I have been in Japan for the last five days! I arrived on Monday and it has been action packed. I have met with galleries and been to a ton of Ikebana floristry classes but more about that later.
On Tuesday, the day after I arrived I met with the Public Programmes department at Mori Art Museum. They were extremely nice and kindly took some time to talk with me. When I arrived at the gallery there was a queue going through two floors and outside to get into their exhibition The Universe and Art: Princess Kaguya, Leonardo da Vinci, teamLab
July 30, 2016 – January 9, 2017.
I had been asked me to prepare a presentation about my work at Turner Contemporary and Crate. Their department are in the midst of redesigning their public programme and they were about to visit the U.K. and Margate as part of their research. We talked a lot about our respective audiences and methods of engaging those audiences.
Artists from Margate kindly gave me publications of their work to give as gifts to the galleries I am visiting in Japan. I gave Mori Art Museum a selection of these from artists Newton Whitelaw, Heather Tait, Jo Murray, Steven Alan, Dan Thompson, Selina Mayer, Julia Riddiough and Benedict Drew. I have another stack to give to Kochi Museum of Art next week. Thank you to all of you for donating these.
Mori Art Museum is a bit like the Tate Modern except that it has changing exhibitions. They are right in the middle of Tokyo on the 53rd floor of a massive tower so their audience is very different to the community based one in Margate. A few things that struck me as really interesting in their programme and different from what we do at Turner Contemporary and Crate. They do a lot of artists talks with their work, I think this is really nice way to illuminate art work for visitors. They also produce a lot of symposiums, talking about ideas and art for an academic audience. I think there is scope for this in Margate, perhaps partnerships between organisations and something we don’t do currently.
The exhibition The Universe and Art was brilliant. They had the original manuscript for the Princess Kaguya story. It is a 10th-century Japanese monogatari (fictional prose narrative) containing folkloric elements. The story is considered the oldest extant Japanese prose narrative although the oldest manuscript dates to 1592. The tale is the story of the life of a mysterious girl called Kaguya-hime, who was discovered as a baby inside the stalk of a glowing bamboo plant.
Another brilliant work was by artist Bjorn Dalhem, his work Black Hole (M-Spheres) Planetary Tree, installed in front of an view over Tokyo the lights from the work reflected in the window creating shapes and frames over the skyline.
The final work in the exhibition was by a group called teamLab. I have never been in an installation like it. The walls and floors were covered by a projection (I think I counted 10 projectors on the ceiling). I can only really describe it as like being in a tracentnal scene in a video game. The music was soaring and the projection rushed through the room. The effect was an incredibly strong feeling of euphoria, like the feeling when are going really fast on a roller coaster.