Okayama Art Summit 2016: a new triennial for Japan

The new triennial launches in September 2016.

The Okayama Art Summit is holding its inaugural event in Autumn 2016, and has recently announced its participating artists and curatorial concept.

Philippe Parreno, 'With a Rhythmic Instinction to be Able to Travel Beyond Existing Forces of Life (Green, Rule #1)', 2014, installation view at the 56th Venice Biennale “All the World’s Futures” . © Philippe Parreno. Image courtesy the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin.

Philippe Parreno, ‘With a Rhythmic Instinction to be Able to Travel Beyond Existing Forces of Life (Green, Rule #1)’, 2014, installation view at the 56th Venice Biennale “All the World’s Futures” . © Philippe Parreno. Image courtesy the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin.

Less than a month and a half prior to its opening on 10 September 2016, the Okayama Art Summit (OAS) announces its list of participating artists and theme. Entitled “Development”, the inaugural edition of the new Japanese triennial includes 31 international established and up-and-coming artists and is curated by New York artist Liam Gillick as Artistic Director. OAS is organised by the Okayama Art Summit Executive Committee, chaired by Okayama’s mayor Masao Omari, and directed by Taro Nasu, owner of well-known art gallery TARO NASU.

Running until 27 November 2016, the triennial takes place in Okayama, from which it is named, a city situated in the southeastern Chugoku region on Honshu Island, facing the Seto Inland Sea. Okayama is home to one of the three most famous gardens in Japan – the Kōrakuen (後楽園) – built in the early 18th century, and the Okayama Castle, around which the exhibition venues and cultural facilities are concentrated.

Venues of the triennial include Korakukan Tenjin School,
 Tenjinyama Cultural Plaza of Okayama Prefecture, Okayama Orient Museum,
 Former Fukuoka Soy Sauce Factory, 
Cinema Clair Marunouchi,
 Hayashibara Museum of Art, 
Okayama Castle,
 Okayama Prefectural Government Offices Area, and other locations.

Peter Fischli + David Weiss, 'How to work better', 1991, mural. Installation view, Zurich-Oerlikon. © Peter Fischli David Weiss

Peter Fischli + David Weiss, ‘How to work better’, 1991, mural. Installation view, Zurich-Oerlikon. © Peter Fischli David Weiss

Art in Development

OAS’ Artistic Director Liam Gillick chose the inaugural curatorial concept of “Development”. Gillick is a New York-based artist whose work has been included in numerous important exhibitions such as dOCUMENTA and the Berlin and Istanbul Biennales. Gillick represented Germany in 2009 at the Venice Biennale and he has held solo museum exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Tate in London.

As expressed in OAS’ event outline,

Development is the process of creating something over time.

Development implies growth and advancement.

Development applies to narrative and cinema.

Development can be a permanent state of future potential.

Ryan Gander, 'Visualization of Because editorial is costly', 2016
, stainless steel, rubble
. Sculpture: 2315(w) x 2008(h) x 2209(d)mm. 
Crater: dimensions variable. 
© Ryan Gander. Image courtesy the artist and TARO NASU.

Ryan Gander, ‘Visualization of Because editorial is costly’, 2016
, stainless steel, rubble
. Sculpture: 2315(w) x 2008(h) x 2209(d)mm. 
Crater: dimensions variable. 
© Ryan Gander. Image courtesy the artist and TARO NASU.

Gillick writes in his curatorial statement for the event:

The word here should be understood in various ways. Okayama is an exemplary city. Its historical relationship to development in an urbanistic sense is very particular. Moving between the various site of the Art Summit the visitor will encounter the layering of change, renovation and rebuilding that is at the heart of the contemporary Japanese city. […]

The word “Development” here also relates to my interest in pre and post production – in cinema, developed capitalism and strategic planning. Ideas in development always retain potential but development strategies are not value-free. Many of the artists here deploy modes of withdrawal and resistance in the face of the dominance of “ideas in development”. They work around pre- production and post-production games. Creating works that are in permanent development or constantly reflect back on the conditions of their production and reception.

Katja Novitskova, 'Approximation Mars I', 2014, digital print on aluminium, cutout display, plant granulat, 140 x 240 x 100 cm | 55 x 94 1/2 x 39 1/3 in, edition of 1 (+ 1AP). Image courtesy Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin. Photo: Hans-Georg Gaul.

Katja Novitskova, ‘Approximation Mars I’, 2014, digital print on aluminium, cutout display, plant granulat, 140 x 240 x 100 cm | 55 x 94 1/2 x 39 1/3 in, edition of 1 (+ 1AP). Image courtesy Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin. Photo: Hans-Georg Gaul.

The 31 artists in the inaugural triennial all play with structures – be they ideological, formal or political – in very specific and individual ways. As Gillick writes, each artist “layers their work upon what they encounter” and “they offer various levels of distance to the given structure”. Visitors will have different layers of encounter, examination and experience of the works. The artists in the exhibition include, among others:

Pierre Huyghe, Exhibition view at Documenta 13, Karlsaue Park, Kassel, Germany, 2012. ©Pierre Huyghe. Image courtesy the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin. Photo: © Andrea Rossetti.

Pierre Huyghe, Exhibition view at Documenta 13, Karlsaue Park, Kassel, Germany, 2012. ©Pierre Huyghe. Image courtesy the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin.
Photo: © Andrea Rossetti.

The camera and the subject

To visit the triennial exhibition, there will be two routes. Following the first route, a single visitor can take the role of an individual ”camera” – as Gillick explains, seeing the city and the artworks from specific points of view. By taking the second route, groups of visitors function as “collective subjects”. There will be interaction between visitors and artworks, visitors and visitors, local people and visitors, as cameras and subjects. Gillick explains in his statement:

In Okayama we will experience “Development” as camera and subject. A film in real time that places renewed focus on how artists play, produce and fight for and against “A world viewed without myself.”

Lawrence Weiner, '1/2 BEGUN 1/2 FINISHED WHENSOEVER
', 2008 / 2016, 
Language + The Materials Referred To Dimension variable. © 2016 LAWRENCE WEINER - ARS / JASPAR, Tokyo. Mock-Up Photograph. Image courtesy Moved Pictures Archive, NYC.

Lawrence Weiner, ‘1/2 BEGUN 1/2 FINISHED WHENSOEVER
’, 2008 / 2016, 
language + variable materials, dimensions variable. © 2016 LAWRENCE WEINER – ARS / JASPAR, Tokyo. Mock-Up Photograph. Image courtesy Moved Pictures Archive, NYC.

He writes:

At the heart of “Development” is a play with time as a component of artistic practice not reduced to time based media alone. This is where the visitor’s role becomes central to the project. Thinking about “Development” in its cinematic sense, the exhibition will offer two ways to encounter the various works.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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Related Topics: triennials, events in Japan, cinema, time based media

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