Event report: talk series at Hikarie featuring editor-in-chief of Bijutsu Techo, OZ Magazine, and Discover Japan

2018 TRIENNALEEVENT REPORTPosted : December 20, 2017

The theme for the talk event on 24 November 2017 was "art festival seen from media perspective".
We had the privilege of having three editor-in-cheif including Teiya Iwabuchi of Bijutsu Techo, Toshihiro Takahashi of Discover Japan and Makoto Furukawa of OZmagazine who were able to share their views on the art festival from their media in different genre.

Furukawa invited to start dialogue with the other two and Iwabuchi took over by giving a short lecture on the ETAT. He explained how the ETAT was different from other international art festivals by highlighting its sites for artworks as well as regionality. He also mentioned that contemporary art was emerged as a part of urban culture in the way that it presents most up-to-date expressions to audience who are based in a big city. To this end, the ETAT which attracts local elderly was on the total opposit on the spectrum. Takahashi who has been visiting countryside and different regions across Japan described "art as a catalyst to highlight charm of a region". He said that the uniquness of the ETAT is how the presence of art has transformed the landscape which then invited people to visit and rediscover the alternative landscape.

Iwabuchi then asked a pressing question "Does Discover Japan featuring art festivals sell well?". The answer was yes. On the contrary, it has become a challenge for Bijutsu Techo to make it different from other media featuring art festivals. According to him the international art festivals have gained popularity as an entertainment amongst wider audience in recent years. Furukawa also agreed that "subscribers of OZ magazine don't go to museums but rather consume art festivals as one of the events they have an access to. We as a media may well be guilty of making people think "art festivals are happening everywhere". "Journey through art", the editorial direction that OZ magazine took in 2009 has a great influence on other media.

They then moved onto exchange their thoughts on entertaining festivals and artworks. Ones got high regards were Reborn Art Festival and Setouchi Art Triennale although some were not necessarily successful in engaging locals. Takahashi picked up "The Rice Field" by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov and "Tsumari in Bloom" by Yayoi Kusama as symbolic artworks whereas Iwabuchi chose "The Last Class" by Christian Boltanski. Furukawa also mentioned "The Lasd Class" as well as "The School of Akakura" by Navin Rawanchaikul+Navin Production and these artworks often make him interested in learning more about artists' intentions, background and their cultures. Iwabuchi pointed out that ETAT turns many abandoned houses and closed schools into artworks and they tend to end up looking similar even though every artist has a distinctive way to interpret memories of the place and history. Furukawa also believed that "if you look into something thoroughly, you face death and confronting death could end up in something rather similar."

We asked each of them how to enjoy art at the end of the talk. Takahashi said "art will help you see landscape and feel stories behind it". Iwabuchi went "art is just a door to build your own relationship with the region: a long lasting relationship regardless of the art festival such as become an owner of Matsudai Tanada Bank. Such encounter with people of place is only possible through ETAT. Furukawa agreed by saying "Echigo-Tsumari indeed offers various opportunities for you to establish such engagement. It is fun to return to the next festival in three years time or you can join event and activities happening in between years of the festival. I would love you to visit there to find out." All of these remarks were something we have been trying to communicate using "art" as catalyst. We were impressed by and grateful for how the editor-in-cheif of three different media were able to speak for us.