Akira Takayama “War Painting / Heterotopia – The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo”
Ends in 9 days
Takayama’s first Heterotopia series, Tokyo Heterotopia, was presented in 2013 as a “tour performance,” taking the form of a self-guided tour. Participants travelled around Tokyo with guidebooks and radios in hand. At specified locations, they could tune in their radios to readings of stories written by poets and novelists about people from Asia who came to live in Tokyo as students, immigrants, and refugees, revealing Asian history in Tokyo. Since then, the Heterotopia series has expanded throughout the world, including Beitou Heterotopia (Taiwan, 2016), Beirut Heterotopia (Lebanon, 2017), Piraeus Heterotopia (Greece, 2017), Heterotopia Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates, 2019), and Heterotopia Riga (Latvia, 2019). The Tokyo version became an app and continues to this day.
War Painting / Heterotopia – The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo is the first public performance of a project to ‘exhibit’ at other locations paintings depicting war scenes that are held in the collection of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. The Japanese military commissioned the production of the majority of these war paintings between 1937 and 1945. After the war, paintings collected by GHQ were seized by America, but were returned to Japan in 1970 on indefinite loan, and 153 are currently held in the collection of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.
For this exhibition, white walls are lined with QR codes, but there are no actual paintings. When visitors use their phones to access a work by reading a QR code, they hear a reading of a poem created based on a specific war painting. Each poem is written by a poet from the country that is the setting for the painting or otherwise associated with the painting in some way. The readings are performed by the poets themselves. In this way, although not physically present, war paintings held in the collection of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo are ‘exhibited’ at the gallery by being visualized as the visitors listen to the readings.
One work at the exhibition, the poem Grand Fond Blanc (Wonderful White) by Walis Nokan was written based on Tsuguharu Foujita’s Fierce Fighting of Kaoru Paratroops After Landing on the Enemy’s Position. The soldiers who made up the Kaoru Paratroops were mainly from the indigenous peoples of Taiwan, and this war painting depicts a gruesome scene in which they make a forced landing and attack on an airfield on the island of Leyte in the Philippines occupied by American forces. Walis belongs to one of the indigenous peoples of Taiwan known as the Atayal, and he is widely known in Taiwan as a writer of Taiwanese indigenous literature. The poem is told from the standpoint of one of the Taiwanese soldiers among the Japanese forces depicted in the war painting, and is directed at Foujita, who painted the work. Readings can be heard by Walis himself in the original Chinese or by artist Tsuyoshi Ozawa who provides a Japanese translation.
This exhibition also presents poems created based on Miyamoto Saburo’s Meeting of Generals Yamashita and Percival, Yamashita Shinichi’s British and Australian Captives Work at Inchon, Korea, and Inokuma Genichiro’s Railroad Construction in a Certain Area. There are plans for the project to continue on after this exhibition. This show War Painting / Heterotopia – The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, is the first of what promises to be a fascinating series.
from September 11, 2021 to October 30, 2021
From 12:00 To 19:00
Closed on Mondays, Sundays, Holidays
Address: 1F 3-9-11 Minami Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0047
11 minute walk from exit 4 at Shirokane-takanawa Station on the Namboku or Toei Mita line, 11 minute walk from exit 1 at Azabu-juban Station on the Namboku or Toei Oedo line, 11 minute walk from exit 1 at Hiroo Station on the Hibiya line.