Japan’s art decade: 10 years of Mori Art Museum – picture feast

Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum celebrates its ten year anniversary with global-looking Japanese art.

To celebrate its tenth year, the Mori Art Museum is hosting “Roppongi Crossing 2013: OUT OF DOUBT” (21 September 2013 to 13 January 2014), a group exhibition including Japanese art stars that examines the country’s contemporary art from a global perspective.

Kaneuji Teppei, 'Ghost in the Liquid Room (lenticular) #1', 2012, Lenticular, reflection sheet, wood, 180 x 180 cm. Image courtesy ShugoArts, Tokyo.

Kaneuji Teppei, ‘Ghost in the Liquid Room (lenticular) #1’, 2012, Lenticular, reflection sheet, wood, 180 x 180 cm. Image courtesy ShugoArts, Tokyo.

Since 2004, “Roppongi Crossing”, a Japanese survey show, has been held every three years. This fourth edition, “Roppongi Crossing 2013: OUT OF DOUBT” running from 21 September 2013 to 13 January 2014, is curated by Kataoka Mami, Chief Curator of Mori Art Museum, Queensland Art Gallery‘s Asian Contemporary Curator Reuben Keehan and Gabriel Ritter, Assistant Curator at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Nakamura Hiroshi, 'Island', 1956, oil on canvas, 130 x 162 cm, Collection Hamamatsu Municipal Museum of Art. Image courtesy Mori Art Museum.

Nakamura Hiroshi, ‘Island’, 1956, oil on canvas, 130 x 162 cm, Collection Hamamatsu Municipal Museum of Art. Image courtesy Mori Art Museum.

Surveying current Japanese contemporary art, the exhibition features the works of 29 artists and groups. Many of the selected artists were born in the 1970s and 1980s, but a some historical figures such as Akasegawa Genpei and Nakamura Hiroshi are included.

Participating Artists

Kazama Sachiko, 'Alas! Heisoku-kan (Raging Battle-ship the Dead-End)', 2012, woodcut print (panel, Japanese paper, sumi ink), 181 x 418 cm. Photo by Miyajima Kei. Image courtesy Mujin-to Production, Tokyo.

Kazama Sachiko, ‘Alas! Heisoku-kan (Raging Battle-ship the Dead-End)’, 2012, woodcut print (panel, Japanese paper, sumi ink), 181 x 418 cm. Photo by Miyajima Kei. Image courtesy Mujin-to Production, Tokyo.

In the curatorial statement, the curators specify they are looking at art that references history, includes global perspectives and reflects “the social awareness that has clearly been heightened since the Great East Japan Earthquake and the triple disaster.”

Iwata Sohei x Prominority, 'House of Adivasi', 2010, soil, bamboo, straw, straw bale, reed, cow manure, microbial filtration water purifier, charcoal, 800 x 900 x 580 cm. Image courtesy Mori Art Museum.

Iwata Sohei x Prominority, ‘House of Adivasi’, 2010, soil, bamboo, straw, straw bale, reed, cow manure, microbial filtration water purifier, charcoal, 800 x 900 x 580 cm. Image courtesy Mori Art Museum.

Artworks in the exhibition range from paintings, sculptures and drawings, to architectural plans, performances and actual living experiences.

Iwata Sohei: Living art works

One such process-based piece is the work of artist Iwata Sohei. When Sohei finished his postgraduate studies at Tokyo University of Arts in 2003, he began clay construction work in India before becoming a representative of the Sarajevo International Culture Exchange (SICE), where he invited young artists from all over the world to work on art projects.

In 2008, he moved to India and lived in the countryside for four years. This experience culminated in a collaborative project with the residents of a Santali ethnic minority village, building a water tower, housing, and a local library.  His art collective Prominority, founded in 2012, is a platform to connect and aid artists and ethnic minorities through various collaborative activities.

At the Mori Art Museum before the exhibition in August, five Santali people worked with Iwata Sohei×Prominority and built a traditional mud-wall house in Roppongi Hills Mohri Garden.

Yanagi Yukinori, 'Eurasia', 2001, installation of live ants, colored sand, plastic box, plastic tube and plastic pipe, 235.0 x 594.5 cm (25.0 x 36.5 cm / each, 91 pieces altogether). Image courtesy Mori Art Museum.

Yanagi Yukinori, ‘Eurasia’, 2001, installation of live ants, colored sand, plastic box, plastic tube and plastic pipe, 235.0 x 594.5 cm (25.0 x 36.5 cm each, 91 pieces altogether). Image courtesy Mori Art Museum.

Art for ants

Yanagi Yukinori’s world flags made of coloured sand are disrupted by the moving pathways of living ants: during the course of the exhibition, the clearly defined lines of the flags blur and dissolve, resulting in chaos.

Niwa Yoshinori, 'Tossing Socialists in the Air in Romania', 2010, video documentation (29 min. 9 sec.), text. Image courtesy Ai Kowada Gallery.

Niwa Yoshinori, ‘Tossing Socialists in the Air in Romania’, 2010, video documentation (29m:9s), text. Image courtesy Ai Kowada Gallery.

The power of performance art

Niwa Yoshinori is a performance artist whose simple metaphorical acts refer to deeper issues. In Duplicating My House Key and Distributing the Copies (2012) Niwa hands out duplicate house keys to his home to strangers in a busy district of Tokyo, as a way to show the difficulty of connecting with others.

Watch a short video of Niwa’s performance shot in Bucharest in 2010, Tossing Socialists in the Air in Romania.

Suga Kishio, 'Linked Space', 2010, wire, cement, 220 x φ 323 cm, Installation view at Gallery 604, Busan. Photo by Sato Tsuyoshi. Image courtesy Mori Art Museum.

Suga Kishio, ‘Linked Space’, 2010, wire, cement, 220 x 323 cm, installation view at Gallery 604, Busan. Photo by Sato Tsuyoshi. Image courtesy Mori Art Museum.

Tajima Mika, 'The Extras', 2010, wood, canvas, acrylic paint, silkscreen, mirrored aluminum, wood, paper, plexiglas, MDF, spray enamel, video monitor, Formica, glass, lights, 152.4 x 243.8 x 213.4 cm, Photo by Jason Mandella. Image courtesy Sculpture Center, New York.

Tajima Mika, ‘The Extras’, 2010, wood, canvas, acrylic paint, silkscreen, mirrored aluminum, wood, paper, plexiglas, MDF, spray enamel, video monitor, Formica, glass, lights, 152.4 x 243.8 x 213.4 cm, Photo by Jason Mandella. Image courtesy Sculpture Center, New York.

Takasaka Masato, 'Return to Forever (Productopia)', 2009, cardboard, wood, plastic, MDF, acrylic, paint, paper, soft-drink cans, tape and discarded product packaging, dimensions variable. Installation view at “Cubism and Australian Art,” Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne. Photo by John Brash. Image courtesy Mori Art Museum.

Takasaka Masato, ‘Return to Forever (Productopia)’, 2009, cardboard, wood, plastic, MDF, acrylic, paint, paper, soft-drink cans, tape and discarded product packaging, dimensions variable. Installation view at “Cubism and Australian Art,” Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne. Photo by John Brash. Image courtesy Mori Art Museum.

Kazama Sachiko, 'Prison NUKE FISSION 235', 2012, woodcut print (panel, Japanese paper, sumi ink), 181 x 120 cm.  Photo by Miyajima Kei. Image courtesy Mujin-to Production, Tokyo.

Kazama Sachiko, ‘Prison NUKE FISSION 235’, 2012, woodcut print (panel, Japanese paper, sumi ink), 181 x 120 cm. Photo by Miyajima Kei. Image courtesy Mujin-to Production, Tokyo.

Takasaka Masato, 'ANOTHER PROPOSITIONAL MODEL FOR THE EVERYTHING ALWAYS ALREADYMADE WANNABE STUDIO MASATOTECTURES MUSEUM OF FOUND REFRACTIONS 1994-2012 (r)eternal return to productopia-almost everything all at once, twice three times (in four parts…)', 2012, mixed media, found objects, structural pine, MDF composition board, light box, dimensions variable, installation view at Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne. Photo by Jake Walker. Image courtesy Mori Art Museum.

Takasaka Masato, ‘ANOTHER PROPOSITIONAL MODEL FOR THE EVERYTHING ALWAYS ALREADYMADE WANNABE STUDIO MASATOTECTURES MUSEUM OF FOUND REFRACTIONS 1994-2012 (r)eternal return to productopia-almost everything all at once, twice three times (in four parts…)’, 2012, mixed media, found objects, structural pine, MDF composition board, light box, dimensions variable, installation view at Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne. Photo by Jake Walker. Image courtesy Mori Art Museum.

Susan Kendzulak

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Related Topics: museum shows, Tokyo art events, Japanese artists, picture feast

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