10 Exhibitions to See During Golden Week

Some of the top art attractions over the coming holidays.

poster for Kayo Ume Exhibition

Kayo Ume Exhibition

at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery
in the Shinjuku area
This event has ended - (2013-04-13 - 2013-06-23)

poster for Memento Mori - Eros & Thanatos

Memento Mori - Eros & Thanatos

at Urano
in the Tokyo: Others area
This event has ended - (2013-04-13 - 2013-05-18)

poster for Sophie Calle

Sophie Calle "For the Last and First Time"

at Hara Museum of Contemporary Art (Tokyo)
in the Tokyo: Others area
This event has ended - (2013-03-20 - 2013-06-30)

poster for Spinning the Word: Sophie Calle and Miranda July from the Museum Collection

Spinning the Word: Sophie Calle and Miranda July from the Museum Collection

at Hara Museum Arc (Gunma)
in the Kanto: others area
This event has ended - (2013-03-16 - 2013-06-26)

In Features by Emily Wakeling 2013-04-19

Ume Kayo, from 'Ume-me' (2004). Photograph.

Golden Week– a series of national holidays at the end of April and beginning of May (April 29 and May 3, 4, 5 and 6)– will soon be upon us and art-goers will have plenty of exhibitions to choose from. All the exhibitions listed below will be open on public holidays over the Golden Week period except as noted.

Many of Tokyo’s art museums’ programs have chosen solo exhibitions for this time of year. The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo has a solo exhibition by Francis Alÿs, a Belgian-born artist living and working in Mexico. The museum is also holding the first comprehensive solo exhibition of one of Japan’s few female pre- and post-war Surrealist painters, Yuki Katsura. This exhibition will be a significant gesture in art historical revisionism for Japan’s twentieth century women artists.

Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery is holding a major exhibition of the feel-good photography of Ume Kayo, a young Japanese photographer who loves to find the comical and sometimes awkward situations of everyday life. Take, for example, her series called Danshi (Boys), in which she snaps schoolboys at their silliest and most disgusting. The exhibition will guarantee a smile or chuckle.

The Shirokane Art Complex is celebrating its 5th anniversary with a collection of connected events all curated by the acclaimed photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto. “Memento Mori- Eros & Thanatos” will be shown across Arataniurano, Kodama Gallery, London Gallery and Yamamoto Gendai. Take care that these exhibitions will not be open during the official public holidays, Sundays and Mondays, but are well worth a look if possible.

French conceptual artist Sophie Calle has brought her beautiful works from the “Blind” series to Tokyo. “For the First and Last Time” is focused around the stories of people who have lost sight. Along with portraits of her subjects, Calle’s works include stories of the last thing they saw before they lost the ability to see. Downstairs, the artist also documents the experience of a range of subjects who view the ocean for the first time in their lives.

Speaking of Sophie Calle, fans may also be interested in traveling to the Hara Museum Arc in Gunma prefecture to see “Spinning the World: Sophie Calle and Miranda July from the Museum Collection“. The Arc is in a fabulous location; it’s in close proximity to a hot spring resort, a couple of temples and Lake Haruna. Closed on Thursdays.

Take a quick trip to Yokohama to check out a large survey of Southeast Asian art. “Welcome to the Jungle: Contemporary Art in Southeast Asia” (can’t help but think of horrible ’80s rock with that title) is curated by Khairuddin Hori, senior curator at the Singapore Art Museum. He has brought to Japan a wide variety of works from Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam and The Philippines. It’s a good opportunity to see some dynamic art works–most for the first time– from the region. Closed on Thursdays.

If you’re looking to discover something or someone new, the twice-annual “Spiral Independent Creators Festival” (SICF) will again showcase some of Tokyo’s best emerging artists and creatives in the Spiral Hall in Aoyama. Meanwhile, Mori Art Museum will hold a large-scale group exhibition featuring works as diverse as Rodin’s The Kiss to images of the digitally simulated pop star Hatsune Miku. “All You Need is Love: From Chagall to Kusama and Hatsune Miku” is set to represent all kinds of expressions of love within the world of art.

On a completely different note, the Japan Folk-Craft Museum will display the art and crafts of Ainu culture. “Ainu Crafts- Patterns with a Prayer” features clothing, jewellery and other objects mostly from Hokkaido in the 19th century. The patterns, as well as being beautiful to look at, have important spiritual functions such as warding off evil.

By the way, check out the Mupon app to access many of these exhibitions at a discount.

Emily Wakeling

Emily Wakeling. Emily Wakeling is a writer and curator who used to be based in Tokyo. Hailing from Brisbane, Australia, Emily wrote a Masters thesis on images of girls in contemporary Japanese art. She also curated some local sound art events. Her research interests cover Asian and Australian contemporary art, young women artists, globalisation and art, and new media. » See other writings

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