Awakening new senses: Aichi Triennale mirrors society after March 2011 disaster

Awakening new senses: Aichi Triennale mirrors society after March 2011 disaster
A section of Katsuhiro Miyamoto’s “Fukushima Dai-ichi Sakae Nuclear Plant” with Kenji Yanobe’s “Sun Child” statue at the Aichi Arts Center

NAGOYA-Contemporary art often serves as a mirror of the times. Aichi Triennale 2013, an international art festival running until Oct. 27 in Aichi Prefecture, focuses on the stresses of today's society.

The festival, titled "Awakening: Where Are We Standing?-Earth, Memory and Resurrection," is one of the largest of its kind in Japan. The theme has taken a dramatic turn from that of the previous event in 2010, which was "Arts and Cities."

This year's theme appears to suggest that one of the main functions of the event is to preserve the memory of the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011 and explore the possibility of regaining peaceful landscapes.

The festival, which is being held mainly in Nagoya and Okazaki in the prefecture, features art exhibitions, stage performances and videos, with 122 individuals and groups of artists from 34 countries participating.

With Nagoya's Aichi Arts Center and the Nagoya City Art Museum serving as the core facilities, the event extensively covers the prefecture. Other venues include the Choja-machi site and the Nayabashi site in Nagoya, and three sites have been set up in Okazaki, including one at Higashi-Okazaki Station. On some weekends in August and September, artworks toured four other municipalities in the prefecture.

The cost of the event is about ¥1.26 billion, (S$16.1 million) slightly more than the previous triennale.

The festival's theme is a stark reminder of the 2011 disaster. Taro Igarashi, a professor at Tohoku University who serves as the festival's artistic director, has been active in the disaster-hit region. "It's natural for an international art festival in Japan to feature the disaster," he said.

Many artists have visited the region since the disaster, with many of the resulting artworks having a documentary feel, according to Igarashi. "Two years after the disaster, many works presented at the festival show that artists have presented their visions," he said.

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