Aichi Trienniale opened this year amid controversy, as an exhibit with the comfort women sculpture Statue of Peace (2011) was closed amid threats and at the request of the Nagoya mayor. Seventy-two artists came out with a statement calling the decision ill-advised for a festival aiming to challenge restrictions on freedom of expression.
Even without the cancelled “After Freedom of Expression” segment, however, this contemporary arts showcase held once every three years offers plenty to see and consider with outstanding examples of visual arts, film, performing arts, and music on through October 14.
The theme of this year’s trienniale is “Taming Y/Our Passion” (or “情の時代,” “Age of Passion” in Japanese). It explores the overlapping meaning of 情 (jo), which has connotations of emotion, information, and compassion. Director Daisuke Tsuda suggests that in this era of strong emotions fanned by an overflow of information and incendiary situations, compassion may be our best way forward. This photo report focuses on some of the visual art on show at the triennial’s main sites.
Aichi Arts Center (Nagoya)
The entrance of Aichi Arts Center displays two LED screens locking lips –the group exonemo’s exploration of love in the digital age – and Dora García’s posters for the seductive spy performances of ‘The Romeos.’ The Malaysian art collective Pangrok Sulap presents a politically satirical woodblock print over one meter in length.
Ugo Rondinone’s ‘Vocabulary of Solitude’ fills a room with 45 clown sculptures showing different facial expressions and poses throughout 24 hours of imagined solitude.
In the performance and video installation ‘Decoy Walking,’ Goro Murayama attempts to move in ways that gait recognition software cannot detect.
Claudia Martínez Garay’s ceramic objects represent Peruvian artifacts looted by colonial civilizations.
Shikemichi and Endoji (Nagoya)
The Shikemichi and Endoji area is an Edo-era merchant district with retro shopping streets and preserved historic residences.
Along with video interviews about Japan’s colonial legacy and present society, Bontaro Dokuyama exhibits a cherry tree with blossoms made from uirou, a Nagoya confectionery symbolic of postwar change.
Video installations by the duo Kyun-Chome consider issues such as refugees and social division. In ‘I’m Sage,” transgender children and their parents write the child’s given and chosen names in calligraphy.
At the Ito Residence, the former home of a merchant family, Takahiro Iwasaki references Nagoya’s past with chests of drawers donated by locals and reproductions of Nagoya landmarks rising out of ash.
Also at the Ito Residence, Michiko Tsuda presents an installation that allows viewers to see both the space and themselves from multiple perspectives.
Nagoya City Art Museum (Nagoya)
One of the trienniale’s goals is equal representation of male and female artists. Yui Usui displays petri dish-based works examining womanhood and family, while Miku Aoki’s dioramas and zoetropes interpret her own life as a child of reproductive technology.
Kirakutei (Toyota City)
Kirakutei is a former inn and restaurant. Ho Tzu Nyen delves into the property’s wartime history in site-specific video installations.
Underneath Meitetsu Toyotashi Station (Toyota City)
Nodoka Odawara’s practice is informed by research into the history of sculpture.
Toyota Citizens’ Gallery (Toyota City)
For this project, Anna Witt interviewed workers at a Toyota factory and had them create a performance considering the relationship between blue collar work and white collar work.
Toyota Municipal Museum of Art (Toyota City)
Cuban artist Reynier Leyva Novo distorts the posters of Soviet avant-garde artists in the installation ‘Revolution is an Abstraction.’
Former Toyota Higashi High School (Toyota City)
The Former Toyota Higashi High School is the site of a relocated school where a museum is to be built in 2023.
Tadasu Takamine has turned the school’s outdoor swimming pool into an installation piece, lifting a long block of its concrete floor into the sky like a monument.