The current exhibition on at Watari-um, most commonly known as The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art is the acclaimed 'Reborn Art Festival’. This edition is located in the Shibuya neighborhood of Tokyo, while this year the summer edition was held in the city of Ishinomaki, just off of the Oshika Peninsula in Tohoku. The festival held opening ceremonies for it commencement on October 20, 2017, and will remain active until the closing date of December 10, 2017. Since it’s inception this festival was conceived for the celebration of art, music and food culture. The thematic objectives of the festival are to include the works of both domestic and international artist’s participation, to expose the audiences to new ideas, and to function as a meeting place where connections that might not have otherwise been made can come to fruition. The cross cultural exposure is to inspire new relationships and exchange of methods.
Multidisciplinary works are showcased in the gallery setting here, which show the contemporary trends in art making as well as a clear curatorial vision. Various mediums of artistic practice are on display here, including but not limited to: painting, performance, installation, sculpture, video, among others. The work that is showcased in this festival context can not be viewed in any other part of Japan, or the world. In this way, the conversation of site specific approach towards the location and experience specific encounters of both the artists and audience was weighed heavily in the decision towards realizing this festival. The notion of re-birth is explored within the viewer and also quite literally within the Tohoku region itself, which is undergoing revitalization after being devastated for years. Art has the power to change spaces and people, and ‘Reborn Arts Festival’ sets out to prove this.
Ishinomaki Nikkatsu Pearl Theater. Re-installation version in Watari-um Museum of Contemporary Art (2017). Courtesy of: Tachibana, kt245
The notion of re-birth is of importance, especially to the festival’s executive and production committees because it is an inspirational concept that through immersion in the arts and likeminded connections made in this kind of immersion, are ones that can feel like another life has started. When perspective is altered or shifted, if can often feel as though we are living in another reality. To be taken outside of comfort zones and to be put into territory of the unknown, especially when confronting new works of art in a new and unfamiliar place, it pushes people to grow. The power of these experiences can continue to influence the viewer long after the initial encounter of the art. And to be in the location of the festival during its brief duration is to form an affinity for a certain time and space.
Artists and groups whose presentations of work seemed to address the objectives of ‘Reborn Art Festival’ through consideration of the function the work would carry in perception of the viewers are evident in the following works. In collaborative sculptural installation, between Aiko Miyanaga The sea is born from the forest and Eiko Aiko is born from the forest an immediate tension is able to be indicated. Two seemingly separate works merge to provoke a dialogue. It reads with a poignant message of duality through addressing the multiple functions that are inherent to any situation, or circumstance. While there is strength, there is also weakness, and while there is nature, there is also the interaction of the human factor that needs to be considered as a variable.
Aiko Miyanaga ‘The sea is born from the forest’ (2017). Eiko Aiko ‘is born from the forest’ (2017). Courtesy of: Watari-um
Teppei Kaneuji Kim Tetsuhei’s White Discharge (Built-up Objects / Ishinomaki) # 1, # 2 posses a different set of considerations for the viewer. Confrontation of the repurposing of materials from building post Tohoku earthquake years previous, Tetsuhei creates a new structure. Large, monumental, with color protruding from the stark white of the re-appropriated materials. This work carries the narrative of a structure that once was, as it was resurrected to show people once again what was lost in the natural disaster. It is a confrontation to look at the damage, as well as an invitation to see the beauty and potential in what can be done in the wake of such events.
Teppei Kaneuji Kim Tetsuhei ‘White Discharge (Built-up Objects / Ishinomaki) # 1, # 2’ (2017). Courtesy of: Watari-um
And in the work of Ryoko Aoki, Zon Ito Aoki Ryuko, and Ito Yu Beach, Hands and Brains a site specific multimedia installation is evident. Together, the parts placed with much consideration throughout the space begin to describe the narrative of an re-accumulation of a dismembered body. Evocative of imagery seen in forensic labs, post mortem labs, among others. The materials present are titled as body parts, and at the same time they stand in for the actually body parts. Clay, twine, light, colored paper and stone are all materials which posses longer life spans than the human body. Two large slabs of clay are painted with loose resemblances of figurative forms. Akin to early ancestors, humans still strive for a way to describe their place in this world and to find meaning of their existence. In that way, one is reminded of impermanence, the fleeting nature of time, and the cyclical nature of life and death.
Ryoko Aoki, Zon Ito Aoki Ryuko, and Ito Yu ‘Beach, Hands and Brains’ (2017) Courtesy of: Watari-um
Additional programming this month includes tastings from various chefs, for which there will be limited tickets available. Consistent with the theme of the festival, the chefs are interested in serving dishes that describe the vitality of the place in which the dish came from. The process of cooking, and sharing of the food is very much a participatory performance in line with the thought of relational aesthetic ideology.
For more information, including ticketing, calendars, and special programming events this week, please visit: https://www.watarium.co.jp/exhibition/1710reborn_return/index.html
Reborn Art Festival Tokyo Edition Promotion (2017). Courtesy of: Watari-um Museum of Contemporary Art
Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.
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