The Nissan Art Award 2017 Grand Prix announces its prize winner.
In its third edition, the Biennial prize has been awarded to artist and filmmaker Hikaru Fujii.
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd, Yokohama, Japan, has announced Japanese artist Hikaru Fujii as the winner of the Nissan Art Award 2017 Grand Prix. Other finalists include Motoyuki Daifu, Ryuichi Ishikawa, Yuichiro Tamura and Nami Yokoyama, chosen in the initial round in May 2017. Their work is currently on display in Yokohama.
Inaugurated in 2013, the Nissan Art Award was created as part of Nissan’s 80th anniversary celebrations, and aims to support emerging Japanese contemporary artists and develop Japan’s cultural community for the benefit of future generations. It selects artists from a variety of disciplines, with subjects ranging from the familiar to historical interpretation.
Along with receiving JPY5 million in prize money, the prize winner is also given a trophy and awarded a special residency. Fujii will be given the opportunity to participate in a three-month residency at the International Studio & Curatorial Program in New York.
The Winner: Hikaru Fujii
Born in 1976 in Tokyo, Hikaru Fujii graduated from the University of Paris, where he started his career in new media art. Returning to Japan in 2005, his work examines Japanese history alongside contemporary world affairs, often using archive material, particularly film and video to reinterpret social events, memory, history and relationships.
His work is interdisciplinary, often comprising of workshops and documentaries, as well as writing for theatre and film. Recent exhibitions include “MOT Annual 2016: Loose Lips Save Ships” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (2016) and the “Aomori City Archives Exhibition: The construction of history is dedicated to the memories of the unnamed”.
Playing Japanese is a multi-channel video installation, developed from material gathered during a workshop. The artist invited members of the public to “perform” what it means to be Japanese, exploring social identities and constructions, alongside political problems within Japanese culture.
For the Nissan Art Award, Fujii’s work Playing Japanese was selected from five finalists. Fujii comments on his winning entry:
This is an artwork that couldn’t have been realized without the cooperation of the performers and dozens of others who were involved. Through an artwork and a workshop recreating actual events from around 100 years ago, I want viewers to examine carefully the ways we are the same as people in the past, and the ways that we are different.
Of this year’s selection, the chair of the Nissan Art Award 2017 jury Fumio Nanjo explains:
What was impressive about the award this year was how all of the finalists sincerely confronted their works of art. Among them, Fujii’s artwork broaches an extremely complex period of Japanese history from around when the nation started to interact with other cultures, and then, through the means of a workshop, presents us with a strong message and questions. Responding also to the state of affairs in the world today, his superb work transcends cultures and nationalities to resonate with all kinds of people.
The Nissan Art Award Exhibition 2017
The five finalists were selected among 25 candidates, who were nominated for the first selection round in May of this year. The finalists then took part in at BankART Studio NYK in Yokohama, which runs from 16 September until 5 November 2017. The exhibition focuses on the diversity and range of media offered by its five participants, which spans from film, installation and photography. This year is especially significant, as the Nissan Art Award exhibition coincides with the Yokohama Triennale.
The work of finalist Yuichiro Tamura samples existing images, or his own photographs, to compose “new landscapes and narratives that transcend time and space by eliciting and reconstructing original relationships”. In 2011, his film Night Less – created only with images from Google Street View – won an Excellence Prize at the Art Division of the 14th Japan Media Arts Festival.
Tokyo-born Motoyuki Daifu explores the everyday in his work with a strong sense of irony, using images that traverse the ordinary and extraordinary. In contrast, Okinawan photographer Ishikawa captures portraits of Okinawan life – people, landscapes and streets – showing the multi-dimensional and layered landscape of contemporary Japan. Finally, Nami Yokoyama’s oil paintings of empty toilet rolls, chicken bones or telephone cards are imbibed with an inarticulable strangeness, as the banality of everyday objects is given stark representation in unnerving detail.
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