The problem behind the closing of “After ‘Freedom of Expression?’” was initially an operational problem of “risk management.” But now I think the situation is gradually sliding into a problem of self-censorship by Aichi governor Hideaki Omura and artistic director Daisuke Tsuda in the name of “safety.” To say that establishing a review committee will lead to the speedy reopening of “After ‘Freedom of Expression?’” is just pretense — or indeed a stalling device. I hear the day-to-day work of the Triennale office has been paralyzed dealing with these complicated problems. Though of course I have no idea how connected the different sections of the office are. It’s hard to get a grasp of it all; the details are so intricate.

But one thing is clear. The problems of flawed organization and insufficient preparation of response measures have gotten blurred in the larger frame of “combatting terrorist threats and intimidation,” which in turn has obscured the politicians’ denials of history, their insinuations of censorship, their words inciting people’s prejudices. And that could provide them a chance to take away our freedom of expression at some point.

I did not do all the work I have put into my practice so far just to consent to this. This is our problem, and the choices and actions made here will have a major effect on someone in the future.

In order to protest this situation, in order to think about it as our problem, I think it is necessary to reset the frame of my work itself. What I’m doing here is not a “temporary suspension” but turning my “work” into a performative situation. This project is meant to deconstruct the fictional image of the “Japanese” as a homogeneous race and encourage viewers to open their ears to the discrimination the protagonists have encountered in their lives. I had originally planned on holding a two-day event as an extension of my work for the Triennale’s Performing Arts program. Now I will further extend the extension event by holding it every Saturday as an assembly in the exhibition space. It will be a place for viewers to listen to the protagonists’ voices through the films, think about what was said/not said, and speak with each other using the protagonists’ words as a guide. Its function as a display (a form of spectatorship in which people randomly come and go during opening hours) will be limited. But I will turn the “display” into an “assembly” during that limited time.

This is my emergency response to the Aichi Triennale’s current situation.


Koki Tanaka
August 21, 2019

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