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チェックと日本の現代美術界についての感想

Gokon Anomaly

2009年9月30日


Call me a cynic, but doesn’t the recent transformation of some of Tokyo’s leading contemporary art galleries into matchmaking love parlours for rich Tokyo art fanciers smack of desperation?

http://www.civicart.jp/gokon/

Times must be hard, if serious galleries are cheapening their hard won reputations this way. The third heavily publicised evening art “gokon” entitled “I Love Art: Love And Capitalism vols 1-4” – I wish I could believe this were ironic – recently took place at Tomio Koyama, after swinging sexily through Yamamoto Gendai and Nanzuka Underground in August and July. With numbers of wannabe art lovers expanding every time, it looks like a big new Tokyo social hit.

I’m sure it looked like a good idea on paper. A bit of proverbial fun. Art openings have always been an excuse for a good party, and as the art world has become the new rock and roll increasing numbers of beautiful people in search of their mojo have used gallery openings as their hunting ground. Maybe it was always naïve to think that people were there for the art rather than the chance to hook up. Art galleries of course can function as a social filter in the same way that college educated people hang out evenings at Barnes and Nobles in the US in the hope of finding an acceptably intelligent and high earning mate. But an organised gokon takes this logic in a commercial and elitist direction, with gallerists becoming hosts and hostesses for business professionals whose art credentials or interest need not stretch further than the ability to fork out 5000 yen for a ticket. The price alone excludes the starving students and undiscovered artists who generally make these events swing: 5000 yen adds up to quite a lot of conbini instant noodle dinners or cans of Asahi. Instead, the “busy, successful but missing true love” Tokyoite can put aside the internet dating, dress up smart in a jacket if they are man, or put on a dress --“a stylish and pretty thing”-- if they are a women, and follow the party rules to their dream romance. At Yamamoto Gendai, the women’s tickets were cheaper, and they sold out faster. Eager single females had taken all the slots, leaving the mathematics of coupling distinctly weighted towards the men. After peanuts, champagne and art chat, they were on their own at 10pm, with certainly more options for a nijikai or karaoke if they were in Shirokane than in Kiyosumi.

Art and love in Tokyo clearly mix quite often. Yuko Yamamoto is, herself, one half of Tokyo contemporary arts’second most famous couple with Noi Sawaragi (after Hiroshi Sugimoto and Atsuko Koyanagi, of course), and it is an alliance that dates back to that most famous swinging social scene of all, the Roentgen Kunst Institut of the early 1990s. But schmoozing along with young smart professionals who have an interest in painting seems a long way from the punk rock party nights of the early 90s in Omori, when Sawaragi’s shock tactics included, in one notorious Anomaly show, a sperm bank installation with partner Tsutomo Ikeuchi and artist Yamatsuka Nemoto. Or maybe there is a strange continuity between these youthful follies and smart middle age business moves. The new style Armani jacket and Vuitton bag gokon of Tokyo contemporary might well be a situationist stunt too. A new work entitled “Sixty beautiful people standing in a gallery talking about art". Get them to all read Tomio Koyama's latest shinsho on how to price a work of art, and speculate on the value and meaning of some new erotic works by Satoshi Ono. Add salt, shake or stir. Observe. Then try it again somewhere else. The fourth volume sees the lonely hearts party head to Magical Art Room, in Ebisu. At least they have a decent bar there.

ADRIAN FAVELL
http://www.adrianfavell.com

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Gokon Anomaly
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