Geisai vrs Design Festa


Visitors to Takashi Murakami’s Geisai 13 last weekend were greeted by a sign declaring the near bankruptcy of the organisation, and asking humbly for donations. Having made the long trek out by train and local bus to Kaikai Kiki’s headquarters in Saitama, they might have been surprised to find a fairly ramshackle event, with only 172 booths, no organised competition, and a chilly sense of the impact of the recent economic downturn on the organisation. Quite a contrast from Geisai 11 and 12, when nearly a thousand young exhibitors, some of them paying up to ¥100,000 for the privilege, took part in a huge, glitzy event at Big Sight, Tokyo with multiple stages, star performances, media packages, and a big fake high school entertainment zone full of maid cafés. I bet now they are regretting the $1 million they blew on the huge televisions screens, as well all those expensive VIP invitations for the foreign judges flown in for the event...

The lucky "winner" of Geisai 11, and those expensive TV screens

I don’t know how Design Festa is doing financially, but the twice annual event at Big Sight appears to be going strong, with 2,500 participants at this weekend’s event over two days. Unlike Geisai, Design Festa claims and expects no great attention from the “serious” Tokyo art world. Yet Geisai is in many ways a straight copy of the Design Festa idea, which is now in its 20th incarnation, and was founded in 1994 by designer Kunie Usiki. You buy an affordable booth, and show off what you can do, in this case, to the 60,000 or so visitors than come each time. The permanent base in Harajuku provides a year-round venue for self-organised exhibitions, as well as a focal point for curious visitors. Geisai took the formula but added higher prices, Murakami’s personal appearance, a talent show contest, and famous invited curators as judges to give it the aura of a quality art show. I was amazed at Geisai 11 to hear famous art dealer Philippe Segalot speaking to the crowd with the clear belief that he had been invited to see the cream of the Tokyo art scene – a sad illusion, unfortunately, shared by many of the foreigners who visit Geisai. Basically, you see the same home spun amateur art at both events – with occasional glimpses of talent – and I much prefer the honest, democratic, “punk rock”, anything goes attitude of Design Festa and its committed organisers. While stars have been made through the show, that is very much not the point, and it becomes a much more genuine celebration of Tokyo creativity as a result.

Geisai is apparently heading back to Big Sight, and advertising for participants for version 14. So there must be some money left in the coffers, right? I hope the economic issues surrounding the latest show give pause to the organisation. Geisai has come packaged in revolutionary language about smashing the Japanese art system, and rejecting traditional university education for a do it yourself route to artistic stardom following Murakami’s self-help lessons. Yet it does not deliver on the promise of really providing this. With one or two notable exceptions, the event leaves a lot of young artists just having their hopes and dreams exploited, and their pockets emptied. I find it a lot more revolutionary what Murakami’s old rivals Masato Nakamura and Yukinori Yanagi have tried to do within the Japanese art education system. Murakami still enjoys a huge prestige and influence amongst the young and impressionable, and there are many positive things about Geisai’s call to believe in creativity however much it costs. However, it would be lot more believable as an event and a movement if it didn’t cost the price of a rental gallery and if education were really the goal – rather than it being a platform for fan-worship of the artist, an excuse for snatching international media attention away from the real contemporary art scene, or a recruitment scheme for Kaikai Kiki.





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Geisai vrs Design Festa
投稿元 : cheap louboutin shoes / 2013年06月01日03:58





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