角川武蔵野ミュージアム

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Photo:Kenshu Shintsubo

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“Amabie in the age of Covid-19” project

“Amabie in the age of Covid-19” project

Covid-19 has been raging around the world since 2020, and it still continues to torment people in 2021. One character that has attracted attention through posts on social media and various other communication platforms in the course of the crisis, is a yokai known as Amabie. It first surfaced in the sea off Kumamoto in the late Tokugawa period, and is said to have predicted the epidemic. In the newly launched ”Amabie project,” a number of artists use their imagination and unique powers of expression, to create works themed on “Amabie in the age of Covid-19.”
Volume 1 features a giant painting of “Amabie in the age of Covid-19” by Makoto Aida, exhibited in the 2F entrance lobby!

“Amabie in the age of Covid-19” project, Volume 1: Makoto Aida

“From the fact that I was approached with the request to create a work themed around Amabie, a topic that first came up and spread around the Internet more than half a year ago, I guess I am expected to offer some kind of amplification or deviation that would be typical for a contemporary artist. Although being aware of such expectations, I thought that someone should go ahead and offer a straight kind of illustration first, so I decided to step forward as the leadoff batter. I made this work as an amulet of sorts, to be put on the wall of this museum that set off in a year that will probably go down as a landmark in history.”


Makoto Aida

Born 1965 in Niigata. Graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts, Graduate School of Fine Arts, in 1991. Has been active in various creative fields including painting, photography, video, sculpture, performance, novels, essays and manga. Through images characterized by unconventional correlations and sharp criticism, ranging from girls to war scenes and office workers, he arbitrarily crosses the social and historical boundaries between contemporary and pre-modern, eastern and western, and enjoys overwhelming support from fans of all ages. Recent exhibitions include ”Monument for Nothing” (Mori Art Museum / Tokyo, 2012-13), “The Non-Thinker” (Château des ducs de Bretagne / France, 2014), and “GROUND NO PLAN"(Aoyama Crystal Hall / Tokyo, 2018). His second novel Geisai was published in 2020 by Bungei Shunju.

On the “Amabie in the age of Covid-19” project

Mankind has always been tormented by infection diseases, which in some cases resulted in large numbers of deaths. Among them are the likes of Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt, who lost their lives due to the Spanish flu one hundred years ago. Like other viruses, the novel coronavirus is not only invisible, but when remaining undetected for a certain period of time, it becomes increasingly difficult to grasp the magnitude of its expansion. In addition, early discovery is difficult, which makes it a particularly troublesome disease. It has so far taken countless lives in Japan and elsewhere in the world, and judging by its character, it seems that we will have to live with this virus for some time. Many feel insecure, and that anxiety sometimes escalates to an extent that it makes people attack others, as a result of which society is in the unstable situation of being on the brink of becoming a place where people no longer feel comfortable. On the other hand, there are those who feel the effects on an internal, mental level, as a crushingly heavy burden that involuntarily drives them into seclusion. We have supported the creation and formation of narratives of hope and confidence, for people to become able to live with these feelings of insecurity, and in order to protect themselves, their families, and their communities from this epidemic. Against the backdrop of the spread of Covid-19, the yokai known as Amabie has attracted large numbers of people, and it seems that it is the anxiety of people that has called it in the first place. Amabie (a variation of “Amabiko” as some suggest), which is said to have surfaced in the sea off Kumamoto in the late Tokugawa period, has not really helped end an epidemic. It only suggested that there will be good things ahead, before disappearing back into the ocean, but that was enough to make it a savior. For us, who seek to understand the world through science, amulets may be mere objects of superstition, but what they can do, is to cause changes in our feelings. That strangely laid-back design on the kawaraban (single-page block print newspaper) of Amabie that is in the possession of Kyoto University, has attracted the masses, and seeing how it inspires all kinds of people to express themselves, is an experience that seems to underscore the fact that design definitely has the power to move people.

Schedule for the “Amabie in the age of Covid-19” project

Rather than a remake of a previous Amabie, what I would like to see is a “contemporary Amabie” that provides some kind of change for us living and experiencing the insecurities of the age of Covid-19. It doesn’t necessarily have to be called Amabie. I think it is through seeing “something” that exceeds our existence and our imagination, that I think our eyes will probably be turned toward the future. This is what inspired us to launch a project at the Kadokawa Culture Museum for which we invited artists to exert their skills, and create images of the future for the museum to display to the world. 


“Amabie in the age of Covid-19” project 
General information
Time: November 2020 – December 2021 (TBC) 
Place: Kadokawa Culture Museum (interior & exterior locations) 

*Exhibition periods and venues vary by artist
Exhibited in a relay style are works by six exceptionally talented artists that have been attracting attention not only domestically but also internationally, on themes such as “hope,” “anxiety,” “repose of souls,” “wishes” and “love.”

Exhibition schedule (planned)
November 2020- (original drawings), and late April (banners): Makoto Aida “Picture of Amabie: Pandemic Evacuation”
January 2021-: Tomoko Konoike “Musashino Kawa Tonbi”
April 2021-: Hideaki Kawashima
July 2021-: Haruka Kojin 
August 2021-: Oscar Oiwa
October 2021-: Secret Artist !

Artists

Makoto Aida
Born 1965 in Niigata. Graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts, Graduate School of Fine Arts, in 1991. Has been active in various creative fields including painting, photography, video, sculpture, performance, novels, essays and manga. Through images characterized by unconventional correlations and sharp criticism, ranging from girls to war scenes and office workers, he arbitrarily crosses the social and historical boundaries between contemporary and pre-modern, eastern and western, and enjoys overwhelming support from fans of all ages. Recent exhibitions include ”Monument for Nothing” (Mori Art Museum / Tokyo, 2012-13), “The Non-Thinker” (Château des ducs de Bretagne / France, 2014), and “GROUND NO PLAN” (Aoyama Crystal Hall / Tokyo, 2018). His second novel Geisai was published in 2020 by Bungei Shunju.


Tomoko Konoike
Born 1960 in Akita. Having initially worked in the fields of toys and accessories, she continues to fundamentally reexamine “art” through site-specific works across a variety of media, which sometimes even involve weather conditions, since 1997. Recent solo exhibitions include “Primitive Violence” (Kanagawa Kenmin Hall Gallery, 2015), “Hunter Gatherer” (Akita Museum of Modern Art, 2018), “Fur Story” (Leeds Arts University / UK, 2020) and “FLIP” (Artizon Museum, 2020).


Hideaki Kawashima
Born 1969 in Aichi. After graduating from Tokyo Zokei University in 1991, spent two years from 1995 doing Buddhist ascetic training at Enryakuji on Mt. Hieizan, before launching his career as an artist in 2001. One consistent aspect in his work from the beginning has been the confrontation with self-consciousness, which has been producing images of faces with delicately complex expressions, and mesmerizing, strongly sorrowful looking eyes, painted while making clever use of heart-stirring color gradations. Has been showing his works in numerous exhibitions in Japan and abroad, including the one-man shows ”youth” (Tomio Koyama Gallery, 2018) and “Back and Forth” (Richard Heller Gallery / USA, 2014). 
 

Haruka Kojin 
Born 1983 in Hiroshima. Graduated in Intermedia Art from the Graduate School of Fine Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts, in 2009. Intuitively extracts ”extraordinary spaces” from sceneries of everyday life, and reconstructs them as phenomena by way of installations displayed at art museums and other exhibition venues in Japan and abroad, such as The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, the Centre Pompidou-Metz, and others. At present, her work is on permanent display as part of the “Art House Project” in Inujima. Exhibitions with the contemporary art team “mé” that she founded in 2013, include ”Unreliable Reality – The Where of This World” (Shiseido Gallery / Tokyo, 2014), “Day with a Man's Face Floating in the Sky” (Utsunomiya Museum of Art Outreach Project), and “Obviously, no one can make heads nor tails” (Chiba City Museum of Art). Received the 28th Takashimaya Art Award from the Takashimaya Cultural Foundation in 2018.


Oscar Oiwa 
Born 1965. Painter and contemporary artist from Brazil. Member of “The Group 1965” of artists. Graduated from the University of Sao Paulo, Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning. Born and raised by his Japanese parents in Sao Paulo. Although he majored in architecture at university, his exposure to art from an early age inspired him to start working as an artist himself. Shifted his base to Tokyo in 1991 when he was in his mid-20s, and continued to work in Japan for eleven years until moving to New York in 2002.
Date 2020/11/06[Fri] 〜 2021/10/31[Sun]
Dates and venues 2F Information
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