Held every two years, the Tokyo Biennale is an international art festival that sets the city of Tokyo as its main stage. The festival is a new type of event that aims to dig deep into the city, as it is created together with the area’s local citizens, as well as a wide variety of artists and creators from around the world.
|Name||Tokyo Biennale 2023 - An International Art Festival Originating in Local Areas of Tokyo|
Summer Period: July - September 2023 (public project process)
Fall Period: September 23 - November 5, 2023 (exhibition of results)
|Venue||Northeast area of central Tokyo (area spanning the four wards of Chiyoda-ku, Chuo-ku, Bunkyo-ku, and Taito-ku) (As of March 24, 2023)|
|Organizer||General Non-Profit Incorporated Organization Tokyo Biennale|
Supported by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan, through the Japan Arts Council, Fiscal Year 2023
The Tokyo Biennale aims at creating activities to become events shared by everyone through many kinds of encounters made between us all.
New groups of people have gathered in the area comprising of local citizens with deep roots, as well as those from all over Japan and the entire world. While all kinds of people are living, working, and enjoying the cosmopolitan city of Tokyo, art is what connects them from across different backgrounds as it brings to life our neighborhoods’ histories and draws out the future. From here, the concept of “us” emerges and each person may even discover a new “me.”
Under the theme of “Create Linkage,” the key words are “art x community x industry” as we work with people in the area to build our own culture in our own place with activities surrounding the concepts of “HISTORY & FUTURE,” “EDUCATION,” “WELL-BEING,” and “RESILIENCY.” The Tokyo Biennale is a celebration for the new city and culture that we ourselves will build.
HISTORY & FUTURE
The future cannot be discussed without knowing the memories left in the places where we live. Starting with bringing up the memories from Edo’s history and culture, problems in contemporary society will be drawn out in order to think about the future. In turn, the future will be visualized through memories hidden in history.
Tokyo Biennale will become the catalyst for actualizing STEAM (skills of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics), which integrates fields that are usually held separate in our education system. Through the programming, students of all types of fields will cooperate and become involved with local citizens, which will result in the nurturing of human resources adept at problem-solving.
WELL-BEING refers to the good physical, emotional, and social state of individuals. In society, this is the continued state of political, economic, cultural, and environmental wellness. Tokyo Biennale will think in-depth about both the WELL-BEING of “me” and “us.”
The old saying goes that “Fires and fights are Edo’s flowers,” referring to the town firemen at the core of the disaster prevention community. Edo’s disaster prevention holds deep roots in its local communities. Through Tokyo Biennale, connections between local communities will be revived as a measure towards a society capable of action in cases of disaster.
TOKYO BIENNALE 2023 THEME
It was 1993, and I was in the Ginza area of Tokyo, working on a guerrilla art project. I quietly placed a solid iron sculpture on the side of a back alley in the 8-Chome district. It was about 50 cm tall and too heavy for one person to lift. I set up the sculpture in order to understand the tolerance of the space on the side of the street. However, after placing the object, I became concerned about the possibility of it being moved or even removed, so I chained it to a sign pole. An ordinary roadside was thus transformed into a place with a considerable sense of tension. By placing something extremely private in a public space, I wanted to explore the relationship between the two.
Many years later, now I understand that in order for a personal act to be fully accepted in a public space, many connections have to be made. Negotiations and considerations are needed with related organizations, including getting permission from sidewalk administration, confirming the intentions of neighboring building managers, shop owner associations or city councils; also to be considered are safety management measures in the event of a disaster, funding of the installation as well as the history and public image of the area. One could place an object guerrilla-style without worrying about these relationships, but if one coordinated and connected the many stakeholders in the location, then it could be installed in a way that was also legally acceptable. Perhaps it was because back then these relationships didn’t come to mind, that I was able to act so boldly.
————Remarks by Masato Nakamura in 2022, from a conversation with Min Nishihara regarding the exhibition “THE GINBURART”(1933)
The fact that the subtle tension over a single work of art creates a new value in the public space of the city means not only a new immediate linkage, but also a discovery of the overall relationships within the city, to which it connects and which it thus changes. The appearance of something “individual” within the city will be seen as a new experience or event different from how it was before. The establishing of new relationships through exposure of hard-to-see connections changes the nature of the “individuality,” and will allow it to be accepted as something socially concrete.
The theme of the second Tokyo Biennale 2023 is “Create Linkage.” Linkage is a “relationship” that is found not only in human relations, but also in the ever-changing physical world we live in, in which all kinds of entities, including places, time, people, organisms, plants, events, things, and information, are intricately related to each other.
One of the social roles of art today may be its ability to relate to changes in the social environment due to the Corona pandemic from a free perspective. Based on this trust in the “power of connection” through art, the Tokyo Biennale 2023 will be a place where artists, companies, communities, participants and visitors become aware of the “linkages” that surround them and create new connections to join in.
The Tokyo Biennale aims to become the foundation of activities to create linkages that will last for the next 100 years, as these linkages through art shed light on the formation process of the underlying culture of Edo Tokyo and the local communities.
Born 1963 in Odate City, Akita, Japan. Professor at Tokyo University of the Arts (Department of Painting). A socially aware artist pushing forth diverse art projects with focus on “art x community x industry.” In the early 1990’s, he set up guerilla art projects – “THE GINBURART” in Ginza and “Sinjuku Shonen Art” in Shinjuku’s Kabukicho district (1993). From 1996 on, the artist caught global attention by transforming corporate identities into artworks, one major example being the McDonald’s golden arches. In 1997, he formed an alternative artist initiative called “Command N.” Activities of this group include the international video installation “Akihabara TV” held multiple years in 1999, 2000, and 2002. His work was displayed in the 49th Venice Biennale (2001) Japan Pavilion “First & Slow” exhibition. From 2004, he founded a number of art projects including “himming” in Himi (Toyama Pref.) and “ZERODATE” in Odate (Akita Pref.) Nakamura then founded 3331 Arts Chiyoda in June 2010 as an independent and sustainable art center. Through Command N and 3331, Nakamura has founded 10 art bases and held 740 art projects, in addition to overseeing close to 3,100 events with the collaboration of 2,000 artists, 180 core staff members, and 1,350 supporting staff/volunteers. With an extensive background in a variety of expressive activities, starting in summer 2020 he is taking on the challenge of developing the Tokyo Biennale, an art festival that will dig for the cultural and artistic resources underlying the city of Tokyo.
A Clinical psychotherapist and independent curator, she organized “Gutai 1955/56” (1993), “Fo(u)rtunes” (1994), and “NEW LIFE” (1999) in the 1990s. After moving to the U.S., she worked as a social worker and clinical psychotherapist in Los Angeles while organizing community-based exhibitions and art projects at various locations, including residences, senior centers, and domestic violence shelters. Since 2018, she has been based in Japan, where she organizes workshops supporting artists and creators and focuses on community care through art projects. Her major projects since returning to Japan include the “Early '90s Tokyo Art Squad” (2019) and “TONARI (neighborhood)” project (2019-). Currently a Professor at Akita University of Art. Representative of Counseling Center for Artists' Mind and Life, Cushion (Care for Caregivers).
|General Directors||Masato Nakamura, Min Nishihara|
|Project Producer||Shinobu Nakanishi|
Satoshi Iwama, Kazuko Koike
|Creative Director||Naoki Sato|
|Communication Director||Susumu Namikawa|
|PR Director||Naoko Wakabayashi|
|Media Liaison||Motoko Imada|
|International Liaison||Daniel Baburek|
|WEB Directors||Susumu Namikawa, Takao Neko|
|Editorial Director||Shinichi Uchida|
|Art Director||Tomonori Ozaki|
|Project Manager||Yuko Morita|
|Project Coordinators||Tomoko Kawakami, Miwako Ishikawa, Sayaka Iwamoto, Chikaru Yoshioka, Mai Kishimoto|
|Website production (GYOKU inc.)||Yuta Kuda (Director), Masaru Sakihara (Director), Mitsunori Morita (Designer), Chie Kikuzato (Front-end engineer), Kazushige Nakayoshi (Front-end Engineer)|