ARTIST TALK JAPANESE
Asia’s Contemporary Market: The Superflat Market’s Risks and Possibilities
Takashi Murakami, Artist
Friday 28 November 2008, 5:30pm – 7:00pm
Venue: Grand Hall, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
Language: Japanese with English and Putonghua simultaneous interpretation
“Now, we’re seeing cracks develop in the global economic structure. A structure built by rich people for the benefit of rich people.
For many years, art has been thought of mainly as a luxury for these same privileged few. Those who seek to understand the history of museums would do best to look at the Louvre Museum as a guide. In other words, during the French Revolution, the conventional hierarchy of rich and privileged people on the top and less privileged people on the bottom was overturned, and forms of entertainment once thought of only as a luxury for royal consumption became open for all people to enjoy.
I, too, as a Japanese, began my work as an artist with the belief that making works accessible to the general public was an idea at the very core of art itself. But the fact is that my work as well has largely served as a luxury for those who find themselves ahead in our capitalist system, for the rich.
In Japan, it is very difficult for artists to grow and thrive. The reason lies in the country’s post-war tax system. Before WW II, a great number of our wealthy could be relied on as collectors of Japanese art but after the war, the powerful conglomerates were broken up and it became nearly impossible to retain expensive works for more than a generation. Foundations, as well, began to lose their merit and it became harder and harder for them to function. It was under these circumstances that Manga, Anime, Games and the entire Otaku world that surrounds them came to be.
Not a luxury made for the consumption of those who can afford it, but something made for everyone. That’s otaku culture. The Superflat concept that I refer to is simply the setting aside of economic considerations in order to preserve the context provided by that culture.
But now, even Superflat has gradually become a luxury. However, I would remind you of the example that the Louvre provides. Art may travel a long road but it always returns eventually to the hands of the people.
Now I would like to explain a little bit more about Otaku-culture, in the hopes that it will help you understand what the Superflat concept is all about.”
TAKASHI MURAKAMI was born in 1962 in Tokyo, and received his B.F.A., M.F.A. and Ph.D from the Tokyo University of the Arts (formerly known as Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music). He founded the Hiropon Factory in Tokyo in 1996, which later evolved into Kaikai Kiki Co., a large-scale art production and art management corporation. Murakami is also a curator, entrepreneur, and a critical observer of contemporary Japanese society. His own work has been shown extensively in group and solo exhibitions at leading institutions around the world, most recently at MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst where his 2008 exhibition, “© MURAKAMI,” was the most comprehensive retrospective of his work to date. © MURAKAMI is currently in the midst of a four-city, three-country tour. Murakami is also internationally recognized for his collaboration with designer Marc Jacobs for the Louis Vuitton fashion house, as well as for his design of the cover art for Kanye West’s double-platinum, 3-time Grammy Award-winning album, Graduation.
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