Thursday, July 9, 2009

interview: Kukiko Nobori

On the occasion of her visit to Poland to represent  Japanese Pavilion during Alternative Biennale I talk to Kukiko Nobori, an independent researcher, about Japanese contemporary art and alternative art spaces.

MR: There's been this debate going on in ARTiT magazine about what is Japanese contemporary art.I would like to ask you the same question - what is Japanese contemporary art and how is it different? Is there anything like japanese-ness in art?
KN: As I have read articles and interviews, or talked with artists in Japan, it seems that some of them are rather conscious about the japanese-ness in their works, but some of them really do not care if they are from Japan and even reject to be categolize as such.
I think now it seems uncomfortable to claim the nationality in contemporary art.
MR: Coming to Japan one have an impression that there are top-notch Contemporary Art Centers/Museum at 'every corner' but not much alternative spaces. I was wondering why is it so, couldn't I just find them as they are so underground or there is no antiestablishment attitude whatsoever?KN: The structure of so-called Japanese contemporary art world is different from that in the West, so it is difficult to define what the 'alternatives' are.
However I think there are many activities organized by artists outside of 'establishments' and museums. The visibility of those activities are less than those in the major contemporary art centres or museums, but once you get involved, it's easy to follow, I think.
MR: It is said that exhibitions become media that reflect condition of contemporary society. What do the exhibitions made in Japan tell us about Japanese society?KN: It was an interesting phenomenon last year that an exhibition of Buddhist statues ('The National Treasure ASHURA and Masterpieces from Kohfukuji') in Tokyo got high attentions from wider audiences and it recorded 946,173 visitors. Some analyzes its big hit according to the way they showed ASHURA as a 'character'.

Who's hot in Japan right now?
KN: Tetsuya Umeda, Ilcommons (i'm not sure if he wants to be called an artist though), Yodogawa Technique

MR: 7 sins of Japanese contemporary art
KN: Complex attitude and feeling towards 'West', failure to communicate with general public, lack of criticism, lack of structural assistance.

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