Friday, January 18, 2013

Art Setouchi Triennale 2013

I am fortunate enough to often get the chance to go to Naoshima and the beautiful Seto Inland Sea, and this year, from March to November, 2013 they are again hosting an event that should attract visitors.

Update: As David (merci!) notes in the comment section, the Triennale is held during three sessions: One in the Spring (March 20 - April 21), one in Summer (July 20 - September 1st) and Fall (October 5th - November 4th).

Easy access from Okayama. If you have never been to these parts of Japan, you are missing out!

First held in 2010, the Art Setouchi is now a much larger, more extended event with events being planned for a large number of locations and islands. Did I mention "events"?

List of participating artists here.

Setouchi Triennale Website (English) here.

You will get stuff like this:

Inujima Art House Project: S-Art House

An elongated gallery made of transparent acrylic panels appears behind a curve on the road in front of a tangerine orchard. An image of a one-dollar bill is delicately weaved in the center of a spider web made of lace that spans across the gallery. A careful examination reveals that the spider web is pierced by 13 arrows and is fraying around the edges. “Dollar Web Garden” expresses the idea that the financial chauvinism symbolized by the one-dollar bill is collapsing, and a new and beautiful multidimensional world is being weaved through the harmonious coexistence of the inhabitants and the village scenery with the surrounding environment.
 

Materials: “Dollar Web Garden”: Olive tree, 13 arrows, fabric (leavers lace), insects
Architectural Design: Kazuyo Sejima
Management: Naoshima Fukutake Art Museum Foundation

And, one of my favourites, Art House Project Minamidera:
 
This wooden architecture covered by pitch-dark burnt cedar boards is a brand new building designed by Tadao Ando. It tries to retain the memory that this temple located at this site used to function as a spiritual center for people. As you walk down the stone pavement approach and enter the building, you are faced with total darkness. (1999)

This should be a very memorable trip. The islands have their own history, with mines and explorations, and the memories of the exploitations of the 20th century close by.

Naoshima, the main art island, and the site of the largest museums and a great hotel, also hosts a large plant for rare earths, precious metals and gold and other mineral refineries at the Mitsubishi Materials plant, and as you take the ferry, you see their large chimneys that have been a part of this site since 1917.

The theme from 2013 includes "restoration of the sea" which seems very timely.

From time immemorial, the Seto Inland Sea has been an important nexus of transportation. Boats from the mainland came and went, bringing new cultures and lifestyles to the islands dotting the Sea. Since then, each island has formed and developed its own unique culture. This rich heritage, along with its beautiful scenery, is still around today, set against the backdrop of tradition. However, in today’s globalizing world, with increasing homogenization and streamlining, the islands are losing their unique characteristics because of the aging and decreasing of the population on the islands and the decline of the local area’s vitality.

At the same time, Mitsubishi Materials is making all kinds of CSR promises for the future:

Our Corporate Philosophy here at the Mitsubishi Materials Group is to do our bit "for people, society and the earth." The Great East Japan Earthquake made me appreciate the true meaning of that philosophy more than ever. As a corporate group, we are committed to continually overcoming social issues and making a lasting contribution, so that we can help maintain sustainable development throughout society. I believe this is the best way to repay the trust that our shareholders have placed in us, whilst at the same time growing as a group. I hope that we can continue to rely on the support and understanding of all of our stakeholders in the future.

As far as I can see, we are heading into some very tricky territory. In the recent James Bond film, Skyfall, we get a taste of Gunkanjima in Nagasaki, that used to be a Mitsubishi coal mine from 1887 to 1974.

It was suddenly abandoned (back then, there was not much interest in "sustainable development"). I wonder why these corporations can continue to manage to survive.

Quite tellingly, the "Mitsubishi Materials Corporate History" pages end at around 2005, some 7 or 8 years ago.

Maybe there is no connection. Who pays for all of this? Meanwhile, art - that seems to me to create bridges across centuries or even thousands of years, as some civilizations have been swept off the surface of our planet, yet leaving amazing legacies behind - is now reduced to "projects" and "installations" and did I mention "events" and whatnot.

The 2013 triennial also promises to consider the aged people who reside on the Setouchi Islands, who have fished and farmed and survived typhoons and harsh winters.

As Japan has a low birthrate, it seems like a perfect focus for an event like this, as we need to consider all options for the future.

A great place to go for some amazing sights.

And, I just like this, " the idea that the financial chauvinism symbolized by the one-dollar bill is collapsing, and a new and beautiful multidimensional world is being weaved through the harmonious coexistence of the inhabitants and the village scenery with the surrounding environment."


2 comments:

David Billa said...

If I may add a few details, the Triennale won't be held non-stop from March to November (I wish), but during three sessions.
One in the Spring (March 20 - April 21), one in Summer (July 20 - September 1st) and Fall (October 5th - November 4th).

Also, while I do advise to visit Naoshima, I think it's a mistake to visit it during the Triennale. The art on Naoshima is permanent and can be seen at any time, while most of the art of the other islands is temporary and can be seen only during the Triennale (of course if you have the time, the best is to go to Naoshima and the other islands, but if choices have to be made, maybe it's more interesting to visit other places then, and Naoshima on the years when the Triennale is not being held).

Also Mitsubishi Materials has no link whatsoever with the Setouchi Triennale. It is managed by the Benesse Foundation (which is itself controlled by the Benesse Corporation).

"Restoration of the Sea" is the theme of the Triennale every time, not just this once, as its main goal is to revive the islands that are in danger of disappearing (without it, some of them could become ghost islands in a decade or two).

In any case, this is an event not to be missed this year.

Martin J Frid said...

Thanks David, I have updated the information about the three sessions, much appreciated.