Friday, October 13, 2017

(Aristotle, Oscar Wild, Paul Claudel, and Dante): Forests and Yokohama Triennale 2017

Reframe / Safe Passage, Ai Weiwei

In the year when American AA11 crushed into the World Trade Center of New York, the City of Yokohama started to have a triennial international art exhibition. 2017 is the year for the 6th Yokohama Triennale. In the previous shows, they had several installations connected with forest, like “Fogfalls #47670:Tales of Ugetsu” by Fujiko Nakaya.  Though, before I have never visited the event with “forest” or “nature” in mind. Now I am completing the training for Kanagawa Forest Instructor. I have at least some knowledge and experience about forest. To my surprise, it seems to me my adventure in forests so far has given me a new way to think the contemporary art in Yokohama Triennale. This week, I tell you what I’ve felt with this year’s show. It was like … very long way to be with Noh Theatre in Oyama Afuri Shrine

Project God-zilla
by Yanagi Yukinori
has also participated in
Yokohama Triennale 2017.

The subtitle of 2017 Yokohama Triennale is “Islands, Constellations & Galapagos.” According to the curator of the show, Akiko Miki, as this world is highly interconnected but people are forming tribal islands where the evolution of human psyche is similar to that of Galapagos, 

"The exhibition is structured like an aggregation of autonomous small solo shows, forming constellations of loosely-connected stars or archipelagos of scattered islands, and reflecting the ideas of fluidity and floating."
Akiko Miki, p. 72, The catalogue of Yokohama Triennale 2017 (October 2017, Organizing Committee of Yokohama Triennale) 

So, it’s rather easy to distinguish the installations that is talking about humans (or an artist) only, and the other works whose subject is something with nature (ocean, earth, forest, stars …). 2017 Triennale showed the works of Man Ray together with Miro, Ernst, Breton, and Tanguy as a kind of point zero for the evolution of arts defined as Islands, Constellations & Galapagos. The other works in this year’s Yokohama Triennale are descendants of these giants of the 20th Century. I noticed the world of these luminaries for the 20th century is something like a room with thick concrete walls. They are very different from Noh Theatre in Oyama Afuri Shrine. It should be difficult for sounds of a nearby stream coming in their universe. Before, when I saw the works of, say, Man Ray, I was like, “Wow, cool.” This time, I noticed the change in me … I had a kind of … suffocation. They are talking about THEIR things, nothing more. “Me, me, me.” Have the works of the 21st century artists in Triennale graduated from the predecessors’ self-obsession? They surely talk about global issues like alienation, isolation, ethnic confrontation, refugee crisis ... but, they look VERY anthropothene.

Trace Evidence,
Broomberg & Chanarin
Maurizio Cattelan
Green-light: an artistic workshop, Olafur Eliasson
yt/forty two,
Prabhavathi Meppayil
In Praise of Life, Susumu Kinoshita

Yes, some works pick up nature as their subject. Take “From Emissary Forks at Perfection” by Ian Cheng. It is a live simulation using computer graphics. The artist deliberately causes feelings of confusion, anxiety, and cognitive dissonance within us by constantly changing scenes over the large screen. The chosen scenery for this project is, grasslands and forests where many animals are hiding behind the “walls” of digital nature. How about “Wind-Light” by Naoya Hatakeyama? His panoramic photo depicts the devastation of 2011 Tsunami in Rikuzen-Takata City of Tohoku. Sam Durant tells the story when Commodore Mathew Perry visited Japan in 1853 represented by a desiccated tree. I don’t ask to make their art pretty with nature scenes. But forests don’t have to be a dystopia always, do they?

From Emissary Forks at Perfection, Ian Cheng
Front: a point in time, another point in the distance,
Sam Durant

Yokohama Triennale always has 2 little-brother events at BankArt Studio NYK and Koganecho Bazaar. There, I found a sort of explanation why artists dealt with the nature in that way. The theme of events at BankArt during the season of Yokohama Triennale 2017 is “A mysterious world of a forest, plants and the sea.” Along the bank of the canal, the artists created “Forest.” It looks like this;

Mysterious forest at BankArts,
Koro Ihara, Yoshiaki Kaihatsu, and the others

A third floor of BankArts Studio is the main exhibition space for several artists this year. The place was originally a warehouse for NYK Co. The building has only small windows and thick wall. The supply of sunlight is limited as we could find in the forest of coniferous trees, but it is difficult to find open atmosphere in BankArts. It is a space with the feeling of closed introversion. Lots of artificial flowers by Junko Maruyama are occupying the floor and the installations of the other artists are situated within them. Each art works represents the originality of artists, for sure, but the mystery coming from the “forest” is not from the forest but from humans. The forest in this case is represented by artificial pale white silk-flowers sticking to the concrete floor with a inorganic wire stem. That’s …

Flowers by Junko Maruyama
with a visual image created by Keisuke Takahashi
at the 3rd floor of BankArt
Big Wheel,Tatsuji Ushijima,
motored by solar power energy

In Koganecho Bazaar, the cinema production units YCAM Film Factory (= YCAM + Kuzoku 空族 + Studio Ishi) is showing a film “Senko-Issenri” (潜行一千里 “Secret Journey of 1000 miles”) that is the basis of their successful project BangkokNites. In it, a villager of Northern Thailand murmured “ Everybody gets out of this peaceful village of peach flowers to have more money …” The scenery projected on the screen is lush tropical green, and the camera was recording rickety journey of 4-wheel drive to a big city. OK. so that’s that. A very long journey is ahead of us to reach to the utopia suggested by SDG, if the contemporary artists are struggling in such world. I would say I could not find explosive power from those works of the artists of the 21st century, unlike the Noh theatre in Oyama created from the formalism established in the 15th century. Sad.

Welcome to the cinema world
of Kuzoku
The Other Side, Chim ↑ Pom,
talks straight about “building walls”
along the US-Mex border.
Book to Come (a part), Jun Bokyung

“Art not only imitates, but also completes it deficiencies.” Aristotle“Nature constantly imitates art.” Oscar Wild “Art imitates nature not in its effects as such, but in its causes, in its 'manner,' in its process, which are nothing but a participation in and a derivation of actual objects, of the Art of God himself.” Paul Claudel“Art imitates nature as well as it can, as a pupil follow his master; thus it is sort of a grandchild of God.” Dante

Yokohama Triennale 2017 and its younger brothers’ shows in BankArt and Koganeho will be held till November 5, 2017.

Senko-Issenri, YCAM Film Factory

Yokohama Triennale 2017: Islands, Constellations & Galapagos
August 4 – November 5, 2017 (Open for a total of 88 days), Closed on October 26
Main Venues: Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse No. 1, Yokohama Port Opening Memorial Hall (Basement)
Hours: 10:00-18:00, open until 20:30 on October 27-29, November 2-4

BankArt Life V-Kanko
August 4 – November 5, 2017
Venues: BankArt Studio NYK (3-9 Kaigan-dori, Naka-ku, Yokohama) and other locations

Koganecho Bazaar 2017: Double Façade_Multiple Ways to Encounter the Other
August 4 – November 5, 2017
Venues: Studios, neighborhood shops, outdoor areas, etc. beneath and along the Keikyu Railway, from Hinodecho Station to Koganecho Station

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