Nakate: Welcome and Museum of Picture Book Art, August 12

Today we took a local bus to Nakate village, and walked up hill to get to the art project entitled Welcome (T-398) by Cameroon artist Barthélémy Toguo. We passed a well where we could get a sip of delicious cold water. Further up, even those arriving by car were asked to get out of the car and walk 1.5 km through forest and along rice paddies before arriving at the artwork.

 
However, the artist had made sure everyone could take a rest on the way: a number of stools with colourful patterns were placed along the way.

 


The view over the rice fields of the valley was amazing. The road became a narrow path through the forest, leading to the waterfall Kurotaki. The artist has placed a number of sculptures in an opening in the forest: they resemble chairs, and packages and suitcases on top of some of the chairs seem to refer to travel.


But many of the chairs are too tall to sit on for a human being, so the title “Welcome” also has a somewhat ambiguous meaning in these days of worldwide refugee and migration issues. The artist had placed packages on a bench at the viewing platform in front of the waterfall (which did not have a lot of water due to lack of rain in the area).

We walked downhill again and arrived at the former school in Nakate, now turned into Tashima Seizo’s Museum of Picture Book Art (T-173). Visitors could enter the building by walking through a tunnel-like construction of bamboo and wooden boards, constructed in the shape of a large snake winding itself around in the garden. This artwork entitled Outside Me, Inside Me, Deep Down Inside (T-397) is made by Tashima Seizo together with American/Japanese artist Arthur Binard. Inside the “snake”, hundreds of small frog-like figures made of painted cloth hang down from the ceiling.


Once inside the Museum of Picture Book Art, sculptures of painted driftwood and sticks form vivid tableaus that fill the space of the former gymnasium of the school, as well as many of the former classrooms.

 

The main artist in this project is Tashima Seizo, a well-known picture book author in Japan, popular with children and adults alike. His colourful and expressive line and dynamic figures expand over full spreads. His collaborator, Arthur Binard, has translated some of Tashima’s books into English. The museum was established in 2009 as a means to transfer the two-dimensional universe of his books into three-dimensional space. The many figures resemble human figures, for example the last three students of the school, or monsters, such as the laughter-eating monster or the dream-destroyer monster. The Japanese title of the museum, Ehon to konomi no bijutsukan, also refers to nuts, and in several of the rooms, shells of acorns are stuck into the wall to form large patterns, while at other places, seed capsules of various kind hang from the ceiling along with coloured sticks.

 

In the evening, we witnessed the performance event Bacca*Gohgi Hachi Festival 2018 (E-065) on the open space in front of the museum. It was a combination of poem recital by Arthur Binard and Tashima Seizo, accompanied by the voice artist Shizzle Otaka. The band Asian Wings played on a variety of instruments of different cultural origin. The stage decoration consisted of a phallic snake with light inside pulled to the top of a flag pole.
 

After the concert, the event turned into the local village bon-odori, where many village people as well as visitors joined the dance. An old lay from the village sang the lead voice, while three other elderly people accompanied. In the warm darkness of the mountain night, this was a truly unique experience.

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Kinare: Hōjōki Shiki 2018, August 10

The Echigo-Tsumari Satoyama Museum of Contemporary Art KINARE is located in the centre of Tōkamachi. The museum has a permanent collection, and for each new edition of Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, they present a new curated exhibition. This year the exhibition is entitled Hōjōki Shiki 2018: The Universe of Ten Foot Square Huts by Architects and Artists. The title refers to a diary or record Hōjōki written by the 12th century nobleman from Kyoto, Kamo no Chōmei, who moved away from the courtly city into the mountains and lived in a hut of only 10 square foot in size. Chōmei’s record describes famine, earthquakes, and other disasters in Kyoto at the time. In the 18th century, the Buddhist monk Ryokan also isolated himself in a small hut as his hermitage, and survived on charity. And in the post-war era of the 20th century, the novelist Hotta Yoshie emulated Chōmei’s ideas and wrote about the chaos and disorder of the world. All three layers of poetic references are transformed into the exhibition by a number of cubes in the size of 10 square feet, or 4,5 (tatami mat), or 2,73 m x 2,73 m. The cubes are placed in the open area around the pool in the middle of Kinare’s court yard.


Each cube is conceived and made by different architects, artists and designers. According to the concept of the exhibition, the idea of using the same standardized size of space refers to the impact of efficiency, rationalization and homogenization on all regions of the world. At the same time, the individual designs of the space contain contemporary artists’, architects’ own view, and their proposal for how space can be utilized in the present day conditions. Here are some of the many cubes on display.

  

One cube was made to resemble a traditional tatami mat room with sliding doors. Entitled Asobibox (T-353), it had an interactive digital display inside on the floor and on one of the walls. Small dots of light would come down the wall (like snowflakes), and if you touched the dot with your hand, it would unfold and become a flower or firework.

 
Another playful cube is asobiba / mimamoriba (T-355) by Inoue Yui, made as a crochet net of blue and white circles, and with holes and hollows inside. Only small children were allowed inside, though.

 
The design group all(zone)ltd from Thailand has created Light House 4.0: The Art of Living Lightly at Echigo-Tsumari (T-356). The cube is made of a thin grid structure covered with a transparent net, and inside, a bed and a few piece of furniture along with some household objects in neon colours provided the reference to a living space.

 
The work A Sheep’s Hair Salon (T-357) by OkaFujiIshi had a different shape: rather than the cube format, this work was made by felt wool and shaped like a cone. Inside is a hair salon where you can get a haircut – perhaps as an allusion to how sheep also get their hair cut in order to produce wool. The salon was not open when I visited, but the cut-off pieces of human hair sticking to the inside of the woollen hut was a rather uncanny visual experience.

 
The work Soba Shop Warisugi Tei (T-358) by Jiro Ogawa and Atelier Simsa is a small soba noodle stand made entirely of disposable wooden ohashi (chopsticks). The playful attitude of building a large structure of small elements from an everyday context sets off against the environmental issues of disposable objects: think of all the trees that have been cut down to make chopsticks for the millions of fast-food or take-away meals served in Japan every day.

 
The design group KIGI created Yoigoma – The Standing Sake Bar (T-360), where the visitor (after paying 600 Yen) could taste one of the local saké brands from Tsunan Jōzō brewery. The visitor is invited to through a set of dices, which then decides the size of the cup and the quality of the saké. The cups were very special and beautiful: almost flat, with only one pointed tip in the bottom, made of wood and decorated with different colourful circles on each. Because of the shape, you have to hold the cup in your hand while someone else will pour the saké (which is part of a politeness ritual when drinking in Japan). You also have to drink all the saké at once, since it is difficult to put your cup down. I was lucky when I threw the dices: not only did I get to drink of the largest size of cup; I also got to taste a very high quality saké.

 
Another work also contained a bar: Karaoke and Humankind (T-362) is a small bar made to resemble one of the bars on the main street of Tōkamachi, and staffed by a real bar owner from the town. Visitors buy a drink and can sing a karaoke song for 500 Yen. The inside of the box is covered with red velvet and there is a small counter, some drink ingrediences and a karaoke box.

 
Guardian Bird’s Society
(T-364) is made to resemble a large predatory bird, with the roof opening up to resemble giant wings, and a bird’s head and a pair of claws on the front on each side of the door. The entire surface of the cube is made of pieces of dark cedar tree bark that resemble layers of feathers. Inside on the tatami floor is a game of mahjong next to a tomato plant growing in the windowsill. The large predatory bird is made to function as a “scarecrow” in the fields or gardens in the Echigo-Tsumari region, and represents a counter-measure against birds and pest in agriculture.

 
Chinese artist Xiang Yang created Transfiguration House (T-366) out of old discarded furniture and household objects, many of them associated with weaving. The house itself is made by beautifully joined wood, and from three of the sides, a long glass case extended outward. The glass cases contain a number of thin threads in different colours that are stretched to follow a design pattern on the end of the case. The threads make up a fascinating transparent three-dimensional curtain.

 
Next to it is another project relating to textile, namely Dominique Perrault Architecture (from France), who made Drape House (T-374), featuring a mixture of natural and artificial material.

 
Another French architectural team made Mind [e] scape (T-371), a space defined by four plastic bags with water and contains a strange net of white rubber threads that absorbs sounds. The sounds are played back from a computer.

 
The project Hojoki Assembling Machine (T-375) by Maeda Corporation has the shape of a greenhouse, and contains a number green plants as well as colourful cut-outs representing different objects and scenes from the Echigo-Tsumari area. The cube represents a miniature of the city, but also functions as a metaphor for the greenhouse effect due to global warming.

 
The Taiwanese artist David Wang made miniature drama laboratory entitled Secrets of Performance: Know Yourself (T-380). The visitor can use the small rehearsal space to create different characters and record it. Apparently, the space provides an experience of the close relationship between “appearance” and “performance”. A collage of photos on the outside wall show the artist himself performing different identities.

While I was in Kinare, a brass band and a group of young dancers, the Mezurashii Kinoko, came into the open space and performed music and dance. Their performance added even more colour and life to the space. The performance was also a teaser for the event I was to join the following evening at Nunogawa Campus. More about this later.

 

 

 

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Matsudai area, northern part, August 8

Today we continued with our rental car to the more remote parts of Matsudai area, north of Matsudai station. Compared to many of the “older” artworks (from 2000) we saw yesterday, the artworks today were of more recent dates and therefore signify how the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale has developed over the years. Most of the art projects we visited today are installed in akiya, empty or abandoned farmhouses that have been repaired or restored to a certain degree. The first place to visit was the small village of Kiriyama, where three houses have been turned into art projects.


One of them is BankART Tsumari (D-325). The Yokohama-based art organisation BankART, who together with the architect unit Mikan have renovated a house and turned it into an art gallery and office work space for about 50 artists. There is a lot of cool hanging-out space in the house, but not a lot of hospitality in terms of welcoming visitors to the house and perhaps offering a few words of introduction. In addition, most of the artworks did not seem to engage with the site or local community in Kiriyama village, except one artist (the name was not indicated). The artist has painted a landscape view in kitschy picturesque style directly on the white wall that represents a house or a group of trees that you can see in real life from the window next to the painting.

 


Next door is the art project House of Swings (D-266) by Finnish artist Maaria Wirkkala. The large space in the middle of the house is open up to the second floor ceiling, and the artist has hung a large number of golden zōri (straw sandals) under the ceiling in rows of three pairs. The house itself is very beautiful, with the old dark wooden structure visible and the original butsudana and tokonoma still intact. Three or four swings made of a wooden plank moving gently back and forth in a smaller room in the back. A glass of water is placed on top of each swing (-but no spilling).

 

On the second floor, the artist has inlaid a number of small images into the black clay wall. Most of them small reproductions from European Renaissance art history, but also some from Japanese art history. She has also placed a cut-out of a pair of eyes next to some gold dust and a brush, a reference to the techniques of gilding. The artist has also used several old artefacts such as a sewing machine as well as folk craft such as straw boots and baskets.


The third art house in Kiriyama is designed by French artist Claude Lévêque, and the title of the work is In the Silence or in the Noise / Semaphores’ Garden (D-209). Outside the house, some thick silver foil sheets on a pole would reflect and distort the surroundings. Inside in the dark house, the artist has put a rock on the tatami floor and directed red light towards it, while in another room, the artist has used taue-waku, a frame device used in the old days for rice planting. On the second floor, a round cylinder of plastic sheets contained a small pond from which small cloud of mist emerged.
 


The next akiya-turned-into-art-project we encountered was Pine Tourism (D-348) by the Japanese-French artist group Pine Tree Club. No one has lived in the house since 1988, and the artists had done several things to highlight some of the old objects still there. Further, they have also installed a number of deck chairs around in the house to suggest the house as a resting place to hang out, as well as other traces of their interference in the place. Most importantly, five monitors placed around in the house show what appears to be life feed from each of the five artist’s own apartment or studio, where you can watch them read in a book, hang up laundry, or use their smart phone. In this way, the different geographical and social spaces are connected. There was also a video camera that probably was supposed to record live from the akiya back to the five artists, but this did not seem to work. In one room, a video monitor with one large eye of an old person looks as you.
 

The next building we visited was a former school, Shimizu Elementary School. The building included an archive of Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale materials, as well as a café where we had a set of o-nigiri each and a nice cup of ice coffee before entering the exhibition area. Here, artist Kawamata Tadashi and French edition.north have collaborated on the work Art Fragment Collection (D-347). The space contained a large diorama platform made of plywood to represent the six areas of Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale. Actual objects and fragments of former Echigo-Tsumari art works are placed on the platform, and artists’ sketches on the walls. Other artefacts from former displays float from the ceiling.
 For example, you can see a number of the straw boats that featured at Kinare museum in 2015, and some of Isobe’s yellow flagpoles. There are paper lanterns from a former exhibition, and remains from the ideas of the Giant Gardener. Small scale models of Ilya and Emilia Kabakov’s farmer silhouettes. A collection of fans. Electric wire and used nuts and bolts. Even the smallest thing seem to gain a significance in this space.

 
 

 
This is a museum of art fragments, recycled into modes of memories for those who revisit the triennale. It is also an ethnographic encounter of how artworks at the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale are conceived, produced and dismantled. A truly fascinating art project that seems to be able to expand in the future (-which I hope it will).


The next house was an art project entitled Where the spiritual shadow descends (D322) by Ōmaki Shinji. We were guided up the stairs to second floor of the old house, completely (or almost completely) darkened by blinds. We sat on a bench and watched some soap bubbles ascend from the space below while being lit.

Around the same area, we encountered another work by the Finish artist Maaria Wirkkala. In the village of Horinouchi, Wirkkala has installed gilded hats on the outside of many of the houses of the village. The hats resemble satellite dishes, although different colour and material. In the evening, a light in the middle of the “dish” will make the golden surface glow, and somehow the hats contribute to a network of villagers joined together in the art project. Even though we walked through the village in daytime, it was clear that many houses had the “hat” outside and in this way signalled a commitment (or at least an interest) in the art triennale.


We visited an outdoor art project entitled Fox Terraced Paddy Field Project 2018 (D-346) by Ishimatsu Takeyoshi. It is a construction of a number of small rice paddies in the shape of a fox head on a rather steep slope below a small shrine called Suberanai jinja, “shrine against landslides”. The view from here is fantastic, but the project itself seems a bit underdeveloped, for example that there is only one rice plant in each of the small paddies.
 


The next akiya art project is Les spectres de la maison Tsunné (D-328) by Annette Messager. The artist has made a number of soft sculpture versions of everyday tools in large scale and painted them black before suspending them from the ceiling. Most of the tools are also objects that have a sharp or violent appearance, such as a pair of scissors, a needle, a knife. In the old butsudana, the artist has placed a facemask with a red smear that resembles a trace of a lipstick kiss. On another wall, the artist has placed a doll made of green fabric and a some black threads leading to an image of a woman on a newspaper that was used as wallpaper. This, we learn from the young male volunteer guide at the site, is a reference to women’s conditions and abortion.


We went on into the mountain areas to reach the art project The Day after Tomorrow Newspaper Cultural Department (D-103). It is a former school turned into a centre for Japanese artist Hibino Katsuhiko’s many art projects with local communities all over Japan.
 
Already back in 2003, the project developed a local newspaper, typeset with handwriting, and with images and reportage of local events. The newspaper is still in print (weekly). The former school building contains documentation of other of Hibino’s art projects, including the most recent one, a cardboard box score board registering the soccer matches that Japan has played in the Soccer World Championship in Russia. Other projects include collecting seeds from different localities in Japan.

Outside in the village there is a number of colourful banners on bamboo poles. They are made by schoolchildren and feature images associated with different countries in the world (mostly Asian countries).

Following a path up the mountain, you reach Gallery Happy Seven (D-326), a small exhibition space in a restored kura (warehouse). The space featured a number of drawings by Hibino of hand sign language.

The last akiya art project for today was Doctor’s House (D-330), installed by the Korean artist Lee Bul. It is a large house, which seems to have housed not only the local doctor and his family, but also had an office and rooms for patients. The corridors and sliding doors on the ground floor are covered with silver foil, providing a disrupted kind of reflection. Inside one of the rooms, an installation features some small elegant and futuristic sculptures embedded into a glass case in the floor, and equipped with mirrors in the bottom that makes up an endless space in which the object can be seen in endless repetition. Another room on the second floor has silver foil cut in pieces and placed back together on wall, floor and ceiling. The unevenness of the surface of the silver foil makes the reflections appear diffracted and provides an interesting contrast to the straight and clearly defined lines of the backlit shōji sliding doors.

As in many other akiya projects, some of the everyday objects from the past are displayed or included in the project. In this case not only shelves with objects from everyday life, but also a view into the doctor’s office. Again, a mixture of local memories and everyday material combined with a contemporary artist’s design and interpretation of the space, the materials and the everyday life once lived.

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Kawanishi area, August 7


In order to be able to reach some more remote artwork, we did want many visitors to when they visit the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale: we rented a car. In a compact, hybrid Toyota we set off to explore the Kawanishi area north of Tōkamachi and soon encountered the artwork Traces of Memory and Forest of Tomorrow (K-107) by Kunimatsu Kenta.

The work engages in what used to be a sumo-wrestling ring next to Senju shrine: together with local residents, the artist had selected a number of large round stones in the nearby river and placed the stones around the sumo ring to indicate it original place. Four golden poles (cast imprints of wooden poles) are placed in each corner of the raised platform as indication of a roof or canopy in the past. Other stones were spread out in larger circles around the platform.
 
A group of local residents sat inside the Senju shrine and would ask visitors inside for a cup of tea and a chat. Historical photos inside the front room of the shrine shows how the sumo tournament used to look like. One of the local residents recommended a special soba-inari (inari-sushi with yakisoba inside instead of rice), so we found the local shop and bought some for our lunch. Flags around the small shopping centre advertises Kawanishi shigure (local dishes with pork meat) by letting heads of piglets drizzle down into the famous Jōmon pot that is a national treasure in Japan and stored in the Tōkamachi city museum.


On our way, north we passed the artwork entitled Passage (K-034) by Ashitaka Hiromi. Placed on both sides of a bus stop shed, the work is a long bench cast in white fibreglass. The artist collaborated with children at a local school to think of things to say to a stranger while waiting for the bus, such as “good morning” or “the season is soon over”. These sentences are cast into the backrest of each seat along the bench. Given the scarcity of local buses in this area, not many may have a chance to use of these icebreakers, and I doubt that the bench will ever be full. Individual cars have taken over as the main means of transportation.

The next work was, in fact, a car. Created by the Turkish/Dutch/German artist Ahmet Öǧüt, the work The Drifters (K-093) refers to the subcultural practice in Saudi Arabia of driving very fast in a four-wheel drive car and making the car lean over so only the two wheel on one side of the car are on the ground. The most sophisticated drifters are able to sit outside on the windowsill while still holding the car in this position at high speed, and being able to steer with one hand. Apparently, cars made in Japan are especially good for this kind of spectacular sport.

 
On the other side of the road is the work Kyōkai no shinwa (Mythologies of boundaries, K-033) by Uchida Shigeru. There is a number of animal-like plastic sculpture on four legs, like headless sheep grassing at the roadside. Lines from the book Images and Symbols by Romanian philosopher and historian of religion Mircea Eliade are inscribed a wall of iron sheets. One sentence goes: “Let us note that the same images are still invoked in our own days when people want to formulate the dangers that menace a certain type of civilization: there is much talk of ‘chaos’, of ‘disorder’, of the ‘dark ages’ into which ‘our world’ is subsiding.”

 
We arrived to Nakago Green Park, which featured a number of art projects in the park as well as in the surroundings. The project Satoyama Art Zoo (K-094) consists of a number of animal-like sculptures made by different artists and placed around on the lawn in the middle of the park. The animals would span from a friendly bear (by Hirasawa Yuki), abstract monkey-faces coming out of the ground (by Miura Yoshihiro), an inflatable giant frog (by Takahashi Shiro), oxen made of straw (by Matsumoto Yuma and Wara Art Japan) to comic figures (by Kuratani Kazuki) and those of the uncanny (by Kyaneco + Yamashita Wakaba).
 

 

Next to the zoo project, another group of sculptural animals make up the artwork by Fujiwara Yoshiko entitled Homage to Rachel Carson: Four little stories (K-003). This is among the first artworks at the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, produced in 2000 and still present in the landscape. The signs for artworks back in 2000 were more elaborate and detailed about the content and references of the work as they are today. This work is a tribute to the American marine biologist and writer Rachel Carson, whose book Silent Spring from 1962 is a combination of poetry and science writing, revealing the effect of chemical pesticides in the environment. The rabbit, the birdman, the donkey and the Parthenon temple are references to Carson’s book, which during the 1960s and beyond have had a huge influence on the environmental movements in USA and elsewhere.
 

 

From the park, we walked uphill to visit the House of Light (K-005) by American light artist James Turrell. A black wooden house on poles build in traditional Japanese style with engawa and beautiful tatami room that were open for the view of the landscape outside. In one of the rooms, the roof is made to slide away and provide a view from the floor into the sky. This feature is available for people who book a sleepover at the house where you can lie on the floor and watch the night sky. There is installed coloured light sources other places around in the house: in the ceiling and along doorways, or in the water of the elegant o-furo pool.
 

On our way back down the hill again, we encountered several landscape artworks or large outdoor sculptures such as Taho Ritsuko, who has made large hieroglyphs from ancient time as large-scale earthworks (K-023), and Saitoh Ghiju’s Time Space (K-002). Mongolian artist Amarsaikhan Namsraijav has created a wagon out of logs and sticks, perhaps indicating a kind of relationship between nomadic people and “nature”, but also addressing currents topics in the title Migration Echo (K-095).

With the car, we drove on to a nearby mountain, adorned with a reconstruction of an old tower as part of Fushikuro castle. Next to the tower is an artwork: Shirakawa Yoshio’s Circulartory Stone (K-008) is a stone carved as a miniature model of the landscape you can see in front of you (-if the weather is not too cloudy).

We drove on to Fushikurojoseki campsite, which featured two sculptures at the entrance: Kang Hee-joon’s Fanfare Echo (K-097) and Szigeti Csongor’s Private Trap 6.0 (K-102). The campsite was empty; no one seemed to be staying there. Three cottages designated at art projects were placed in the forest, but the cottages were closed except if you have booked for an over-night stays. Further into the bushes of the area were another three outdoor sculptures. Parts of a Giant Gardener (K-013) by Esther Albardané sprout from the ground here and there.

Yanagi Kenji’s work The Sky and Earth Observatory (K-014) consists of stairway sculptures made of concrete that provide a view over the landscape while informing the visitor about different geographical distances to other places in the world and the universe (for example Moscow 7.502 km, Uranus 2.726.497.265 km). Portuguese artist José de Guimarães has created a group of colourful abstract sculptures placed in an open space in the forest. Entitled Route of Meditation, Way to the Sky (K-012), each of the five sculptures refer to a Japanese poet or writer, for example Kame no Chōmei. On our back down the mountain again, was yet another sculpture in the forest, namely Yoshimizu Hiroshi’s Sentry of Forest (K-007), an abstract rendering of the kanji kawa (river) which is included in the name of the area.

 

At the campsite we also encountered one of the old signposts for the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, Designed by José de Guimarães, they refer to the time when the festival was entitled Tsumari Art Necklace and was limited to the public parks in the Kawanishi area. There are about 50 different designs, and they are now marked as artworks (A002).

It seems that the first artworks to appear in 2000 in what would later become the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale are mostly outdoor sculpture in modernist style and form, and not related to the site in which it is placed. The “old” sculptures are most often placed in public parks or places that does not interfere with local everyday life. It seems as if over the years new artworks have become more integrated with the location and recently also engaging the local population more often in production and/or maintenance.

There are also new sculpture in the landscapes, such as a special exhibition curated this year by YATOO, a “nature artist” group from South Korea. They have invited a number of artists from around the globe to present artworks that present ideas about the co-existence between humans and nature. The works include the work Cloth for a Dying Tree (K-099) by Patrick Tagoe-Trukson from Ghana; in which a tree close to the roadside is wrapped in cloth made of small pieces of coloured rubber glued together.

 

Another work is catching the Wind a Sculptural Forest (K-101) by South African artist Strijdom van der Merwe, and Sphere (K-103) by Swiss artist Urs Twellmann. Korean artist Yi Yong-duck made A Dreaming Horse (K-104), in which the technique of bending piece of wood into round forms is visible.

The highlight of today was when we reached the small village of Takakura, where the artist group Rikigosan (a combination of kanji from the names Katō Riki, Watanbe Godai and Yamazaki Shinichi) has made the project entitled Tōkamachi Takakura hakubutsukan – Kaeru tokoro (Tōkamachi Takakura museum – a place to return to, K-106). The artists have transformed the gymnasium of the former local school into an ethnographic museum containing a large amount of agricultural tool and folk craft artefacts that were used in everyday life in a not too far past.

We entered in one end of the building and were guided on to a platform on second floor that opened out into the main building in its full height. At first it was completely dark, but after a while, small spots of light would light up somewhere in the space, accompanied by a sound of a beat on an object. Then another spotlight another place in the darkness along with another sound. Gradually, the spotlights and the sounds would speed up, and one by one, the myriads of objects and tools piled up in the bottom and along both sides of the building would become visible for brief moments.
At some point, the mode shifts, and now the beating sounds are replaced by voices of old people explaining the specific object or tool while the object is lit up. Some of these explanations are also transcribed and written on board with an image of the object by the platform railing. On the outside of the building, some of the tools and objects are reproduced in colour on the snow shield wooden boards.
This art project has clearly engaged the local population in the production of the work. The knowledge of the village people of how to use or make the everyday tools is transmitted through the recorded voices. They speak in local dialect, you can hear the age in their voice, some coughing and laughing.

Riki Go San has been active in the village of Takakura at Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale since 2009, each time with a different project. Read more on the website of the artists here: https://maiko46.wixsite.com/rikigosan

The final artwork on our way back to Tōkamachi was Kasukabe Kan’s 20 minutes’ walk (K-029), which mainly contained an outdoor open display case. A series of images and some text explains two different kinds of rice paddies in this area, segae and tanada, and how they were made by either changing the flow of the river or by constructing stair-shaped fields in the slopes produced by landslides. Apparently, there used to be a model of one-tenth scale next to the showcase, but since this was made in 2003, it may have been overgrown since then – we could not find it. However, we took a walk along some of the segae paddies before heading back.

 

 

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Hong Kong House and Kamigō Clove Theatre, August 4


Today I took the train on Ieyama line from Tōkamachi to Morimiyanohara station in the southwestern area, almost at the border of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale guide map. There is a 20 minutes’ walk from the station to the village of Kamigō, where the new Hong Kong House (M-065) is located. Over the last years, the strong collaborative network has developed between the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale and various art institutions and art universities in Asian countries, among them Hong Kong. During the course of three years, the Hong Kong Art Promotion Office has worked with Kitagawa Fram and others of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale organisation as well as Tsunan town to find a location and build a house to showcase art from Hong Kong at the Triennale. The Hong Kong House contains a gallery space, a kitchen, and living quarters for artists in residence from Hong Kong. The building has metal sheets on the sides, while the gable is made of strips of cedar wood that form surfaces in various angles. Some of the walls inside the gallery space are made of wood, while others are white. There is plenty of light through the glass front. The living quarters for the artist in residence is upstairs, with an opening down to the gallery space. They construction work began in April, when the last snow had melted, and was only finished a few weeks ago.

As the inaugural exhibition, the Hong Kong House featured the art project entitled Tsunan Museum of the Lost (M-066), created by the artist duo Leung Chi Wo and Sara Wong. The two artists had visited the village earlier this year and conducted a workshop with local residents. The local residents were invited to bring along private photos, family albums, photo magazines, or newspapers. During the workshop, participants would share the history and memories embedded in the images, such as school outings, visits to tourist sites, sports events, or participation in local ceremonies. Most photos are from the 1960s and 1970s, but also some older and some of more recent dates. During the workshop, the local people would provide some ethnographic information about the people on the photos. They would also look closely at the photos and pick out some figures that might not be in the foreground, but had been captured within the picture frame by coincidence when the photo was taken. Such figures often blurred or have their back turned to the camera. During the workshop, the artists and local residents created stories for these figures, and the text accompanying each photo in the display therefore is a mix of ethnographic information about the main character of the photo and a fictional story about some other figures.

For example, a photo from ca. 1990 entitled Wife and Child is accompanied by the information that Mr. Moriguchi took this photo of his wife and child when he was taking part of the Niigata Prefecture Inter-District Sports Tournament. This was a popular social activity, even for those who were not much into sports. The text then goes on: “The man in the orange tracksuit was a junior staff member in a construction company and had prepared for three months for this meet. Unfortunately a few days ago he had accidentally burnt his right hand at home. He did not want to withdraw as his boss was also his teammate. He decided to keep going and play using his left hand which he had trained hard with over the last two days. He didn’t mind losing but he did hope to score at least one point.” There is no way of knowing whether this story about the man in the orange tracksuit is true or not, but the emphasis in the text on this figure makes the viewer shift attention away from the wife and child in the mid foreground, and begin looking at the other figures in the image.

All the accompanying texts had a similar structure in which the text would convey both ethnographic account of the main figure as well as a narrative about one of the background characters. Several of the stories are related to broader social and political issues of Japan at the time when the photo was taken, such as trade union protests in the 1950s, the construction of Shinkansen trains in the 1960s, or the influence of the economic depression in the 1930s on local rice prices. The work thus challenges the idea of “truth” both within ethnographic studies as well as in photography studies. As curator Lee Sin Kiu writes in the booklet for Hong Kong House 2018, the two artists align their work with the photo theories of the French philosopher and critic Roland Barthes.

Analogue photos such as those on display are “un-coded” and depict every person and every object that were in front of the camera lens when the shutter was released. By highlighting some of the figure who are not in the centre of the image, the artists also point out how the ways of constructing and looking at photography has strong cultural power. Background persons or objects are most often overlooked and disregarded, while viewers’ attention is focused on the centre of the composition. In this project, the artists try to re-establish the identity of the forgotten or lost individuals and attribute a kind of historical value to the character.

Leung Chi Wo and Sara Wong adapt another strategy to re-establish the identity of forgotten identities in another set of photos in the Hong Kong House gallery. In contrast to the small size and amateur quality of people’s personal photos in the display cases, these photos are large-scale professional shoots of human figures seen from the back. Placed in a neutral white background, these large figures are anonymous and faceless, and they emit individual characteristics only by the clothes they are wearing and their poses. At some point during my scrutiny of the small family photos did I realize that these large-scale figures were actually figures drawn and “isolated” from the old photos and reconstructed in a studio, complete with the same type of clothes and similar poses. The middle photo above, for example, is the man in the orange tracksuit found in the photo Wife and Child described further up.

Later the same day I attended two workshops in the Hong Kong House. The author Chan Lai-Kuen, who has been an artist in residence in the Hong Kong House, conducted the first one. Her workshop took place with one visitor at a time, and I was invited to sit at a small table with Ms. Chan and have a cup of tea. She then showed me four different objects from which I could choose one. I chose a piece of orange kanoko shibori textile in a small plastic bag. Based on her own study of textile production in Kyoto, Ms. Chan would then tell me a short story about the object: how to dye textile with the shibori techniques and how she also loves the way in which fabrics of kimono are depicted in ukiyo-e, wood block prints from the 18th century. In return, she asked me for an object (-if I had any) and a story. I gave Ms. Chan a photo of a family member and a story.

Another workshop was conducted by Chan Sai-lok, an art critic and writer from the Hong Kong-based organisation Art Appraisal Club. Art Appraisal Club is a group of local art professionals who contribute art reviews and critical writing to the Hong Kong art environments. Mr. Chan invited people in the gallery to take a seat and join a talk about the art project in the gallery, both explaining the concept and asking visitors about their thoughts and experience. Later, Mr. Chan presented a number of participatory art projects in Hong Kong, and gave examples of how the concept of Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale has influenced similar projects in rural Hong Kong, such as in the village Lai Cho Wo. Finally, Mr. Chan encouraged workshop participants to share stories from their own country or region. About 10 people from Japan, China, and Europe participated in Mr. Chan’s workshop.

I also visited the Kamigō Clove Theatre (M-052) next door, a former elementary school transformed into a community space for theatre and performance. Outside is a large colourful inflatable ladder; an artwork by Paola Pivi entitled Untitled project for Echigo-Tsumari (M-053). The Kamigō Clove Theatre logo (M-057) is designed by Asaba Katsumi.


In one of the former classrooms inside, the French artist Nicolas Darrot has created the installation work entitled Kamigo Band – Songs for the Season (M-063). On a small platform in the middle of the room, four small automata figures form a band and perform folk songs in front of two old farmhouses. The automata play each their instrument and some of them sing: a bear plays the organ, a monkey plays on a shamisen, and a tiger with a straw hat plays a bass while an octopus plays the drums. Strings from a metal rack animate each animal, and the movements of their hands and the months are synchronized to fit the music. The animation is convincing in its “liveliness”, yet displays a simple and transparent mechanism. Watch a video of the work on Nicolas Darrot’s website.

 

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Mion Nakasato area, August 2

 
We continued our exploration of the Nakasato area, this time around the stations Echigo-Tazawa and Echigo-Mizusawa and the art projects around Mion Nakasato (a spa). The first artwork today was by Utsumi Akiko entitled Tōku to deau basho (Place to meet the distance, N-046), a sculptural work of two square pillars next to each other that are connected in the top by six cross pins. It resembles a ladder leading into the sky. Apart from various philosophical readings of the artwork and its title, the work has a local reference to the many ladders that are attached on the outside of houses and used during wintertime to reach the roof and shovel snow off. Next to Utsumi’s work, someone had placed an ordinary aluminium ladder in a well, mimicking the artwork in the angle of the tilt. It looks as if some local people are trying to communicate formally and conceptually with contemporary artwork.


Close by was the Shinanogawa river, and the large Miyanaka dam that produces electricity for the JR East Japan Railway company. We encountered the artwork Ichiban nagai kawa (The longest river, N-006) by Nigerian artist Olu Oguibe on the other side of the river in a small park with sakura trees. Appropriate to the reference to electricity made by the dam in the background, the work consists of 17 telephone poles made of concrete clustered together. Each pole has an inscription. They are short poem-like texts that express the relationship between the river and human beings, made in collaboration between the artist and local schoolchildren.

Korean artist Hong Sung-Do has placed his artwork at the roadside next to the bridge crossing Shinanogawa river. Entitled Growing Tree in Tsumari (N-005), the work consists of a tree growing in a pot suspended in the air in a cubic construction. This is one of the first artworks to be installed in this area back in 2000, and a slight decay is visible, as rusty dots has started to appear on the iron structure. Two artworks in front of the Mion Nakasato spa building: House of Birds (N-001) by Jaume Plensa, and Blooming Spiral (N-002) by Jean-François Brun – the later, however, was a live garden, but due to the extreme dry and hot weather, most of the grass and plants were withered.

From the Mion Nakasato spa building, a footpath leads through the green rice paddies and follows the yellow poles and flags in one of Isobe Yukihisa’s land art projects. Entitled Where has the river gone? (N-008), this is one of Isobe’s scientific research projects made into art. Isobe has studied the landscape and the historical changes in local agriculture to determine how the landscape has changed, and the poles with yellow flags mark the place in the rice paddies where the river used to run. Now the river runs more towards the east and follows the bottom of some low mountains. The man-made changes of the course of the river over centuries has probably been done to give room for more adjoining agricultural space, but it may also have destroyed some of the delicate ecosystems in the natural environment.


After walking about 20 minutes we reached another of Isobe’s projects entitled The Shinano river once flowed 25 meters above where it presently flows (N-016). On a steep slope, Isobe has constructed a large grid-like frame of scaffolding and attached banners with text that indicates the level of there the river once flowed (at the very top of the scaffolding) and also that the river now flows 9 m lower. The texts refer to excavations done on site that shows how the water through thousands of years has changed the landscape in a more natural course. The scaffold points out the levels and heights directly so that visitors can have a sense of scale when standing in the middle of the site themselves.

We went back to Echigo-Tazawa station and took the train one stop to Echigo-Mizusawa. Next to the station is a small building with a round roof in the style of the local storage houses or garages (the round roof prevents the snow on settling during wintertime). Taiwanese artist Jimmy Liao had decorated the building outside as well as inside. Featuring a cute boy figure and his dog, this and another similar work at Doichi station is entitled Kiss & Goodbye (T-326). A more recent work by Liao was placed next to the building, Mailbox of memory (T-396).


Despite a very hot and humid day, we decided to walk by foot to Doichi, the next station on the Ieyama line. We tried to follow an old narrow road along the railway tracks, but it ended in shrubbery and mud, so we had to go back. On the way, we encountered Slovenian/American artist Tobias Putrih’s work Otajima Park (T-394). It was a construction made of wooden pillars and deck and some open cylinders of light grey plastic. Inside the cylinders, various containers with water would allow small drops of water or evaporated water to sizzle down onto the visitor, or water some plants (rice, aubergine, herbs) that were planted around in the construction.

We finally reached Doichi station and visited another work by Jimmy Liao also entitled Kiss & Goodbye (T-325), supplemented by another part of the Mailbox of memory (T-396). We had almost an hour to wait for the train, so we hung out in the shades of the reception area, where a local farmer sold products made of sarunashi, a fruit that resembles kiwi somewhat and grows in Japan (and China and Korea). Apparently, the sarunashi fruit is full of vitamin C and contains stuff that can cure cancer. Although not part of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale as such, this stand and a small garden created by local residents, also next to the small station building, are all signs of how local people to a certain degree interact with the art audiences.
 

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Nakasato area, August 1

Nakasato is in the southeastern part of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale area. We started out by taking the early morning train to Echigo-Tazawa station on the Ieyama line, and then walked a bit to catch a local bus into the mountains around Kiyotsukyo gorge. We walked about 2.5 km from the bus stop to the small onzen town (the onzen is closed on Wednesdays). We could see the beautiful clear water of Kiyotsugawa river running feely in the landscape, and get a sense of the steep gorge that the river has carved during many thousands years.

  

At the end of the road, where the valley becomes a gorge, a footpath continues into the mountain in a tunnel. Before entering the tunnel, we could soak our feet in an ashi-yu, footbath, in the top of a small reception pavilion entitled Periscope (N-079), re-designed by MAD Architects from China. The pavilion has a small café in the bottom, and upstairs a small round pool with warm water filled with healthy minerals into which you can dip your feet. Above, in the top of the cone-shaped roof, was a hole and a mirror, which reflected the surroundings like a periscope.

 

The tunnel itself was not a new construction, but has recently been renovated in order to facilitate the artworks by Ma Yansong and MAD Architects. After walking 750 m inside the tunnel, we arrived at the Light Cave (N-080). A silvery curved tunnel frames an opening out to the steep slopes of the gorge and the sky. In front of the opening is a platform with a pool of water, and the surface of the water reflects the landscape outside and creates an almost perfect circular image of trees, cliffs and blue sky.

Visitors can take off their shoes and walk along the walls to the front end and stand in front of an invisible glass fence. In this way, the visitor can unite with the stunning view as a black silhouette while friends or family members take photos. The effect of the tunnel opening and the reflection is very “photogenic” and the place is excellent for watching how people perform with the artwork and for each other as they pose for the camera.
 

We walked back towards the bus stop and visited an old village house made into an art installation by Tokyo Denki University Yamamoto Space Design Lab and Kyoritsu Women’s University Hori Lab. Entitled Utsusu ie (Reflecting House, N-054), there is a number of small light bulbs hang under the ceiling in a darkened room, and in another room, parts of the floor is made of glass squares that reflect the view from an open door. Visitors can try to make rope, one of the traditional crafts in the area, and outside, on the back of the house, ropes are suspended from the roof down to the end of the garden.
 

We continued on foot down the road and entered the Isobe Yukihisa Memorial Echigo-Tsumari Kiyotsu Soko Museum of Art (N-072), an old school building turned into a museum. We had hoped for a cup of coffee, but the museum café seems to be open only in weekends. The museum contains artworks by the renowned avant-garde artist and landscape architect Isobe Yukihisa, who has been involved in the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale since the beginning in 2000. The collection shows examples of Isobe’s landscape art and displays how the artist mixes aesthetic and scientific approaches as a means to examine topography, river flows, or wind.

One of Isobe’s trademarks is a yellow pole with a yellow triangular flag, and these poles are used to mark different types of changes in the landscape. In front of the former gymnasium, two rows of yellow flagpoles were put up as example. Perhaps the yellow triangle logo for the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale was inspired by Isobe’s flag.

We took the local bus a bit further down the road, and walked from the bus stop to the artwork by Utsumi Akiko entitled Takusan no ushinawareta mado no tame ni (For Lots of Lost Windows, N-028), a sculptural frame with a set of large white curtains gentling swaying in the wind. Placed in a small park next to a parking lot, the window frames a part of an open view of the Kiyotsugawa river plains and may remind the viewer of how landscapes and places are somehow always framed by certain ways of “seeing.” In this case, a short metal staircase leads the visitor to a specific spot from which to look through the window, and indeed another stage for an art-viewing performance.

We continued across the Kiyotsugawa on a large bridge and visited the Kiyotz Kiyotsugawa Press Center (N-058), a triangular building made of concrete and plexiglas made by architect Tsukihashi Osamu and Architects Teehouse. The press center produces a newsletter in print, which reports on various local projects, some of them related to the artworks of Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale. After that, we found a narrow road between rice paddies and a small forest that took us back to Echigo-Tazawa station. On the way we saw the artwork Set North for Japan (74˚33’2”) (N-010) by the British artist Richard Wilson. The sculpture is a frame of Wilson’s own house in London, but here placed with the same perpendicular and horizontal directions as in London, so it creates a spatial dynamics that relates to another place on the other side of the planet.

We also saw the Chinese artist Niu Bo’s work Man Overcoming Snow (N-009), a clay sculpture shaped as a standing figure, and placed next to the parking lot of a shopping center. The “head” of the sculpture is shaped like the famous Jomon pot, which is a designated “national treasure” and stored in the city museum of Tokamachi.

Next to Echigo-Tazawa station is Boat Shed (N-060) by Atelier Bow-Wow and Tokyo Institute of Technology Tsukamoto Lab, a wooden building with semi-transparent walls. Inside are two artworks by Kawaguchi Tatsuo, namely a yellow boat entitled Voyage to the Future (N-061), and in the taller part of the building, entitled Waterborne Canes of the Heart (N-062), a number of old canes are suspended from the ceiling over a yellow container with water.
 

 

 

 

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Karekimata area, July 30

A friend came to visit, and she had rented a car so we headed north and east to visit the Karekimata village. On our way, we stopped at two art projects: First, at Kōryū Shrine, in which the artist Emma Malig has installed a large globe made of transparent textile in several layers lit from a soft light bulb inside and gently spinning around from the ceiling accompanied by quiet tones. Entitled Atlas Lamenti (T-350), silhouettes of small boats and shapes of land associated with old maps refers to concepts travelling, as the artist herself had to flee the coup d’état in Chile as a child.

Close by, and next to the small station of Uonuma-Nakajō station on the Ieyama line, is the work Repetitive Objects (T-351) by the artist group Me. Two large boulders lay on a small grassy bump next to the railway line, completely identical in size, shape and colour, and every single little curve and crack in the surface of the stone. This kind of mirror images is a trade mark of many of Me’s art projects, and was an included as an extraordinary part of the work they had installed in a former shop in Tōkamachi in 2015 (see my previous blog comment). The notion of two exact pieces of natural elements would make one wonder about existence and materiality, about the boundaries between nature and man-made objects. Which is the “real” stone and which is “fake”? It makes you think of other types of “fake” nature such as fibre glass rock replica found in amusement parks or benches made of concrete but shaped like a piece of wood. However, the fact that you could not get to touch or climb on the two rocks in this display makes the viewer too dependent on the visual appearance.

 

We continued up into the mountains toward the east, and the road got narrower as we approached the village of Karekimata. Along the road were a few houses, and not many people to be seen. We stopped at the artwork Natural Circulation Henhouse: Paradise (T-349) by the artist Yoshino Ōji, which was a large circular henhouse about 10 m in diameter made of chicken wire and surrounded by some white egg-shaped sculptures. A food stand shaped like a cow and a greenhouse were placed inside the pen, and about 50 hens gathered underneath small fig trees and blackberry bushes. There was no-one around, but in garage next to the pen you could by both fresh and boiled eggs.

 
We continued to Karekimata Project at the former Karekimata elementary school, now converted into an art space by staff and students at Kyoto Seika University. Outside was the artwork Daichi no kioku (Memory of the Earth, T-268) by Uchida Haruyuki, a circular rice field surrounded by small trees.

 
Inside were artworks by the Indonesian artist Albert Yonathan Setyawan. His project entitled Transitory nature of earthly joy (T-346) contains a number of small green-house-like boxes containing objects made of clay. The objects have forms of traditional local tools and everyday utensils, such as a spade, an axe, a jar. From every clay object small green sprouts emerge, and their roots too trusting forward. While the cute and containable size of the sprouts perhaps refers to the title’s “earthly joy” of seeing fresh new green life trickle out, there is also a somewhat uncanny sensation to the way in which stems and roots display a powerful force by destroying the surface of familiar objects. These are “works in progress,” so to speak, as they will grow and flourish throughout the triennale period, so it might be interesting to come back later to see how “nature” continuously takes over “culture.”

 
On the first floor of the building, Hirose Nana and Nagatani Kazuma had installed a work entitled Classroom (T-347) in the former classrooms. Here, a text printed in silver characters was applied to the worn-out boards of the floors of the classroom and hallway, while objects of various kinds were suspended from the ceiling.

Out on the backside the building, down a slope into the forest, a sound artwork by Chinese artist Liu Lijie entitled Friendship is a sheltering tree (T-348) provided a background for voices and sounds of the past – a clock ticking, an old woman singing.

On our way back to Tōkamachi, we stopped at an artwork entitled Tōkamachi no ki (Tree of Tokamachi, T-345) by Takekoshi Kohei: a small pathway down into a hole in the ground where you could see the roots of an old (now cut-down) tree exposed. There seems to be an attention to “roots” among some artists, but Setyawan’s version is much more interesting than that of Takekoshi.

 

 

 

The final stop for today was at the Tanaka Fumio Library (T-201), a former communal house turned into a library for the architect Tanaka Fumio.

Inside on the first floor was a work entitled Uragawa no monogatari (Background story, T-344) by the Chinese artist Xu Bing. It is a free-standing panel that resemble fusuma (sliding doors) decorated with a landscape painting in Chinese ink-painting style, complete with mountains, trees, roof tops and a lake with boats. Behind the scenery the misty mountains provide a notion of distance and a large white mountain (Fuji-like) in the back. The panels are light from behind, and from the backside, you realize that the classical landscape painting is not painted with ink on paper, but is made up of shadows cast by many layers of old paper and sticks glued or tapes to the backside. In other words: the surface of things is not what you think they are what appear to be “classical” art is made of scrap and re-cycled material. If I read the Fuji-like mountain as a reference to Japan in the midst of the “Chinese” landscape, I also see that the stereotype image of “Japan” has a “back side” (uragawa) – for example that Chinese culture has had huge influence on Japanese cultural history, or that the area of Echigo-Tsumari is often talked about as Nihon no ura, “the backside of Japan.” But then again – such a “political” reading is on my own account, perhaps not shared by the artist (or organizers).

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Opening of Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale 2018, July 29

Four trumpeters in the cool pool. A fanfare announces the opening of the seventh edition of the Echigo-Tsumari Triennale. People crowd around the square pool area in the inner court of the Echigo-Tsumari Satoyama Museum of Contemporary Art Kinare to get a glimpse of the organizers and artists at the opening ceremony. Among the speakers were General Producer Fukutake Soichiro, Art Director Kitagawa Fram, and the Ambassador of France.

Not so many women among the organizers. One female voice: Kuwabara Haruka, mayor of the town of Tsunan and Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee, who welcomed visitors to her town (population 9.764).

More about some of the art projects at the Kinare contemporary art museum at a later point. On this opening day, the temperature was high, and many found it tempting to walk into the pool and intervene with the art work by Leandro Erlich entitled Palimpsest: Pond of Sky (artwork no. T-352 in the official guidebook), a mirror representation of the Kinare building embedded in the bottom of the pool.

There is a printed version of the official guidebook of the triennale, but only in Japanese and Chinese. The English version is merely a list of the artists’ names and names of the art works. I guess many may use the online version, but somehow it is nice to have an actual booklet in your hand, make notes in the margens, and turn over leaves. You can also buy a printed guide map for 100 Yen – this is nice because you can get an overview of the entire area.

Later, we visited the artwork Mori no uchi (House in the Forest, no. T-386) installed in the small park above the Suwa Shrine in Tokamachi. The work is a collaboration between Sugiura Hisako, Sugiura Tomoya, and the Sugiura Laboratory at Showa Women’s University. It consists of a number of round constructions made of piece of bamboo tied together to form a kind of pavilion. Several pavilions were spread out in the park area, but did not make the same impression as a unity within the space as the work by the same artists displayed in the same park in 2015 (see my previous blog entry).

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Coming Up: Report from Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, 2018

I am on my way to Tokamachi, Niigata Prefecture, to carry out a one month field study of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale. The art festival began in 2000, so this is the 7th edition this year. I plan to revisit some of the art projects from my last visit 3 years ago, and also experience some of the many new artworks and projects that are created for this year’s event.

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