition on the West Coast. It will show at the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, which is now due to open in 2020 after several delays set back the museum’s inauguration.

teamLab is represented by Pace, which most recently closed an exhibition of the collective’s light installations at its Palo Alto space in January. An earlier exhibition organized by the gallery in 2016 at a former car dealership in Menlo Park drew 200,000 visitors over the course of its 10-month run.

In the meantime, teamLab is preparing to open a version of Borderless in Shanghai’s Huangpu District this fall, which will include new works.


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