Event report: talk series at Hikarie featuring Toshiki Abe and Fram Kitagawa

Posted : December 2, 2017

The last series of talk at Hikarie welcomed Toshiki Abe, representative of Ridilover Inc. In addition to Ridilover's activity organising tours to experience social issues, Abe is a researcher specialising in complex system at Takashi Ikegami Lab at Graduate School of Tokyo University. The talk between Abe, who was once a fisherman on tune clipper asking direct questions from diverse angles and Fram Kitagawa who hit back these questions with profound answers was like looking at a live mach of table tennis.

The first question Abe asked was "Mr Kitagawa, you are regarded as one of the most influential figures in contemporary art scene in Japan but why?". Kitagawa answered by saying "it is a manipulation by those who want me to be a targe of critisism. I just brought contemporary art to regions which was then believed to belong only to the big cities, continued the initiative by overcoming many obstables and the region eventually transformed. Such change has certain influence not only in Japan but also other countries and regions in Asia where gap between region and city get wider rapidly. However, our approach to art which is opposed to the conventional understanding of art promoted by the established art society in Japan must have been frustrating to them. We believe art could be something more than "European art" which has been over-rated and consumed by the art establishment in Japan. I feel like I am trying to realise my ideal or rather being Don Quijote." Abe was simply surprised the change that Echigo-Tsumari experienced: It was once the region where the suicide rate of the elderly people was highest in Japan.

When Abe asked about paradox that art holds on "welfare" and "art by socially challenged people" which prompted to discuss how the value of art is set. Art was once "movable property" which crated value as they were traded on the market. However, roles between art and audience has shifted. People have begun to explore and visit site-specific art which is immobile, usually presented in "art festival". Kitagawa said Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale is a pioneer of "touring art festival" and could be argued that it has established a platform for expansion of what United Nation promotes "sustainable tourism". Abe agreed that "it is the way to bring a peace to the world. I have a strong faith that we can achieve the world witouth conflict if we could set up a system of providing opporutnity to experience life for duration in a place which holds completely different set of values from your own." - which revealed the reasons behind study tours he has organised so far.

They then talked about diverse topis inculding sience, the origin of the space, autism, mural of Altamira cave, and issue of creativity until the last question "does ETAT attract people who appreciate art that was found interesting by Fram Kitagawa or is it because what Fram Kitagawa thinks interesting has universality and thus bring people?". Kitagawa said "what I feel is to some extent shared by many others. That is why I can be connected to the other people. Which leads to a question of what is "peer"? He then talked how stunned he was when his encounter with piano by Yosuke Yamashita about 50 years ago when he started pursuing art himself. He thought "I wished I knew this piano (play) much earlier. If I listened when I was small living in the country side, my life would have been much richer now" and that made him determined to become who he is now - a person behind music and art which touches people's heart."

"Art and music can change people. Spontaneous mutation could happen. There could be another society. Art in the region brings such experience in reality" Kitagawa said with a footage of Yosuke Yamashita playing piano in barricade on the screen. The two-week long series of talks finished by Abe saying "I am encouraged to see you still running today with a passion you had 50 years ago."