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A review of the works of artist macoto yanagisawa

These are movements that have been largely missed in global curatorial debates. In his work, Kester identifies five distinctive features of collaborative artwork: Not everyone sees them this way: Kitagawa himself, who is of an older generation, does not see himself as an artist or his organizational work as art. Nakamura, on the other hand, does. The significance of these large-scale art projects is remote from the concerns and assumptions that dominate discussions of theory in North American and European art education, curation, and art criticism.

But viewed sociologically, as experiments in organizational form on a sometimes huge social scale, I believe some of these projects can be seen as constituting an extraordinary new form of artwork. It is more than a little perplexing, then, that it is almost impossible to trace any awareness of Japanese SEA in the international literature on relational, participatory, site specific, or socially engaged art. Kenji Kajiya has written about the development of both the form of the art project and the term.

These were more than outdoor contemporary exhibitions: This fact has created another barrier to the international critical acknowledgement of art projects in Japan, parallel to the broader critique SEA often faces in international art theory. That said, there are genuine issues raised by the criticism. And there is a distinct whiff of political co-optation hovering around many of the art projects embraced as part of community rebuilding since the triple disasters of March 2011.

These concerns need to be foregrounded, but they also need to be weighed against the diversity of specific projects.

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This is not just a matter of context, but a point where contemporary SEA in Japan can be seen to make a unique contribution to wider international debates, as a forerunner of similar trends elsewhere. That is to say, this body of work, collectively speaking, has an organic relevance to diagnosing and addressing the condition of post-growth societies: By 2005, the population itself had started to shrink and grey, with an unprecedented proportion of very old people.

These kinds of social and structural facts provide a certain backdrop for any art that intends to be socially engaged. As we will see, this situation has provided the conditions, contexts, and raw human materials for the kinds of large-scale initiatives pursued since 1990 by visionary artists and art organizers in remote or marginal regional and urban locations. Notably, though, these developments were not at all registered until recently in global understandings of contemporary art from Japan.

Broadly speaking, even mainstream contemporary art in the country has now taken a sharp and salutary turn towards critical social engagement, something which has begun to also register internationally, in the light of numerous exhibitions. Corresponding to the proliferation of exhibitions, there has been a surge in critical production, emphasizing resurgent political concerns and new social forms of artistic expression.

I cannot discuss the entirety of this history in detail here, but a list of some of the most prominent projects and organizations, with some of the leading figures associated with them, is a useful start. The landscape of Echigo-Tsumari in Niigata, Japan. Photo by author] The most visible projects and organisations would include: The artist Yamaide excepted, most of these figures are older generation art organizers born in the 1940s or 1950swhose organizational innovations would not be normally be classified as forms of conscious collaborative art practice.

Echigo-Tsumari is the most emblematic of these large-scale projects developed in the 2000s. It is a classic heartland of Japan, famed for a review of the works of artist macoto yanagisawa rice production and its terraced rice fields, but suffering vertiginous population decline and crumbling infrastructure. It is, like many areas of Japan, full of abandoned houses and derelict fields; but also empty schools, factories, and even hospitals, with roads sometimes tunneled through mountains leading nowhere.

Its villages are overwhelmingly populated by very old residents, many of whom are former farming families now unable to tend their land. In the late 1990s, the art producer Kitagawa Fram was recruited to create an art festival, whose aims were to generate some spark of tourism-led revitalization as well as connecting recently unified local governments. He was also a well-respected, internationally-connected curator. Nevertheless, it was almost impossible to convince local politicians and especially local residents of the benefits of bringing contemporary art or, in particular, difficult contemporary artists, to their remote localities.

Yet with persistence and persuasion, he convinced some municipalities to let artists work with them. The first Triennale in 2000 launched a series that was initially based on siting public art in remote locations, to be found by visitors as a kind of treasure hunt through villages, across fields, and up mountains. Over the years, this has extended to over two a review of the works of artist macoto yanagisawa sites, many of which involve repurposed abandoned houses, schools, and other empty buildings.

Involving numerous international figures, countless Japanese artists, and thousands of volunteers, the Triennale has expanded to become one of the largest contemporary art events in the world, as well as a paradigmatic example of the social ambitions of Japanese art projects. While many individual works or projects only remained in place for one iteration of the festival, the ones that have continued over a few triennials were, and are, long duration, unpredictable, and open-ended social experiments bringing artists and many young people—typically, art student volunteers—into contact with older residents in half-empty village locations, many nestled deep in the mountains.

Hibino visits the village a number of times a year for events and to reconnect, independent of the Triennale schedule.

This and many other of the long-running initiatives fit well into paradigms of conversational and collaborative art, while their long-running nature, unsure beginnings and ends, and lack of high-brow theorization put them well outside even the most expanded idea of the commercial or museum system.

Many visitors experience the Triennale as being about more than the collection of artworks alone: That is also part of the point. Kitagawa, who never saw himself as an artist, was in effect using art as a massive tool of social intervention and transformation: By any account, it is a remarkable vision of what art can be and do.

This paradigm change becomes even more significant as the emphasis of artworks at these rural art projects have shifted from made-in-situ objects to the re-utilization of abandoned buildings.

Socially Engaged Art in Japan: Mapping the Pioneers

Arriving in Tokyo for university in 1965 he was swept up into student politics as an activist and radical, protesting American bases in the country. Part of his reorientation enabled him to cultivate links with an enlightened segment of corporate Japan in order to push forward a progressive agenda amidst a void in social commitment by mainstream government, which, as in much of the developed world since the 1980s, has embraced austerity towards welfare provision and increasing social inequality.

One prominent example is Yamano Shingo, who was inspired by constructivism as a young artist and who abandoned Tokyo in the 1970s to become an arts organizer in the regional capital of Fukuoka. He led a public arts initiative called the Museum City Project, which began in 1990 and ran for many years, gathering cooperation and support from corporate sponsors in the absence of public government support.

This way of supporting public art was experimental at the time, developing new modes of public collaboration and spatial intervention in the city, eliciting support from and feeding back into the lively local culture of alternative art spaces.

Yanagi graduated from art school in the mid-1980s to almost immediate international acclaim for his technically accomplished installation works, which critiqued at once Japanese and American nationalism, integrating easy a review of the works of artist macoto yanagisawa references such as iconic Japanese toys and Disney while also expressing a cosmopolitan rejection of nationalism. After filling boxes of colored sand representing different flags of the world and connecting them with tubes, he released large desert ants whose movements slowly mixed up the sand.

One morning in 1995, when Yanagi was already tiring of his then-booming commercial career in New York, he landed his sailboat on a remote, formerly industrial island in the Seto Inland Sea. Aerial view of Inujima Art Project, Seirensho 2008. Copper refinery site conversion and museum, Inujima island, Setouchi. Photo by Izumiyama Road. Through his work on Inujima and other a review of the works of artist macoto yanagisawa on large post-industrial sites, in the city of Hiroshima and on another depopulating island called Momoshima, Yanagi has developed a singular aesthetics of social art intervention imagined on a vast scale, built around his installations and re-workings of old buildings, embedded always in complex local negotiations with both local authorities and desperately old and vulnerable local residents.

Architect ISOZAKI Arata may have foreseen this future already as a disillusioned Metabolist in the early 1960s when he so eloquently wrote in the notes accompanying his artwork Incubation Process 1962 that all economic development contains within itself its own ruins. Three brilliant examples amongst the younger generation spring to mind: Though already large-scale, when set against the onset of demographic decline, the abandonment of provincial locations, concentration of capital in the centre, growing political apathy, and massive environmental damage, these post-industrial projects take on an even greater grandeur.

For young artists and creators, one can also speculate that the long-running weakness of Japanese art institutions when it comes to supporting contemporary art by Japanese artists contributes to the popularity of these alternative contexts.

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Artists started working off the map in a way much less possible in the U. Another mode of artwork makes the social work itself i. Here, I would like to focus on Nakamura Masato born 1963currently the director of 3331 Arts Chiyoda, as a central figure in developing such social aesthetics, beginning in the 1990s. Courtesy of 3331 Arts Chiyoda] As with other figures mentioned thus far, the scale and ambition of his work is immense. These include local events such as TransArt Tokyo, an annual street and neighborhood based festival; and remote ones, such as the huge WaWa Project, which has been one the largest on-going frameworks for artist involvement with, and documentation of, the post-Fukushima disasters.

Each of his projects involves complex and often experimental ventures into public logistics, lobbying, and coordination. At the time of his 2015 retrospective exhibition at 3331, Luminous Despair, Nakamura himself underlined that they could be read in their totality as a type of organizational art work.

A review of the works of artist macoto yanagisawa

Photo by Takeda Ryosuke. Courtesy of 3331 Arts Chiyoda] Nakamura acknowledges the important inspiration for his projects in the work of Hibino Katsuhiko discussed above and Fuji Hiroshi: The events are usually linked with educational initiatives like earthquake preparedness that integrate into the currency system of the bazaar. Certainly it is possible to see the continuities in his work. In 1997, at the Tokyo gallery, SCAI the Bathhouse, Nakamura had installed neon lighting panels representing the colors of four convenience store conbini trademarks, some of the most instantly recognizable urban signs in Japan.

On the one hand, the visual appearance and the courtship with commercialism in these works link them to neo-pop, but on the other, the true breakthrough with the conbini work was the complex negotiation and intense persuasion with four reluctant international corporations necessary to achieve the installation as a work of art. Courtesy of Nakamura Masato and 3331 Arts Chiyoda] In 1997, Nakamura finally succeeded in getting all the major convenience store companies at once to let him use their powerful brand icons.

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The international art world response was apathetic. Perhaps the brand—arguably the single strongest commercial icon of modern capitalism—was too powerful to become anything other than itself within his artistic process or the exhibition space. Yet again, what was key was the negotiation process that made the work possible; it was this process that Nakamura subsequently developed as a core feature of his practice.

Accordingly, his work around the turn of the millennium was changing. In the Akihabara TV project 1999he was already negotiating with the owners of consumer electronic stores in Akihabara to display experimental video works by 25 artists on the display TVs in their shops, inserting art work into the flow of everyday commerce.

But crucially, he consciously frames it as artistic activity. There is also an interesting contrast with his old partner, Murakami. In this project, Zerodate, he is bringing his organizational approach to the conversion of an abandoned department store.

Plans here involve the recruitment of teams of young a review of the works of artist macoto yanagisawa leaders to create a sustainable form of intervention over time, as well as extensive programs of both visiting and local arts and crafts.

Look at the documentation of the many public panel discussions hosted by any of the remarkable art organizations discussed here, and the tale is likely to be the same: Socially engaged public art projects in Japan, the kind with large organizations, major funding, and the ability to mobilize large numbers of volunteers, it seems, are led by middle-aged men, invariably visionaries with driven personalities.

Some seem almost like characters from a Werner Herzog film, with devoted schools and followers of their own.

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It is very much the same with other leading artists: On the other hand, there are many prominent female curators and gallery owners. It is a highly gendered story. The reason for this would be well worth debating. Tanaka is a conversationalist, not an empire builder. Duke University Press, 2011. Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship London: The comprehensive survey volume and exhibition, Nato Thompson, editor, Living as Form: MIT Press, 2012 contains one Japanese artist out of about 100 presentedShimabuku, whose social interventions and practice since the 1995 Kobe earthquake would certainly merit discussion here.

Hiroshima City University, 2010pp. Arts Council, 2015a summary of a complete published report in Japanese.

Kamel Mennour, 2010pp.