Iwasaki to Represent Japan at Venice Biennale 2017

The artist Takahiro Iwasaki will represent Japan at the 57th Venice Biennale, it was announced at a press conference held Jun 15 at the Japan Foundation headquarters in Tokyo.

Under the current system, the Japan Pavilion exhibition is decided through a competition among curators who are picked by the Japan Foundation to submit proposals to a selection panel. Born in Hiroshima in 1975, and still based in his hometown, Iwasaki was proposed by Meruro Washida, of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, who will be the curator of the Japan Pavilion.

Iwasaki is known for creating delicate, architectural structures out of unusual materials like fabric threads, toothbrush bristles, hair and books, as well as for his wooden “Reflection Model” works recreating iconic Japanese temple buildings in tandem with their inverted mirror images, so that it appears the building is floating directly above its reflection in water. The working title of the Japan Pavilion, “Upside-down Forest,” suggests the exhibition will build upon this body of work. It is expected to include four new works: two from the “Out of Disorder” series, and one each from the “Reflection Model” and “Tectonic Model” series.

The plan will take advantage of the distinct architecture of the Japan Pavilion building itself, which is raised above the ground on pilotis, with an opening in the middle of the floor of the upper-level space. Iwasaki and Washida intend to create steps leading up from the open area beneath the pavilion so that visitors can emerge through the floor into the exhibition, as though rising up from the sea onto land. In a prepared statement, Iwasaki said that he wants to play with shifts among different kinds of sight, from a bird’s-eye comprehension of scale to an insect’s view of fine detail and a fish-eyed distortion of space. For his part, Washida said he hopes visitors to the Japan Pavilion will enjoy Iwasaki’s work, which “uses unique means to connect ‘Japanese-style’ expression with the history of Hiroshima and the situation in the Japanese countryside.”

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