小沢剛 + 遠藤一郎


Meanwhile, in a universe far far away from "Cool Japan", artists in Japan and around the world are wondering: What is the appropriate response -- and the role for art -- in the aftermath of the disasters of March 2011? A couple of weeks ago I sat in the small, but beautifully formed showroom of Ei Kibukawa's eitoeiko gallery in Kagurazaka, as Kibukawa showed me all the latest high tech online data about daily earthquakes in Tokyo and fluctuating radiation levels in the city. He has a young child and like many would have liked to have got out during this period. It was difficult to focus much on talking about what was happening in the Tokyo art world.


The same week, I also saw a talk show at Fukuoka Asian Art Museum by roving performance artist, Ichiro Endo. Enthusiastic and charismatic as ever, Endo took his van and his message "GO FOR FUTURE" to the people and places of Tokoku most devastated by the Tsunami. He also teamed up with installation artist/painter Yusuke Asai, to do some on-site performances with homeless people in Fukushima. They were fresh from a parallel social intervention into a poor village in Northern India in February organised by the social activist group Wall Art Festival, which is led by Akiko Ookuna and Kazanori Hanao. The message was inspirational: they were visibly bringing fun and a little hope to people whose lives who have been devastated by poverty or disaster. Its a small gesture, but it made perfect sense for Endo as an artist of and for people. A small good thing. He was also one of the key artists showing in a special art donation show I saw at 3331 Arts Chiyoda in Tokyo, where photos from his Tokoku trip were also displayed.


So: DO FOR JAPAN is the message. But it is a difficult one for artists, as I discussed with Satoru Aoyama over coffee in Tokyo after. Endo has been saying that everyone should make an intervention like him. Artists should all go and do something in Tohoku or Fukushima. But as Aoyama points out, a lot of art is not going to make any difference at all to the reality of these suffering people. Yes, maybe if you brought the Mona Lisa over from Paris, or something, that might make a difference to them. But not all artists can make social interventions and nor should they. They are artists, not politicians or social workers. It would also be ridiculous if everyone tried to do what Endo was doing. This was his unique way of intervening. Like a lot people, Aoyama wanted to see and smell the devastation for himself -- to get a sense of it as a human reality, but as an artist he was troubled by making fake gestures not true to his own art. His own response was the quiet and understated offering of beauty in his recent Mizuma show: a series of exquisite sewn red flowers, a one off. Nothing political, this time.


Aoyama also pinpointed the problems with some of the well meaning artist donations and auctions going on. As well as being scattered and rather disorganised in Tokyo, Art was basically being used as little more than a collection box for charity. Just one more way to get rich people to hand over some money. The "excuse" is they are collectors, and that the artists feel they need to do something. But as a way of "collecting" and "valuing" art is neither good for the collectors or the artists. The money should be given anyway. It doesn't help answer the terribly difficult question of what Art can do in the face of social disaster or political impotence. I suggest to him that perhaps the meaning of these actions is something else: not so much in the money collected, but in the fragile of sense of community it has given disperate artists in Berlin or New York, when they "came together" to do something one day. Everybody feels helpless and lonely in the face of such disasters.

On this score, the next big charity/NGO event coming up in New York is on July 21st: "Voices from the Ground":

Please forward this information.


Which brings me to Tsuyoshi Ozawa. Although he is one of the other key figures from the early 90s in Japan -- indeed, with Makoto Aida and Yukinori Yanagi, a contender for the honour of being the most important Young Japanese Artist of that decade -- I have found it difficult to write about his work. It just needed the right time. What is obvious now, is how much his gentle, humanistic, socially oriented, communicative art work is the kind of art that finds its true place and role after March 2011. Also a few weeks ago, I was describing my meeting with Ozawa and his "Fukushima" performance at the Showa 40 Nen Kai opening to Ayumi Minemura in Berlin. Minemura, who works in Berlin under the artist name "Are You Meaning Company", is, like Ozawa, a relational artist, someone who uses art to find new modes of communication across cultures and between people. She put it very simply: "Yes, this is Ozawa's moment".

For the Showa 40 Nen Kai show in Düsseldorf, he had first of all commissioned a new version of the Nasubi gallery. It was an empty boxed, lacquered in immaculate, traditional style by a famous artisan from the region. The box sat in a line of other Nasubi exhibitions that told their own story of Japan since the bubble. A painting of a Sarin bottle. A photo of a Nasubi hung on a collapsed building in Kobe. A Nasubi with an Otaku figurine inside (reduced to 3 inches rather than blown up to 3 metres). Now, there was an empty lacquered Nasubi.

Ozawa is a shy person, not given naturally to grand gestures. His long running "series" such as Jizoing have been ways of giving a more structured meaning to his social interventions. He has been wondering ever since the beginning: What is the point of Art? Who is it for? How can we create new spaces for art in a society where is no space or time? A milk box hanging on a street wall is one way. A couple of days out of time with local residents shopping and cooking together is another.

On the evening of the opening, Ozawa gave a talk and slideshow. It was a kind of poem or children's story, read out quietly (in Japanese, with German translation) to a packed and attentive room of Germans and resident Japanese. No-one expected, wanted or needed images by Akihabara otaku or "Neo-Tokyo" viewed from Roppongi Hills. There was a need for something a little more real tonight.

He talked about an artist who lived in a big city. It was about 200 km away from a terrible fire that was burning. The artist sat at home wondering what he could do. He always wanted to help people with his art, but it was not easy. What could you do with art that could make any difference? This time, he was like everyone else in the big city. They sat there watching the terrible news on the internet and TV.

One day, about 1000 people -- lots and lots of children -- arrived in his hometown. They stayed at the local school, camping rough. He visited them, to see if he could help. They were trying to improvise the graduation ceremonies they had missed at the school that had been closed down. He talked to one child who was sad about his rabbit, which he had lost in the earthquake. He proposed to have a workshop making kites with the children. They tried to have some fun. After the workshop, the kids played with the kites, they were happy and smiling again, for a little while. He was happy to see it.

The artist thought he should visit where these people came from. He and his friends travelled to this place. They had to take a bus, there were no trains working. In the city there was just a few people. The atmosphere was fear. They had to wear masks, and be careful everywhere. The smell was bad. It was Spring. Even here there were flowers blooming, cherry blossom. He took some photographs.

The artist talked with his friends. He had an idea. There was an art work he sometimes made. He sometimes made weapons -- guns and bazookas -- made of vegetables. He would travel to different places, in different countries, and meet some locals. They would go shopping for local vegetables. He would make a gun out of the vegetables, then take military style photos of girls holding the guns. Then everybody would get together and cook the vegetables in a big party, according to a local recipe. The art work was the whole event. The relation between the people. The small new space in time it made. After, he had a cook book made.


They went back to the city. The people living there had to leave their houses and live in public refuges. This place, not far away, was famous for its vegetables. But because of the fire, the people growing the vegetables could no longer sell them. They got together with some of the locals living rough, mostly young people. They bought some of the vegetables they shouldn't buy from the farmers. Some of the farmers were desperate: there had been suicides because they had lost their livelihood. Some of the locals were angry: they didn't understand or appreciate what the artist was doing. Others were happy: it was an important event. The art was relational, and it was conflictual. An intervention.

They made two guns, and two sets of photos. They were sitting eating under the cherry blossom. One of the guns they could eat, one of them they couldnt. They cooked everything in a stew, and also made tempura.

It was an art event. He was a famous artist. But he didn't have any plans for an exhibition of these photos. He needed time to think about it. It was a very delicate projet. It was a fun dinner, though.

Many of the people in the city are still homeless. It ia a very sad situation.

That was the end of the story. The artist ended what he had to say quietly. Nobody knows if, after all this, the country will get well again or not. Nobody knows.

Tsuyoshi Ozawa's facebook:





小沢剛 遠藤一郎
投稿元 : ブルガリ時計 / 2013年07月01日16:06





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