10 Things in Tokyo: February 2017

Events and exhibitions happening this month in Tokyo and beyond

poster for Contact Gonzo “Physicatopia”

Contact Gonzo “Physicatopia”

at Watari-um, The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art
in the Omotesando, Aoyama area
This event has ended - (2017-02-05 - 2017-03-26)

poster for Elizabeth Peyton “Still Life”

Elizabeth Peyton “Still Life”

at Hara Museum of Contemporary Art (Tokyo)
in the Tokyo: Others area
This event has ended - (2017-01-21 - 2017-05-07)

poster for Mika Aoki “The Forest That Leads To You”

Mika Aoki “The Forest That Leads To You”

at Pola Museum Annex
in the Ginza, Marunouchi area
This event has ended - (2017-01-20 - 2017-02-26)

poster for Ei Arakawa “Tryst”

Ei Arakawa “Tryst”

at Taka Ishii Gallery Tokyo
in the Roppongi, Nogizaka area
This event has ended - (2017-02-10 - 2017-03-11)

poster for Taiji Matsue “Tokyo Hashima”

Taiji Matsue “Tokyo Hashima”

at Taimatz
in the Bakurocho area
This event has ended - (2017-02-10 - 2017-03-04)

In Features by Jennifer Pastore 2017-02-17

Teppei Kaneuji, 'White Discharge (Public Garden)' (2016–2017) at Yebisu International Festival for Art & Alternative Visions 2017

Blockbuster exhibitions underway this month include Physicatopia at Watarium, where the improvisational martial arts quartet Contact Gonzo has taken up residence, holding live performances and showing videos and installations of their action-charged creative feats. Ends Mar. 26. Still Life at the Hara Museum surveys the expressive and emotionally charged work portrait artist Elizabeth Peyton, who has personally selected some 40 paintings to represent her career profiling celebrities, artists, and friends. Through May 7. N.S. Harsha: Charming Journey at the Mori Art Museum tours the universe of this prolific Indian artist in a sprawling exhibition of paintings, installations, and interactive displays that take a playful approach to pondering the place of nations and the individual in a globalized world. Until June 11. All three of these shows are eligible for discounts with the MuPon museum coupon app, on sale for ¥720 (regularly ¥1080) through Feb. 19.

Among smaller-scale exhibitions that should not be overlooked is The Forest That Leads To You. Mika Aoki’s dazzling sculptures of lampwork glass resembling delicate life forms can be seen at Pola Museum Annex through Feb. 26. Another intriguing gallery show is Ei Arakawa’s Tryst, which reworks the performance artist’s “See Weeds” in which Gutai paintings on wheels “danced” to music. Bringing in a new musical score, Arakawa imagines these works from the postwar art movement exploring physical engagement with objects as images viewed through handmade LED screens. At Taka Ishii Gallery Tokyo until Mar. 11.

February and March offer a slew of festivals. The Franco-centric media arts extravaganza Digital Choc at Institut français du Japon and partner venues around the city hosts art exhibitions, live performances, talks, and other events considering the relationship between humans and machines. Highlights include a computer music concert, an exposition of art bots, and Samuel Bianchini’s code-generated, photo-like images in “All Over.” Digital Choc ends Mar. 20. There’s also MOT Satellite reminding us that while the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo is currently closed for renovations, there’s still a vibrant creative scene in the Kiyosumi-Shirakawa area. Check out exhibitions by cultural figures like poet Gozo Yoshimasu and award-winning installation artist Yuko Mohri, plus talks, tours, workshops, and strolls around coffee shop-dotted neighborhood. Until March 20th.

This year’s Yebisu International Festival for Art & Alternative Visions
(a.k.a. Yebizo) contemplates our diverse realities while recognizing that the future is something we face together. Once again the heart of this 15-day event is a free exhibition of photography and video work by international artists at TOP Museum. Contemporary creatives like Yasumasa Morimura, Teppei Kaneuji, and Tomoko Sawada are featured along with displays tracing the evolution of the moving image. Movement itself is also a focus this year, with live performances, dance films, and a photographic tribute to the late great contemporary dancer Mika Kurosawa. The second part of the program is made up of films with intellectual, experimental, and socially conscious bents. Through Feb. 26.

Yebizo also involves umbrella exhibitions in the Ebisu area. One of the most promising is NADiff’s Shashin Bunriha “The Unethics of Photography – Distance and Angle” presenting an evolving movement in contemporary Japanese photography. Addressing the moral complications of photography’s prerogative to turn complex realities into neat frames through judgment calls of distance and angle, the photographer and critics’ group Shashin Bunriha (Photo Secessionists) includes Taiji Matsue, Ryudai Takano, and Risaku Suzuki, three of Japan’s most serious and gifted practicing photographers. See Matsue’s landscapes, Takano’s portraits, and video work by curator and critic Shino Kuraishi in this show coinciding with a new book of Shashin Bunriha’s work since 2012. Ends March 26.

Taiji Matsue’s Tokyo Hashima is another exhibition photography fans will not want to miss. The Kimura Ihei Award winner is known for his urban and natural landscapes rendered in spectacular textural detail through special attention to light. Taimatz in Bakurocho is showing his photographs of the deserted industrial island Gunkanjima (Hashima), the “battleship island” off the coast of Nagasaki holding a special place in the imagination modern ruin explorers. Through Mar. 4.

Jennifer Pastore

Jennifer Pastore. Jennifer Pastore is Tokyo Art Beat's editor. She cannot trim the image, but she must trim the image. » See other writings

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