|Dec. 17, 1996||Jan. 21, 1997|
Art Watch Index - Dec. 24, 1996
Art Watch Back Number Index
"Yokohama International Photo Festival '96"
<<New Japanese Photography 1990's: Resonance of
International PhotoFiesta '96
PhotoGuide Japan's PhotoOrganizations
Chihiro MINATO (in Japanese)
Toshiharu ITO (in Japanese)
Naoya HATAKEYAMA (in Japanese)
YOKOHAMA MUSEUM OF ART
The Classic Camera
PhotoGuide Japan's PhotoBulletin
The "Yokohama International Photo Festival '96" Sets Sail
A new photography festival
An event called the "Yokohama International Photo Festival '96" is running from October through December. It is a photo festival that features more than 20 photo exhibitions, symposiums, and workshops, centering around Yokohama.
Such on-going events centering on photography started to emerge since the '80's in the cities worldwide. Some of the most renowned are those held in Paris, Areles, Houston and Rotterdam. In Japan too, the International Photo Festival (Photo Fiesta), which has more than10 years' history, is held in Higashikawacho, Hokkaido, since 1985. Also, from last year, The Month of Photography, Tokyo, sponsored by the Photographic Society of Japan has started (held from May to June every year). Originally, photography is a media that appeals to the general public, and is suitable for this type of event where the photographers and the audience become one. Today, different types of film festivals are held around Japan, but we may be seeing more photo festivals in the future.
Issues and Possibilities for the Festival
The "Yokohama International Photo Festival", being the first of its kind, lacked preparation time and budget that led to some problems that became apparent. Although much cannot be done about the scattering of participating venues over a wide area, the period of exhibitions varied during the October-December time span, so that visitors had to come 2 or 3 times to cover the entire program. This was especially inconvenient for those visitors coming from far away. More effort is probably needed to have the main features of the festival to open at the same time. Also, the content of the photographic exhibitions and symposiums were too diversified, lacking a unified perspective. Of course, all the projects under a single theme would make the event too formal, but there should be a consistent message transmitted from the entire event, through having several groupings under loose themes.
Despite the above mentioned points, the projects over all were of high quality, suggesting the promise of high expectations for the event's future. Exhibitions by Jun SHIRAOKA, followed by Daisaku HARUTA's, then by Harry Thullier's, at the Past Rays Photo Gallery, which served as the administration office for this festival, the exhibition entitled "The Pier I Remember", by Chihiro MINATO using the passenger ship terminal alongside the pier, and the "New Japanese Photography 1990's/Resonance of Unconciousness", directed by Toshiharu ITO (Yokohama Citizen's Gallery with Eiji INA, Ko INOSE, Yoshihiko UEDA, Seiji KURATA, Michiko KON, Toshio SHIBATA, Kyoji TAKAHASHI, Naoya HATAKEYAMA, Hitoshi FUGO, Seiichi FURUYA, Ryuji MIYAMOTO), were all very good exhibitions created with much energy. Other exhibitions worth seeing were those under the theme of the ocean and the port, subjects appropriate for Yokohama.
The cultural background of Yokohama
Yokohama is one of the places where the photography culture in Japan takes root, as seen in the establishment of the oldest portrait photography studio by Renjo SHIMOOKA in 1862. In 1989, the Yokohama Museum of Art opened with a facility for photography exhibits, and in 1994, the Yokohama city invested 400 million yen to buy the "Naylor Collection", consisting of historical photographic equipment and works. In that sense, Yokohama has the historical and cultural infrastructure to develop the International Photo Festival on an even larger scale. This festival gave us an impression that it "set sail" before full preparation had been completed, but expectations are high for the next event to be of a much bigger scale.
[Kohtaro IIZAWA/Photography Critic]
<<"Land-O-Lakes", the New Works of Mike Kelley>>
JOHN WATERS / MIKE KELLEY
artbooks by shinro ohtake
Alien8 Recordings: Merzbow
The Conversation: Masaya Nakahara Violent Onsen Geisha
Violent Onsen Geisha Discography
DESTROY ALL MONSTERS
Destroy All Monsters Japan tour
The Fine Art in the West Coast and "Destroy All Monsters"
The arrival of the "West Coast Corps"!
All three of them are artists who have come into the limelight in the '80's, known through their reconsideration of the scheme of fine art which had been developing mainly around New York. Thus, they have long careers, and since the '70's, each of them have been pursuing their unique activities.
What is the tangent point between them and the Fareast "underground" scene?
Compared to the New York art scene, where the cultural continuity with Europe had been emphasized, and where they are stoic in both theory and exhibition, the West Coast did not try to hide their influence from the subculture, their works being sometimes unprecedented and unorganized. Actually, in Tokyo too, the West Coast art has been accepted more in tangent with the underground scene rather than in line with fine art. Because of this fact, I would like to emphasize that frankly, seeing the fine art-oriented people, focusing at this point, on their works and performances as if something amazing are occurring, is a little disappointing.
If that is what is happening, then why did they not even give a single glance towards people like Shinro OHTAKE, Ai YAMATSUKA, Masami AKITA, and the Violent Onsen Geisya, who were involved in "underground" acitivities in the '70's to the '80's, and were doing very similar things to the above artists? In anyway, what can be discerned, as before, from the helter-skelter responses from the art experts who hurriedly prance onto anything that receives high appraisal overseas, is an aftereffect of the Fareastern Modernism which has stopped midway for eternity.
I hope that people will understand that I state as above considering the situation in Japan, and giving maximum evaluation to the events which have "cleared the hurdle" of introducing the artists to Japan.
The re-organization of the "legendary band"
Probably, the biggest achievement of the arrival of the "West Coast Corps" to Japan, is the re-organization of the "Destroy All Monsters" (with participation by Mike Kelley). The venue, La Foret Harajuku, due also to the participation of the Violent Onsen Geisya and EYE YAMATAKA, was crowded with young audiences who seemed like those who usually were unrelated to fine art. However, as the true, unskilled character of the "Destroy" were exposed to this group of audience who were awfully experienced in listening to good music as a result of the unprecedented consumer society we are in today, gradually the audience started to gather in the corridor, and some even started to make fun of the band. I also was about to shout out once, that "fine art should stop making fun of music", but as I listened to the monotonous reading of all the lyrics of all the songs, seeing the broken keyboard from start to end, and Mike Kelley exploding because things were not working right, and listening to the cover versions of The Beatles which was mostly incomprehensible, I realized that maybe something that was extremely meaningless was occurring, and I felt like wanting to straighten up. Although I do think that the result was due to lack of practice, underestimating Japan (the monkeys), old age, and preparing an inappropriately grand "venue", it was certainly true that this event was both an appalling and magnificent, rarely seen live. No other words besides "the legendary band" may be able to describe them.
[Noi SAWARAGI/Art Critic]
The Masato NAKAMURA Exhibition,
We're FamilyMart(in Japanese)
The Masato NAKAMURA Exhibition, <<TraumaTrauma>>
The latest exhibition of Masato NAKAMURA, one of outstanding young artists of contemporary art in Japan (born 1963 in Akita prefecture), was held at the SCAI THE BATHHOUSE gallery in Yanaka, Tokyo, from November 7th to December 14th, 1996. Characteristic of NAKAMURA, who has been presenting works which thoroughly invetigated plasticity among the group of artists of the generation, which share the interest towards the society surrounding fine art, this was an extremely impressive exhibition that was a depiction of excellent criticism of contemporary Japan, as well as having a powerful visual effect.
Creating works out of convenience store signboards
The works are colorful back-light signboards of 4 leading convenience stores that are often seen in town, but without the company names written on them. However, the signages were not simply brought over from the streets, but the artist, with the approval from each company, faithfully re-created the materials, process, design, and colors, and displayed them on the walls of the gallery. The familiar colors are all there; white-blue-red, green-white-blue, orange-red-white-pink-blue, white-orange-green-red. The "signboards" were made in approximately the same less-than-4 meter-lengths and stacked in 3 layers, and if they were not those recreating the convenience store signs, they are beautiful enough to be independent works of art. I felt a fresh surprise, as if having seen a new work of Minimalism.
NAKAMURA has been a focus of attention, ever since he presented his work using a rotating signpole of a Korean barber shop 4 years ago. He makes art from objects or information that exist in our daily lives, and examines and criticizes the differences of cultures, and today's commercialism and the information society. However, although NAKAMURA takes on these social issues up front, the appeal of his works may lie in the fact that they avoid direct assertion, holding the value of plastic art, and even offering sophisticated humor through them. In this exhibition too, the brightly illuminated signboards convey the efforts that NAKAMURA has undergone over several months, until he was finally able to convince the wary convenience store companies who were baffled by his unusual request. While the accurately created signages allude to various issues such as those about trademark rights, corporate images, the consumer society, advanced capitalism, and the relationship between society and art, NAKAMURA's works remind us that art can only be established through visual effect, and they also sharply criticize the recent artistic trends which tend to forget the importance of the "creation of objects" after dealing with "society".
The unfortunate title of the exhibition
If I were to point out one shortcoming of the exhibition, it would be its title, <<TRAUMATRAUMA>>. If NAKAMURA was trying to express the commercial designs of convenience stores in the daily scenery, that are printed on our consciousness without our being aware, by using the word "trauma" meaning psychological damage, the title is either farfetched or banal. Moreover, what sort of meaning lies in repeating the word twice...? This title is no exception from other recent exhibitions and work titles, for which we sometimes see ones that are totally difficult to understand. There are many mistakenly used foreign words due to a personal obsession the curator or the artist has. Even if we try to introduce the Japanese art scene to the world, if there are words that are incomprehensible or untranslatable used continuously, the effort becomes meaningless. A word that is considered "common wisdom" in the world of art may not always be understood by the general public, and the role of the curator, which is to communicate to the general people, should not be forgotten. I highly recommend to consult an expert before putting a title to an exhibition, especially if it is in a non-Japanese language.
[Satoru NAGOYA/Art Journalist]
Saburo TESHIGAWARA + KARAS "Vacuum"
Saburo TESHIGAWARA + KARAS "Vacuum"
Saburo TESHIGAWARA + KARAS
Butoh Dance | Sankaijuku
"Vacuum", the New Work by TESHIGAWARA
I saw "Vacuum", the new work by Saburo TESHIGAWARA. My expectations were high all the more because it was his latest work.
However, those expectations were suspended in limbo, due to a sign of "movement", which was a turn towards an unexpected direction. The stage seemed to be torn between the "past" and the "future" of TESHIGAWARA and his team, KARAS.
The "past" of TESHIGAWARA
The "past" means the following. The characteristic of TESHIGAWARA's stage was, for good or bad, the contention between "dance" and "fine art". TESHIGAWARA has studied plastic art, and besides choreography, he chose stage design as another place for the expression of his "aesthetics" (Actually, aside from his dance activities, he also produces installation works). Also, his inclination towards "fine art" existed not only in his stage design, but also in his dance. His dance was especially characterized by the contention and struggle between the vector towards plasticity/form and the vector that tried to take away and differentiate the form from the internal towards the strength of the body. Therefore, when that vector swung too much towards his interest to form, or when there was excess "fine art", the body sometimes fell to become the "puppet" of "fine art". However, in most cases, this adherence towards form or the body as "fine art" contributed to the generation of a miraculous "dance" through his genius-like physical strength and its differentiation, within Teshigawara as an individual, but when that influenced the other dancers in his team (who do not carry the "genius" of Teshigawara), on the other hand, it suppressed their dance, making it look as if they were turned into sacrificial bodies offered to his "aesthetics". Such aesthetic absolutism carries a danger of pursuing oneself more and more into mannerism (such as that of Sankaijuku, though the form is different), the more one investigates this within oneself.
Love for the others, or the start of a "move"?
This time too, (I) have seen the signs of such "mannerism" in some parts of the work - in the dance itself of several members of KARAS, and in the stage design, lighting, direction, and so on. However, "Vacuum" did not end with just that. It showed a sign of "movement" towards the "future" and of something unknown. The "aesthetics" of TESHIGAWARA which should have been perfect had shown an open seam. That seam was the openness towards the "others". TESHIGAWARA's aesthetic absolutism, unexpectedly was about to disintegrate itself towards the other or towards "something different". The seam was seen, for example, in the happiness of the lively motions of the liberated body (from the "suppression") of several dancers of KARAS, and more over, it was expressed in the way the members were selected out of the "Workshop" -- introduced in the first issue of this series -- that TESHIGAWARA has been holding from several years ago. Those members did become sacrifices to his "aesthetics" as usual depending on the scene, and there were also cases where merely individual characteristics were used as "characters", but this time, there was more than that. An attitude to try and accept those who were "not good" and were not "perfect" just the way they were, was seen. Certainly, that attitude of "accepting" showed failure in direction in some scenes. However, clearly, a love for the "others" could be felt in such situations.
To where is TESHIGAWARA trying to go, from here on? "Vacuum" may be a revolutionary work that could become the entrance to TESHIGAWARA's new world.
[Takaaki KUMAKURA/French Literature, Contemporary Art]
<<Architecture of the Year 1996
- Camera obscura or Architectural Museum of
The books of Arata ISOZAKI are put in a Japanese tea ceremony room at the center of the hall.
"Architecture in the Ultimate State"
"Another Plan for MEIJI"
all photos: Takashi OHTAKA
<<Architecture of the year 1996
Tanaka Jun's Site
Grand Lodge of California - Home Page
The Josef Stalin Internet Archive
The Mao Tse-tung Internet Archive
The Modern Tokyo Viewed From the Architectures
- <Made in Tokyo>
Momoyo Kaijima + T.M.I.T.
<<Architecture of the Year 1996>>
A historical study of architecture and politics over revolution
<<Architecture of the Year 1996>> was held at the Met-Hall in the Metropolitan Plaza of Ikebukoro, Tokyo, from November 20 to December 3, 1996. This exhibition, entitled "Camera obscura or Architectural Museum of Revolutions" was produced by Arata ISOZAKI, who designated 4 young curators to organize one of each exhibition spaces on his/her own theme.
Along with the displayed "camera obscuras (a dark box used in the Renaissance Era before the camera was invented)", a Japanese tea ceremony room made of glass was set up in the center of the hall. This room was embraced by the "Room for Discourse", a bigger room whose wall was filled with words describing the architecture in the revolution era, and furthermore, similar to the composition of nested boxes, this larger room was surrounded by another exhibition space separated into four smaller display rooms.
The "Visionary Machine - the architecture of the French Revolution"
The first room was the "Visionary Machine", organized by the curator, Jun TANAKA. The "light windows" placed in the room are observation instruments to recreate two different types of "visionary machines", referring to the eyeballs of two architects who lived in the French Revolution era, Jean Nicolas Louis Durand and Jean Jacque Lequeu. In "recombination 2" which was based on Durand's postulate, Tanaka aligned fake text data whose vertical surfaces were created in the same height, ignoring the scale, and alloted them on a large, horizontal blue surface frame. The object was a "collection of comparable diagrams" reproduced as a result of the study of gene recombination. Another piece "J.L.Q" was comprised of three boxes made of frames set vertically. They were displayed as Lequeu's montages resulting from disintegration, expansion and reconsolidation. Each box could be rephrased into the perspectives of the era, namely "sex / body", "Free Mason / Hermetic underground dogma" and "orientalism / imperialistic world view".
"Architecture As a Spectacle - Another Plan for MEIJI"
In the second room, there was the exhibition, "Another Plan for MEIJI", set up by the curator, Norihito NAKATANI. There, NAKATANI used the field book of Chuuta ITO, who lived through Japan's major turning point, from the Edo era through the Meiji era, to show the change in architectural images of the period. In order to compare the field book in which ITO captured fragments of the world, with the view towards the world at the time, "The Picture of the World" was also displayed. Also, the drawings and the model created as the plan for a gigantic spiral tower, made by ITO in 1902 for the 5th Domestic Industrial Exposition, were also exhibited.
"Architecture in the Ultimate State - the Phantasm of the Nation of Socialism"
Room number 3 was the "Architecture in the Ultimate State", curated by Hironori MATSUBARA. Here, the image of architecture in the socialistic world born through the Russian and Chinese Revolutions, was featured. The exhibition included perspective drawings of the Soviet Palace by B. M. Iofan and others for a competition held by Stalin's suggestion, Mao Zedong's plan for the Hall for the People's Congress, and the drawings of G. N. Gamon-Gaman, the property of the Museum of the Moscow Architectural University , and they communicate the ideal and energy for the construction of a socialistic state at the time.
The "City as a Massproducer - Made in Tokyo"
This room titled the "City as a Massproducer", by curator, Momoyo KAIJIMA, was the last of the four rooms. For the exhibition, KAIJIMA selected architecture which harmoniously united different functions, such as distribution, transportation, communication, production and residences, from the 23 wards of Tokyo, and named them "Made in Tokyo". The pictures of these architectures were printed on T-shirts and displayed on hangers, and throughout the exhibition period, they were merchandised. Visitors may have been able to experiencedirectly, the logistics of merchandise, and communication in "Made in Tokyo".
Based on the theme of the revolution which is a transformation of a social system, the relationship between architecture and the world, and a statement about that relationship, were reflected in the tea ceremony room of Jouo TAKENO through the narrow entrance. Are the books collected by Isozaki for the tea ceremony room indications of his question within the camera obscura called "architectural history"? If the result of the revolution achieved through the advocated ideal was the present, in order to think about the future today, we must re-question the past history and revolutions from the standpoint of the present.
|Art Watch Back Number Index|
|Dec. 17, 1996||Jan. 21, 1997|