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チェックと日本の現代美術界についての感想

Nakamura to Murakami

2010年4月14日


Internet gossip has been rife after Takashi Murakami twittered about his surprise recent visit to the newly opened 3331 Chiyoda Arts Center. Tipped off by a friend to go see the place, he ran into his former co-conspirator, and much longer term rival, Masato Nakamura, walking in a corridor. Nakamura, who is director of the centre, was busy with a meeting, but dropped everything to show his old friend around.

In a video posted afterwards online, Murakami, always the louder and more extrovert of the two, laughs and jokes around with the art students at the Nana-chan video room. He also speaks warmly to “Masato-kun”, jokingly (?) threatens to sue a fan who takes a photograph of him, and exclaims “sugoii ne!” and “omoshiroii!” a lot as he is shown around. When he finally gets Nakamura to talk about how the place is financed, he switches off the camcorder so they can talk money. You can watch what happened here (stick with it if there is an advertisement first):

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/5719999

Relations between the two artists soured after 1993 when Nakamura’s street intervention The Ginburart stole some of Murakami’s avant garde thunder on the blooming young Japanese art scene of the early 1990s (the image above is a tiny picture of the rare catalogue!). They have had bad relations ever since. Murakami was the first to make a name for himself with his early simulationist works, but for a time they ran together as the two most “likely lads” for success from their generation, during those extraordinarily creative years. Much of the scene is traced back to the birthday party they threw together in February 1992 (they share the same birthday, Murakami is one year older). Then there was the joint show the two planned and executed in Korea in the Summer of 1992, which is cited by everyone who went there as the defining network-making moment of that era. Those who took the plane to Seoul with the two artists (who were about 30) were a who’s who of the early 90s scene, including even Tsuyoshi Ozawa and Makoto Aida as young assistants helping out with doing video. I have recently interviewed three people who were there as witnesses: the writer/curator Min Nishihara, the artist and writer, Hideki Nakazawa, and writer/curator Kiki Kudo, was 19 at the time, and working as Murakami’s first assistant. To prepare for the event Nakamura and Murakami did a survey on which was the most hated Japanese name remembered from the war in Korea: Nakamura came first, Murakami second. And so “Nakamura to Murakami” became the title of a show that launched two of the most dynamic years in post-war Japanese art.

As Nakazawa told me, a lot of their rivalry lies in the different ways they have interpreted the legacy of Dada in Japan. Murakami was the conceptual purist of provocation, Nakamura more tempted by surrealist deviation, and more a believer in the social and community force of art. Once Murakami left for New York, and started to re-formulate – using simplified images of Japanese pop culture – the right post-Warhol framework to frame his drive for international art success, the two were set on irrevocably different paths. One has made a lot of noise and money internationally, but still yearns for recognition and serious acceptance in Japan. The other made it to Venice only to turn away from the meaningless of the international art world, and its pervasive disdain for Asian artists. Nakamura now favours local intervention and institutional change back home, and has slowly but surely created an education and community base that might make this possible. He believes you have to burrow into the inside of existing institutions to effect change – at 3331 you can witness this happening. Murakami has wanted to tear everything down, building a corporation to replace traditional galleries and museums, and an alternative anti-art education system, inspired by reality TV talent contests, to spot new young artists (GEISAI). Each in other words has his alternative system seeking to respond to the failings of the existing art system. It may “just” be art, but their influence is touching thousands of young people at a critical moment in their lives and careers.

I’ve said before how Nakamura to Murakami were the brightest of the “likely lads” of the early 1990s, the “glimmer twins” of that era, like a kind of upstart young John Lennon and Paul McCartney (you can decide which is which). Lennon and McCartney were once friends and partners in creation, but became estranged business moguls exchanging bitter anecdotes and comments via the media, and writing songs wondering how the other could ever manage to get to sleep. When McCartney famously showed up at the Dakota building in New York with a guitar saying they might write a few tunes like in the old days, Lennon turned him away saying that he was too busy looking after his kid boy (Sean) for the day. After they split, post Apple, the two artists were never the same, as powerful, or as good as when they were together.

Fine artists are often much more individualistic animals than musicians. The whole structure of the art system begs us to worship individual genius and fame, flatters egos, and plays down collaboration or any suggestion that creativity might be the product of social context and group interactions. Some of it, surely, is a question of recognition of what others are doing. In a second video on Twitter, reflecting on the meeting, Murakami says a little patronisingly that he is happy that Nakamura has finally done something, positioning himself with an enterprise and company like his own.

Yet while Murakami and his assistants have been painting happy flowers, and recycling tacky visions of Akihabara for the applause of ignorant foreigners, Nakamura’s Kandada organisation has since 1997 consistently promoted edgy interventionist art, that questions the changing city and notions of pubic space. In the famous Akihabara TV interventions, he didn’t just copy Akihabara but upset the everyday functioning of the place by putting avant garde artists on shop window television screens around the city. Moreover, on at least one reading, Nakamura’s famous Conbini and McDonalds installations of the late 1990s not lonely predated Murakami’s stunning branding deals with the Mori corporation and Louis Vuitton, but also took a more rigorous theoretical line on how and why the artist should make contracts with these big corporations who dominate Japanese consumer identity. Murakami rather ruefully admits in the video that Nakamura’s community intervention and organisational form of art makes him think about how he can pursue more corporate responsibility in the world of capitalism he embraces. He also says he might have something to learn from the ethics of Nakamura’s project. See the video here:

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/5720572

I interviewed Nakamura a few days after Murakami’s visit, and plan to write more about his vision for the 3331 and its place as an organisational art form in his practice. He didn’t mention seeing Murakami, but it was good to see these two artists friends again for a few moments on screen. The Beatles, on the hand, never got back together on good terms. A creative reconciliation would be a good thing for the Tokyo art world. But if Nakamura and Murakami are the Lennon and McCartney of Japanese contemporary art, I suppose one question remains: Who is Yoko Ono?

ADRIAN FAVELL
http://www.adrianfavell.com

みんなからのコメント

As a reference ARTiT Mr. Ozaki's blog from today:

連載 編集長対談10:総集編

日本的アートとは:「我々のリアリティ」が生み出すもの

「日本的なアート、非欧米圏のアートはあり得るのか、あるとしたらそれはどのようなものか」をテーマに様々な形でアートに携わるゲストを迎えた連続対談シリーズの総集編。9名のゲストとの対談を通じて導かれた結論とは?

http://www.art-it.asia/u/admin_columns/7NwamyGYCtS4nMFb6dLH


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Mario A / 亜 真里男
2010/04/14 10:51

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