Shodoshima Project of Setouchi Triennale
The Setouchi Triennale takes place within the framework of Art Setouchi which continues every year. Art Setouchi has forged lasting connections with local communities and generated unique initiatives which are contributing to restoration of the sea.(* https://setouchi-artfest.jp/en/about/)
Following this outer frame, Shodoshima, one of the largest island of Setouchi inner sea has developed its unique character through this continuous project from 2010 to 2016, which also made a successful economic effect by the direction of Tsubaki as the reginal director. The main theme of the project was ”Relational tourism”. It was not making a new touristy entertainment but also reviving the great culture with local people and create long-lasting relationships with visitors. In order to research the area and bring out full potential of local history, culture, geography, and residences, firstly, Tsubaki sent architects and designers to plan the basement of the project. Afterward, artist-in-residence, community center, new bakery and cafes , convenient logistics from other cities, hostels, public arts, festivals; every components based on the local culture was arranged by the creators.
Setouchi Triennale 2013
Setouchi Triennale 2016
Tsubaki’s Note from Shodoshima Project 2016
Zheng He, an eunuch of the great influence in the Yongle court during the Ming dynasty, left for his final voyage in December 1431 in his 60s. He arrived at Hormuz after two years from the departure, and a contingent continued sailing to East Africa, dropped anchor at different ports in South Arabia and then reached Mecca. After he returned to China in July 1433,the Ming shifted to an inward foreign policy, and the great dream of Zheng He – naval expedition to the South Seas – failed to be inherited by the next generation. About a century later, Vasco da Gama died in Cochin on 25 December 1524. He was the first person to find a maritime route to sail from Portugal to India through Africa and contributed to establish Portugal’s great maritime empire.
Standing with my back to Anish Kapoor’s installation artwork, an endless black cloudy water vortex with a roaring sound peeping into the world from a harbor at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, I thought about Africa’s soil that lies across the Arabian Sea and imagined the maritime routes sailed by these two people who changed the world – one from the east and another from the west. In January 2015, we visited an art biennale in Kochi in the state of Kerala on the south coast of India to find Indian artists who we wish to invite to participate in the Setouchi Triennale 2016.
As we all know, the tremendous economic growth in the 20th century brought us an unprecedented crisis. Today in our every-day-life, we face with tragedies of global environmental issues that dissolve borders between nations and ethnicities in the negative way, such as unignorable global warming, the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant that affect ecosystems in the north hemisphere, and the air pollution caused by emissions from factories traveling overseas, among others.
Blaming human’s greed for this situation or tending toward fatalism would be an easy way to respond to this situation. Becoming a hero by denunciating the situation through artworks would not be a contemporary way of responding to it. The Kochi-Muziris Biennale tried to respond to this challenge. On the opening day of the biennale, only about 10% of the artworks were presented due to insufficient budget, and the artists worked diligently encouraged by the energy of the residents who are usually distant from art. The very first work greeting the visitors being Eames’ “Power of Ten” may be banal but gives off a brilliance in this place where the East and the West meet.
Why did it have to be India? Why was it Kochi? This could be answered with a question, as Kapoor ironically posed and also mentioned earlier, - Where at all will we end up after this egoism prevailing on a global scale. I also had a certain expectation about the relief of India, which also contributed to a limited extent to choose India as the destination.
Now I would like to give a brief introduction of the participating artists. (For detailed information about individual artists, please see the handouts.) Indian Institute of Technology that is known for its state of the art facility for the research on Artificial Intelligence (AI). The art scene in Mumbai that encompasses the art scene of Europe and Asia. Ayurveda and yoga that attract celebrities all over the world. The word ”Chaos” would not be enough to accurately describe the traffic in Delhi. A small graphic novel by Sarnath Banerjee describes the profound chaos as a contemporary poem.
Influenced by the Baroda Group, a progressive institution that wanted to distance itself from its colonial predecessors, Sosa Joseph’s painting that quietly depicts everyday life of people (especially women) in India attracts the viewers to stay gazing at the painting. Avoiding the self-assertion, his painting depicting women peacefully living together beyond religion with animals such as goats, donkeys and cats, fish and birds is calm and impresses the people living their lives full of fights and struggles.
Pors & Rao is an artist unit started working together in Italy in 2004. Their multidisciplinary art practice draws on knowledge of mechanical and electronic engineering, programming, and manufacturing, and at the same time is humane watching over like angels the future of the AI and robotics with irony. Smartphones are mobile terminals of advanced AI, and whether we want or not, inevitably we need to think how we live together with them.
Sahej Rahal, the youngest of them at the age of 27, is an artist based in Mumabi and garners significant attention in the contemporary art scene in India. In the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, he presented an impressive spectacular installation and a simple performance art film where he tried to tell a new legend based on a history of Japanese films and video games. It would be very interesting to see what this young artist has installed in a huge rice warehouse in Shodoshima.