Reexamining “Power of Art,” 15 Years on
Mori Art Museum, Tokyo in 2003 staged the inaugural exhibition “HAPPINESS: A Survival Guide for Art and Life,” which as the title indicates took as its theme “happiness,” something of importance to us all. Then in 2013, commemorating the Museum’s 10th anniversary, another universal theme had its turn in the spotlight: “love,” in “All You Need Is LOVE: From Chagall to Kusama and Hatsune Miku.” Now, by deliberately setting out to tackle the theme of “catastrophe,” this exhibition marking 15 years of the Mori Art Museum asks what art can do in the face of the mounting challenges of today’s world.
A Range of Works that Connect with Communities through Art, to Facilitate Change
One feature of contemporary art is “its potential to improve society,” and one aspect of this attracting particular attention recently, including in Japan, is “socially engaged art” (SEA) where artists stage interventions in communities with the aim of bringing about change in society via their work and practice. Presenting numerous examples of outstanding art with a social message, including audience participatory works by the likes of Yoko Ono and Miyajima Tatsuo, “Catastrophe and the Power of Art” will contemplate the possibilities of art as a force for change.
Showcasing Numerous Works Passing down the Memories of 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake So that It “Shall Not Be Forgotten”
The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake brought dramatic changes to Japanese society, and also had a major impact on Japan’s contemporary art world. Seven years on however, perhaps our experiences and memories of the disaster are beginning to deteriorate, while on the other hand, in some areas recovery is not progressing as well as first envisaged. Presenting works by around ten artists including Chim ↑ Pom, Thomas Demand, and Ikeda Manabu, this exhibition aims to remind people of the experience and reignite discussion.
Works by around 40 Artists/Units from Superstars of the Contemporary Art Firmament to Remarkable Young Artists, and Artists Showing in Japan for the First Time
“Catastrophe and the Power of Art” will present works by an impressive array of artists both Japanese and overseas, ranging from well-established practitioners like Thomas Hirschhorn, Mona Hatoum, Isaac Julien, Hatakeyama Naoya, and Miyamoto Ryuji - all veterans of some of the world’ s most prestigious contemporary art festivals, including the Venice Biennale and Documenta - to street art star Swoon as well as up-and-coming talent such as Kato Tsubasa and Hirakawa Kota. Look out also for artists making their Japanese debut, including Hiwa K and Helmut Stallaerts.
Launching “Pre-Discussion Series” Prior to the Actual Exhibition
In the belief that when studying the relationship between disaster and contemporary art, it is essential to consider real-life cases, experiences and discourses, five talks collectively dubbed a “Pre-Discussion Series” are run before the show opens. So far, four talks have been held (with the themes “The Possibilities for Art in Disasters,” “Using Photography and Film to Express Catastrophe: Documenting, Artistry, Morals,” “Twenty Some Years after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake: Experiencing and Inheriting” and “Fukushima 2011-2018” respectively), and the fifth talk with the theme of “Art or Activism?” are to be underway in July this year. Discussions involving a range of guest speakers such as experts, specialists, other interested parties and artists will not only be presented at the venue as part of the exhibition, but published in the exhibition catalogue as well. During the exhibition, we also plan to hold a symposium recapping these discussions.