Tokyo Biennale 2020 Theme :
PURITY × EARNESTNESS × DEVIATION
What are the reasons that painted cloth and lumps of iron are said to be “art”?
Generally sublime famous paintings, sculpture, opera, and dance, things of very high value, or acts that no one can imitate are said to be “art.” But why are they said to be so?
What is the difference between “art” and “something that is not art”? Furthermore, the person who makes this is called by the special term of“artist.”
Generally speaking, what is it they can do, that allows them to be called this? Also, what is the reason to have to use the special term of“art brut”?
I will raise three keywords to unravel these things.
The first is purity, such as “pure art” or “fine art” is said to be. Even among various types of creativity, to feel the dignity of a sublime mentality or a richness of spirit, is said to be “pure.” This is contrasted with popular, commercial, and contrived acts, and in accordance with the grade of purity a keen sense of humanity is felt.
The second is earnestness, such as when people find themselves in an extreme situation, and they cannot help but perform. An act or expression, which, like living, is something you just have to do. For example, when a person loses their family, home, and money in an earthquake and they have nothing, the act of starting life again is very e a r n e s t.
The third is deviation; when a person with this pure mentality and tireless earnestness in their acts of expression creates something unique, a deviation of previously existing things or expressive acts occurs. Especially a thing that was not outstanding suddenly begins changing, and at a certain point acquires the presence of deviation. This creative process in deviation is important.
When earnest, pure acts or expressions acquire the presence of deviation, I feel they reach a state that can only be called “art”.
I sometimes feel “art” in things drawn quickly and casually on paper with a pencil, but may not feel this at all in the grandiose buildings that took dozens of years to build. It is my theory, but this is because one of these three “purity”,“earnestness”, or “deviation” is missing. No matter how expensive the materials used are, when it doesn’t feel “pure”, I cannot say it is “art”. If an expression is not “earnest”, even if it is technically superior, it does not rouse human charm. And even if the state of expression is “pure” and “earnest”, if there is no “deviation”, I can only take it as normal expression.
I want to throw the concept drawn from these three terms of “Purity” x “Earnestness” x “Deviation” and their crossing, into a framework for new visions we call, “Tokyo Biennale”. Japan has experienced the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, areas of Tokyo burned to the ground during the air raids of the Second World War, and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident caused by the Great Tohoku Earthquake. In Japan where there is repeated destruction and construction, the various frameworks and social contexts arising “between man and matter” served to create the social capital between “me” – the “individual” and “us” – the “collective” that I wish to continue building. In this pursuit, the “Purity” x “Earnestness” x “Deviation” inside the “me” who works and lives here, which can be termed as a “physical cultural asset”, serves as the roots towards evolving into “us”. This is the idea that will create the new “Tokyo Biennale”. In other words, each project held within the Tokyo Biennale will overcome the wall of “me” as an opportunity for a one-point breakthrough in all directions, driving a deadlocked Tokyo into new metabolism. Moreover, the citizen’s perspective, a diverse “us” not just about pushing for something or simple joys, but a “culture that is ours” and a “place that is ours”, will continue to emerge as an organization. That is what all of “us” in the Tokyo Biennale Citizens Committee believe to be the “Tokyo Biennale” of the next era.