Atsushi Watanabe “My Wounds / Your Wounds”

Roppongi Hills A/D Gallery

poster for Atsushi Watanabe “My Wounds / Your Wounds”
[Image: Project “Tell Me your Emotional Scars” 2017 (2016–) Photo by ©ATSUSHI WATANABE]

This event has ended.

Atsushi Watanabe has continued to create works that fuse personal themes based on his own experiences with various social problems. In recent years, he has been producing art inspired by the fact that he himself used to be a severe hikikomori (recluse).

For his recent piece “Suspended Room, Activated House” (2014), Watanabe sealed himself in a concrete house-shaped structure the size of a single tatami mat for one week, effectively restraining himself physically, before escaping through his own power using a hammer and chisel. In this extreme performance within an installation made of concrete, he drew on his own experience as a hikikomori to express “rebirth from captivity”, a theme that can be traced back to the concepts of “ritual death and rebirth” in mountain asceticism and Buddhist introspection rituals. Before holding this solo exhibition, he also went online to seek submissions from actual current hikikomori of photos of the rooms they were living in, and exhibited the 60 photos that he collected. During the exhibition, Watanabe himself was surprised by several actual hikikomori who came to see his work. This exhibition received considerable media coverage on TV and in magazines and newspapers. Roppongi Hills A/D Gallery plans to display video and an installation that recreates this work.

Watanabe again sought submissions through his website for the “Tell Me your Emotional Scars” project (2016). This was a project that sought anonymous stories about personal psychological wounds, and has received around 700 highly personal written works to date in a variety of languages, not just Japanese. The art is created by writing the submitted text on a concrete board, breaking it with a hammer, then mending it using the kintsugi (gold mending) traditional method of repairing pottery. Watanabe shares images of each piece as it is repaired in real time through his social media.

The “My Wounds / Your Wounds” exhibition will showcase many of these recent works. Watanabe also has plans for a collaborative work with his mother. When he was a hikikomori, the scars on “this side (me)” of the door were also borne on “that side (you)” of the door. This realization was one of the reasons that Watanabe was able to overcome hikikomori. They will destroy a miniature model of the Watanabe home, then each will attempt to repair it while talking about what it was like at the time.

The scars that Watanabe himself bore in the past have been sublimated through noticing other people’s scars and facing them through his activities as an artist. He is using his own history of repairing his scars to propose to society, through his art, a mutually supportive attitude that will keep weak selves/someones from being left in the lurch.

Media

Schedule

from 8月 04, 2017 to 8月 27, 2017
Open every day during the exhibition.

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Jennifer Pastore tablog review

10 Things in Tokyo: August 2017

Events and exhibitions happening this month in Tokyo and beyond

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