Kitsch, otaku (“geek”) and kawaii (cuteness, sometimes super-girly hyper-cuteness) – are all stereotypes frequently attributed to contemporary Japanese culture. It is true to say that Japanese society often embraces such images of itself, and some Japanese artists, such as Takashi Murakami and Kaikai Kiki, respond to, or exploit, these trends, making them even more widespread. Yet is this the whole story? Does this kind of work actually represent the most significant and powerful art being made in Japan today?
David Elliott, founding director of the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, who spent five years in Japan, thinks not. He sees an intensely reflective, self-critical, controversial, even political, spirit within contemporary Japanese art that is less easy to appreciate than the stereotypes but more rewarding to grasp. It was this which led him to curate the successful exhibition Bye, Bye Kitty!!! – Between Heaven and Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art held at the Japan Society in New York earlier this year. This fascinating exhibition concentrated on diverse work by talented young and middle generation Japanese artists, many of whom have not yet been well enough represented on the international art scene.
In this talk, David Elliott will offer an overview of this exhibition and the artists he chose for it, mapping them in the social context of modern and contemporary Japan. Complementing his talk will be a discussion with sociologist and Japanese contemporary art specialist Adrian Favell. Together they will further explore how significant the exhibition is today, reflecting on Japanese aesthetics, social realities and global reactions.
This event is organised in collaboration with TrAIN Research Centre.
17 October 2011 from 6.20pm
The Banqueting Hall (Chelsea College of Art and Design)
16 John Islip Street
London SW1P 4JU
This event is free to attend but booking is essential. To reserve a place, please email your name and the title of the event you would like to attend to firstname.lastname@example.org.