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Viewers Are Part of the Show at the Yokohama Triennale (October 25, 2005)

Daniel Buren
Photo-souvenir: "On the Waterfront: 16,150 Flames", work in situ for Yokohama Triennale 2005, detail © D.B.
Photo by Shigeo Anzai, Japan Foundation (Organizing Committee for the Yokohama Triennale)
From September 28 to December 18, 2005, Yokohama is hosting an ambitious arts festival featuring the works of around 80 artists from around the world and located along the port city's spectacular waterfront. Yokohama 2005: International Triennale of Contemporary Art is the second event of its kind, following on from the inaugural event in 2001. In addition to Japan, the artists hail from 30 countries, including China, Egypt, France, the Netherlands, the Philippines, and South Africa. The event's director is the Japanese artist Kawamata Tadashi.

Pier Appeal
The site of the Triennale, designed by four teams of young architects appointed by Kawamata, is part of the exhibition's appeal. The art is displayed in two large warehouses at the end of a pier in Yokohama, from where two of the city's best-known landmarks, the Yokohama Bay Bridge and Marine Tower, can be seen. For many visitors, getting to the waterfront is also part of the fun, as the walk to the pier passes through a picturesque part of downtown Yokohama, and performances will emphasize "involvement with the site." Between watching the shows, visitors can take a break at an international "village" of stalls, a collection of cafes and restaurants serving cuisine from various countries.

Villa Kaihoutei, Tazuo Niscino. Photo by Keizo Kioku, Japan Foundation (Organizing Committee for the Yokohama Triennale)

The title of this year's event is "Art Circus (Jumping from the Ordinary)." The concept is for visitors not only to view the artwork but to play a role in it, with many of the works requiring the participation of the audience. Such works include interactive installations that change with the involvement of the community, including one titled "Work in Progress."

In the promotional material for the events, the organizers assert that they want to stage a dialogue-like exhibition that transcends the barriers between viewers on the one hand and exhibitors and performers on the other. In keeping with that aim, the event is more of a lively festival than a static exhibition. A wide variety of programs has been drawn up, including performances, symposia, film and video screenings, community workshops, talk shows, and games. Many of the artworks are transformed or altered even after the festival begins, making it impossible to see everything at the show even after numerous visits.

"The Yokohama 2005 venue will be defined as a place where - even after the opening of the exhibition - something is always happening, often simultaneously, so that visitors see 'the exhibition' as an aggregate of all of these elements," Kawamata says in his message on the show's official Web page. "Like a circus, all sorts of things will come leaping out onto 'the stage' in quick succession, coming together in front of the audience to offer observers a range of experiences."

Bestseller, Shintai Hyougen circle. Photo by bob, Japan Foundation (Organizing Committee for the Yokohama Triennale)

An example of this is the installation by Abe Taisuke, a resident of Oita Prefecture known for his use of old clothes to make stuffed toys. He will continuously create toys throughout the Yokohama exhibition, thereby expanding the scale of his exhibit. The Shintai Hyougen Circle (Physical Expression Club), meanwhile, is staging startling performances in which the dancers, dressed in loincloths, bump and become tangled into each other.

Overnight Art
Not all the exhibits are taking place in the warehouses. Some are staged in pleasant outdoor settings, such as nearby Yamashita Park, for the enjoyment of Yokohama's residents and tourists.

One artwork is appreciated by having the viewers spend the night with it. The exhibit, titled "Villa Kaihoutei" (Hotel Villa) is the work of Niscino Tazuo, a Japanese artist who resides in Germany. The structure is based on a Chinese-style arbor, which has long occupied the park. Niscino has transformed it into a hotel by covering it with construction materials and equipping it with a bath and furniture. The overnight stays are limited to one group per day, and take place in Yamashitacho Park in Yokohama's Chinatown. Admission is free, although the overnight accommodation is already booked solid for the duration of the event.

All in all, it looks like visitors to the Yokohama Triennale will be treated to an inspiring range of artistic experiences.

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Copyright (c) 2005 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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