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チェックと日本の現代美術界についての感想

Koganecho Bazaar

2009年10月8日


As a footnote to my recent talk at DIJ in Tokyo about Tokyo as a creative city (see my blog of 2009-09-07), we will have to see what difference Tokyo’s ultimate failure in its Olympic bid on October 2nd will make to Governor Ishihara’s commitment to art in the city that was a prominent feature of the bid. As others have suggested, it may mean the beginning of the end for the Governor, and hence pet projects such as the Tokyo Wonder Site, which however controversial it has been, has certainly provided many new outlets for emerging artists and art students.

Tokyo in many ways has been a long way behind the city of Yokohama in the linkage of art, creativity and urban development. The commitment to these themes was a central part of former mayor Hiroshi Nakada’s vision for the city, and while the most spectacular aspects of the policy concerned big money spinning events like the Triennial or the transformation of the waterfront, there was also appreciable investment in poor neighbourhoods such as Koganecho and Kotobukicho in Yokohama, which often used art as a tool for redevelopment and social work. I was down in these parts of Yokohama recently to meet with curator Fumihiko Sumitomo, and by chance wandered into the offices of the Koganecho Bazaar that has just closed up shop after several lively weeks of events, shows and performances in and around the former (or more accurately) still-in-transition red light zone under the rail tracks.

http://www.koganecho.net/

Again, what is interesting is the conscious linkage of art in an urban Japanese context with the public response to economic decline and decay, here visible in parts of Yokohama in some of the most obvious post-industrial forms. A slum area gets turned over to unemployed young artists, former prostitutes' nomiya become studios, and a café selling lattes and cake opens where once was a busy police koban. It is idealistic, a little naïve maybe – for sure economies need a lot more than happily creative young folks making art to get a turn around in fortunes. But it indicates again why art is such an interesting social and economic phenomenon in Japan today – why there is so much more than just the art market or art theory to consider in evaluating its relevance to the world.

There is still a long way to go in the creative city. The streets around the studios and exhibition spaces were quiet, but just up the road in Miyagawacho, the pachinko parlours were completely packed and rocking hard with the deafening noise of desperation. And the word is that new mayor Fumiko Hayashi, an old style business oriented politician, may not be so interested in the creative themes and ideas that were Nakada’s calling card.

ADRIAN FAVELL
http://www.adrianfavell.com

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