Direct Democracy for Art

艺术的直接民主

今天我想谈谈日本当代艺术的一个方面。如你所知,20年前日本的经济就已十分繁荣,但当时日本社会对当代艺术并不怎么感兴趣。有鉴于此,近年来其他亚洲国家开始积极地运用当代艺术作为一种策略性的工具时,日本反而被孤立起来了。

 

造成这种情况的原因有二:其一,西方文化进入日本是与近年来日本的现代化并行同步的。这点今天先略去不提。不过还得长话短说,日本有钱人对作为文化传承的传统茶道的喜爱远高于来自西方的现代艺术。这就导致了参战第一和第二次世界大战的日本并不具备接受当代艺术的前提条件。而如今日本波普文化的代表动漫正是从战后日本的嘈乱景况中诞生的,它也成为新贵们文化消费的主要对象。由此,对当代艺术之价值的认识成了一戳即破的泡泡。

 

然后到了上世纪90年代,大量热钱流入市场,艺术品被认为是低风险、高回报的投资尚品。然而,日本有钱人却更重视古典艺术性而非纯粹的投资价值。于是,他们并不明智地购买了大量价格高昂的印象派绘画,而错失了将购买当代艺术作为全球战略性投资的大好机会。

 

中国有句古话:“生死有命,富贵在天。”民主化和沟通性的艺术可以成为振兴民主的催化剂。换个角度来看,这也是颇具价值的财富。

 

这种民主化和沟通性艺术的平台之一是由Fram Kitagawa在其家乡越后发起的“越后妻有三年展”(Echigo-Tsulnari Art Triennale),这是一个人口稀少、常年多雪的地区。二年前我作为志愿者前往越后帮助当地人移除过多的积雪。这张照片中是越后地区的一座禅庙。今年越后地区的雪灾尤其严重,积雪高达4米,当地政府不得不花费高达2500円每人每小时来清理积雪。对孤老而言,这意味着在支付高昂的税费同时还得每年忍受自然带来的雪灾天气。

 

希望大家能访问三年展的网站,因为越后妻有确实做了许多独到创举。首先,三年展总监Kitagawa亲自挑选艺术家,仅这一点就足以在日本堪称奇迹。其次,三年展引入了许多来自建筑师和艺术家的实验性、协作性项目,并将之作为当地政府公共项目的一部分,如图书馆或其他公共设施的建设。这使得项目颇具时效性与远见卓识。当然这也是帮政府合理花钱的好办法,因为通常政府不会为某个单独的艺术项目投钱。

 

其三,三年展吸引了众多青年志愿者介入到社会系统中,前往当地探访一些年久失修、少人居住的地区。这些被称为“Kohebi”的青年志愿者群体大多来自城市,他们住在村庄空置的房子里,从事各种志愿工作,比如打扫将要成为展厅的空房子,或种树。这着实是场让人大开眼界的展览,并确实通过三年展的活动振兴了当地的社区形势。当然,悲剧总不可避免。我听说一个故事,当地的一个农民爱上了一位来做志愿者的女孩,并向她求婚;女孩经历了激烈的思想斗争,在艺术作为某种超脱绝伦的体验与日常生活的柴米油盐间挣扎。

 

越后妻有的成功又促生了濑户内国际艺术节(Setouchi International Art Festival)。然而,濑户内的背景同越后妻有很不一样。濑户内已经有了直岛贝尼赛艺术站(Benesse Art Site Naoshima),并已然成为日本当代艺术屈指可数的朝圣地之一。在艺术站开幕之初,每日的访问量仅几十人。然而,眼光长远的艺术站总监福武先生却通过长期耐心的呵护与卓越积极的投入将之塑造为日本当代艺术界的成功神话。越后妻有同直岛最大的区别在于前者在一个落后地区进行完全实验性、开创性的项目,而后者更倾向于商业。这两者均可成为讨论同类项目时的重要参考。比如另一个独立艺术项目别府项目,以及一家颇为成功的独立美术馆:十和田现代美术馆(Towada Art Center)。十和田作为一个美术馆的成功案例,拥有自己的永久收藏,并将美术馆的建筑视作保护艺术品的保险箱。这一理念让美术馆拥有价值连城的优质藏品,由此在日本美术馆界独树一帜。

 

与之相反,青森美术馆(Aomori Museum of Art)的筹建资金雄厚,其中很大一部分来自当地核电站提供的补贴。讽刺的是,青森美术馆所在的地方就靠近越后。

 

还有我想强调的一点是,越后妻有和濑户内国际艺术节的举办结构保留了某种古老的传统,即所谓朝圣的复兴。朝圣不仅见于日本,也见于其他许多国家。朝圣与自律(修炼)相联系。在日本,88座寺庙联结而成的多地朝圣网即知名的“四国朝圣”。而濑户内国际艺术节同“四国朝圣”有着许多相通之处。也就是说,濑户内国际艺术节借“信仰之力”成为瞻仰杰出艺术作品的新朝圣地,由此吸引了许多参观者,并从而振兴了当地的工业与文化。这也可作为文化人类学的一个课题来加以研究。世界上朝圣地的参考有鼎鼎大名的麦加(Pilgrimage to Mecca)和圣地亚哥(Santiago de Compostela)。

 

最后,我想说说我们国家最近遭受的灾难。PPT中这张照片摄于去年4月24日。我和几个朋友自主发起了一个名为“有劲儿的大脚”(VITALFOOT)的项目,即为灾区捐献自行车,人们可以骑着这些自行车去灾区发放水和供暖油料。灾区的毁灭性景象让我们无言以对。大船渡市的这座幼儿园坐落在一座小山上,由于幼儿园的校车司机明锐机智地在地震之后即刻把车开回了山上,从而孩子们得以幸免于难。然而,其他地区的许多校车中的许多孩子却被海水吞噬。但这一切灾难并不仅仅缘自海啸本身,更归咎于我们对祖先古话的忽视,比如“别在低于这座石碑的地方建房子”。

 

海啸之后,紧接着便发生了福岛核电站的泄漏事故。事实上,这是一起由多种不同人类心理交揉触发的人为事故,比如相关人士未能做出理性客观的判断。所以,综合这两个事件,我们都不能归因责怪自然,罪魁祸首都是人类自己。我参加此次展览的作品“激流”(RADIKAL AQUA)想传达的概念就是一切的源头皆是人类过剩的欲望。

 

不管人类是否会停下追逐能源的脚步,放弃掠夺和垄断的念头,最终达成分享主义的民主;是否能直面人类的本能,平衡好这些欲望与节制的关系,这才是我们需要去理清的。我想以一个假想结束今天的演讲,即由Alan Weisman提出的“没有我们的世界”(The World Without Us,全书在线阅读),我认为这个假想不会实现,而我们的当下也不再会为后人所“怀念”(Nostalgia)。

 

谢谢大家。

2012年2月18日

椿昇

日本艺术家、京都造形艺术大学教授、京都艺术家高峰论坛发起人

Today, I’d like to talk about one aspect of Japanese contemporary art. As you know, even twenty years ago when the Japanese economy was successful, the Japanese society was not really interested in contemporary art. Given that, in recent years when the other Asian countries are proactively using contemporary art as a strategic tool, Japan seems to be a singular case.

 

There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, the Western culture imported to Japan was fixed at one point,while Japan’s modernization was achieved in relatively early years. I would not go into detail on this issue today. However, if I make a long story short. it seems that wealthy people in Japan were already pretty happy with traditional tea ceremony as cultural hierarchy and modern art from Western Europe.

 

As a result, while Japan was heading for the First and Second World Wars, Japan did not have a basis to accept contemporary art after Duchamp. Then, in the chaos of postwar Japan, pop culture such as manga and anime became the fundamentals for the new rich. The concept of the value of contemporary art was left in an air pocket.

 

Then,in the‘90s, a lot of money was poured into the art market because the art pieces were considered to be relatively low risk and high priority investments for the money flooded into the market through a casino—like finance. However, Japanese wealthy people thought “art’’ should be high art and different from secular financial products. Therefore,they unwisely bought expensive impressionistic paintings and missed the great opportunities to deal in contemporary art as an international strategic investment.

 

There is a famous Chinese proverb: “Inscrutable are the ways of heaven(fortune is unpredictable and changeable)”. I have a feeling that this lag may result in an unexpected fortune. I mean that is democratic and communicative art as a catalyst that reinforces and revitalizes the democracy, different from art like financial derivative.

 

A precedent of democratic and communicative art is “Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale” initiated by Fram Kitagawa, an art director in his hometown called “Echigo”, a snowy under-populated area. This photo shows a Zen temple next to Echigo where I did volunteer work to remove snow two years ago. Especially this year, this area has four meters of snow and therefore has to pay 2,500 yen per person per hour.For elderly people living alone, this equals to paying a significant amount of tax and suffering from a natural disaster every winter.

http://www.echigo-tsumari.jp/

 

I hope you will visit the website of the festival for more details. Echigo-Tsulnari did some distinctive inventions. Firstly, the director Kitagawa selects all the artists by himself. By the way, this is like a miracle in Japan. Secondly. this Triennale involves experimental and collaborative projects with architects and artists using the budget for construction of a library and other public facilities as part of public work projects by the local government. This gave the projects topicality and foresight. Also, it is a good way of using the money of the government, which is not usually given to a single art project.

 

Also, this Triennale created an intervention system where young volunteers can come and visit the aging and under-populated area. The young volunteers gathered mainly from the cities are called “Kohebi”. They stay in empty houses in the village and do volunteering work, such as cleanup of empty houses where art pieces will be installed and forest thinning. It is eye-opening how those activities revitalize the local area.However, some tragedy occurred when a farmer asked a young female volunteer to marry him and the girl had a hard time to make a decision thinking of art as extraordinary experience and permanent residence as ordinary life

 

Then, the success of Echigo Tsumari led to The Setouchi International Art Festival. However, Setouchi has a background that is different from Echigo Tsmnari. Setouchi already had Benesse Art Site Naoshima, one of the handful Meccas of contemporary art in Japan.   When Benesse Art Site Naoshima was opened, only tens of people per day visited the facility. However, the foresight of Mr. Fukutake who supported Naoshima with patient and secure management as well as the corporate efforts contributed to the success of Naoshima.  Naoshima is different from Echigo Tsumari in a sense that Echigo Tsumari is fully democratic and experimental project launched in an under-populated area, while Naoshima is rather a commercial project. This should be considered when we discuss any similar art project going forward.

http ://setouchi-artfest.jp/en/

http://www.benesse-artsite.jp/en/

 

Other local independent / self-directive project:

http://www.beppuproject.com/

An example of successful museum:

http://www.city.towada.lg.jp/artstowada/eng/index.html

※This museum permanently holds art works as part of its collection, and considers the architecture as a box to protect the art works. With that radical concept, the museum remains in surplus backed with the values of the art works held by the museum, which is exceptional among other museums in Japan.

 

On the contrary, Aomori Museum of Art was established with a huge amount of money that was a part of subsidies relating to the nuclear power plant. Ironically, Aomori Museum of Art is located close to Echigo.

http://www.aomori-museum.jp/en/index.html

Now, I would like to add the point that the structures of Echigo Tsumari and The Setouchi International Art Festival are also committed to the way of the old generation. That is a story of the resurgence of pilgrimage. The pilgrimage is seen not only in Japan but also in many other countries The pilgrimage is considered to remain in connection with self-discipline (or in other words, learning). In Japan, the Shikoku Pilgrimage, a multi-site pilgrimage of 88 temples is well known. It is interesting that the area where the Setouchi International Art Festival is held has many things in common with the Shikoku Pilgrimage. To come right to the point, the Setouchi International Art Festival takes over the function of religious “power spot” and becomes a new pilgrimage destination with quality art works. This attracts many visitors and revitalizes the industry and culture. This can also be a subject of research in cultural anthropology.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shikoku_Pilgrimage

Example: Santiago de Compostela

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santiago de Compostela#Way of St. James

Example: Pilgrimage to Mecca

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hajj

 

Lastly, I would like to talk about the disaster we experienced in our country. Please look at the slide. This photo was taken on April 24th. We donated bicycles that can deliver water and heating oil in the disaster area that were produced in a project called VITALFOOT that I started with some friends. The sight in the disaster area made us speechless. We were struck by the power of Tsunami that engulfed even the fourth floor of a building rather than collapse of buildings caused by the earthquake itself.  This kindergarten in Ofunato City is located on a small hill and could get away from the disaster. The children at this kindergarten were safe because the school bus driver used his wit to go back to the hill right after the earthquake. However, there were many kids on the bus from other areas who were engulfed by the sea. The catastrophe by Tsunami was caused by ignoring the signs by our ancestors, such as “don’t build a house lower than this stone monument”. Therefore, we could say that it was not only a natural disaster but the arrogance of people that caused the tragedy.

http://vitalfoot.jp/

 

And then the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident occurled. In fact, that was also a human-made disaster caused by different elements of human psychology, such as not making rational and subjective judgments. Therefore, we cannot blame the nature or the earth as a cause of the disaster. RADIKAL AQUA to be presented at this exhibition conveys the message that everything is attributable to excessive desire of human beings.

 

Whether human beings could reach the democratic concept of sharing by giving up the ideas of spoliation and monopoly and stop running about seeking for energy resources, and whether artists can face the instinct of human beings on the edge of those issues, I think those are the questions we need to address. I would like to end this keynote speech hoping that the future depicted in “The World Without Us” by Alan Weisman will not come true, and the day will not come when today becomes “Nostalgia”.

 

Thank you all for your attention today.

 

February 18, 2012

Noboru Tsubaki

Japanese Artist, Professor of the Kyoto University of Art and Design, Promoter of the Kyoto Artist Summit

 

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