What is a Thomasson?
Have you ever seen … say, a telephone pole which no longer carries a line, but still stands on the sidewalk? Or maybe you’ve seen a second story doorway in the outside wall of a building that didn’t lead to a landing — or to much of anything — anymore. Ever seen a “stairway to heaven,” a staircase that goes nowhere, or awalkway that ends abruptly in midair? These are Thomassons.
In the seventies, Japanese conceptual artist and writer Akasegawa Genpei and his buddies discovered “hyperart,” unintentional art created by the city itself. Everywhere they saw urban objects and structures that had had a use in the past, but were now useless … yet someone was still maintaining them, not removing them. Akasegawa named these objects “Thomassons” after American baseball hitter Gary Thomasson, who was recruited to a Japanese team and paid a mint to look pretty, but whose bat almost never connected with the ball. Akasegawa wrote about these objects in a regular column in a Japanese photo magazine, and soon readers were submitting photos of Thomassons they had found to be evaluated. The book HYPERART: THOMASSON collected these humorous and profound columns into a manifesto of sorts …and it was a cult hit in 1980′s Japan.