Hundred Stories about Love

2009.4.29 – 8.30 (Zone 1) / 4.29 – 7.20 (Zone 2)
21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa

by Uchida Shinichi (ART iT)

Tanikawa Shuntaro+Yamamoto Motoi in the gallery space with Yamamoto’s100 Labyrinths
Photo Ikeda Hiraku, Courtesy the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa

At first glance, the title of this show seems a little overblown. Platonic love, brotherly love, philanthropic love, sexual love, affection, plain old partiality…it’s a theme of countless variations, and in fact, confronted by the works of the participating artist units – 43 in all – displayed around the museum, the viewer does indeed begin to wonder, is that love? Could this be love too?

Here we have Shimabuku’s take on subtle differences, consisting of vegetables tossed into tanks of water and titled Something to Float / Something to Sink; Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s piece consisting of some 300 light bulbs that flash on and off in sync with the different pulse rates of viewers; Shiota Chiharu’s perspective on the individual, group and memory manifested in a massive tower constructed from countless windows once the property of different owners. Or Teruya Yuken and Mona Hatoum’s look at birthplaces and the people who leave those places. For our part, we the audience return their gaze, new perspectives shaped by our own interpretations. The musician Ichiyanagi Toshi, poet Tanikawa Shuntaro, writer and singer Kawakami Mieko and co. also join in with exhibits or performances. Another feature of this show is an extensive program of more than 100 events revolving around the participating artists.

‘Open dialog’ is positioned separately from the title as a key element in the show. Product of an age that more than ever demands openness in art museums, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa has channeled the concept of open dialog into every aspect of its existence from design of the building and approach to collecting to the exhibitions staged there.

Last year’s Kanazawa Art Platform exhibition, which took the Museum to the streets, was a critical, practical attempt at open dialog with the local community, and in this latest show, the Museum seems to be addressing the intrinsic business of the art museum, ie what to do there, and what is possible. Hundred Stories about Love can also be seen as a declaration of resolve, as the Museum marks its fifth anniversary.

Locally based artist Yamamoto Motoi, who makes labyrinths (mazes) from salt crystals, has incorporated 100 circles in his latest labyrinth. The hundredth is a huge arc forming one side of the entire work, alluding to a circle identical in size to this Museum, which is built in the shape of a disc. The remaining 99 circles are suggestive of artists, still advancing in this time of confusion, or perhaps the everyday ‘stories’ taking place outside the Museum. Nobody can tell if the circles are joined in the labyrinth, but the artist ‘hopes they are’. Love is about ‘never giving up on dialog’, and one could almost hear such voices from somewhere in the crowded galleries.

[This review appears also in ART iT No. 24 Summer 2009]

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