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チェックと日本の現代美術界についての感想

Art Trip Japan (2) Aichi

2010年11月15日


(...continued...)

I only had a day in Nagoya for the Aichi Triennial, which was tough but do-able. Director Akira Tatehata told me that he had been reluctant to take on the leadership of this triennial when he was asked, but his vision for the events was visible throughout the city. This was a uniformly high quality event, with outstanding works from known artists in the conventional exhibitions spaces, and a lot of very interesting urban installation art in abandoned buildings in the old neighbourhood of Choja Machi.

Nagoya is a very modern looking city. It must be how the Americans imagined it looking one day when they flattened it in 1945: a large scale, shiny grid of confident business buildings. But Choja Machi is different, a gritty working business neighbourhood based on textiles and wholesale clothing, that has basically been wiped out by Chinese and South East Asian competition. This rough part of Nagoya felt a little bit like the Northern Quarter in Manchester – a flattering comparison, since the Northern Quarter has long driven the fashion, music and bar scene in England’s famous northern city.

For me, the tone of the day was set already by the three excellent video installations I saw upon opening at 11am at the Nayabashi site. First up were Mai+Naoto “row row rowing their boats gently down the stream” – a dinghy on the Nile and Amazon rivers! I’ve written about this very sweet and funny art unit before.

http://www.art-it.asia/u/rhqiun/9SIZ0pl7sG8U12CodyMi/

Then, there was a gripping and harrowing urban mental breakdown filmed on a commuter train and street by Meiro Koizumi. His work can only get better if he now switches to commenting on the tensions of Japanese everyday life as this video does so well. In a third room, then, there was another rising name, I’d not connected so well with before: Takehito Koganezawa. In a large dark room, on four walls, there was a mesmerising ballet of moving black paint on four glass windows, set against minimalist drums and electronic music.

One disappointment with Aichi was the fact that several of the big names were either limited to sporadic performances, or were only on show for a few days. A visitor can only be there for a day or two. Quite annoying not to be able to see the work advertised by Tadasu Takamine, Tatzu Nishi, or Yang Fudong.

The Nagoya Museum was underwhelming, save for a superb new work by Chiharu Shiota, and very charming room by Shimabuku about the time he spent with the fishermen on a local island near Nagoya. After spending a long time visiting the houses and abandonned office buildings in Choja Machi, I finished the day at the Aichi Arts Centre, marvelling at Yayoi Kusama's rooftop waterworld, queuing patiently to see Aiko Miyanaga's fragile salt and naphthalene sculptures (apparently something had got stolen), and watching the Xijing Men's latest puppet show on the future of East-West relations.

Here are some images from Aichi:


Shimabuku poster


Choja machi


Installation by Tochka




Installation views by Yusuke Asai


Yayoi Kusama


Xijing men puppet show

I rounded the day off taking a coffee with Tetsuya Ozaki, who was there to see a dance performance that evening. We talked about the “Art Trip” phenomenon. That tireless “cheerleader” of Japanese art, Yumi Yamaguchi, has even written another book about it, apparently. Yay! Go Yumi! It all seemed very gendered to me: so many groups of “best friend” office ladies or students, young and old, who have left their husbands and boyfriends at home. There they are, clutching their festival guides and checking off the works, one by one, while spending most of the time looking for the one little local kissaten recommended in their guides that does fancy little French pastries.

So what is the deeper meaning of the art trip phenomenon, seen in Nagoya and at Setouchi this summer? Art in Japan is responding to the condition Japan finds itself in – turning inward, thinking about its future, worrying about what is next, wondering whatever happened to it, after the gold rush. I was practically the only white foreigner visiting Aichi the day I visited, and on Setouchi, there were just a handful of über-rich Naoshima bound western art tourists, getting confused by the boats and buses. The rest of the world is not looking, and when they try to, they just don’t understand the guide books. Good job: there wouldn’t be room for them in Shinro Ohtake’s spectacular multicoloured I LOVE YU sento in Miyanoura on Naoshima. For a few moments, miraculously, I even had the baths to myself. After getting out, hot and washed, I spent ages queuing in the now busy line at the ticket machine so I could stock up on all my omiagi.

ADRIAN FAVELL
http://www.adrianfavell.com

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