There’s never been a better time to visit the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum!
This September sees the fourth Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale, the biggest art bonanza in Kyushu and an international exhibition of increasing worldwide renown. Held every three years and showcasing the works of artists from 21 Asian countries/regions, the Triennale is a landmark in the cultural calendar and with painting and sculpture, installations and video art, art “happenings” and outreach events like open workshops, there’s certain to be something to grab your interest whether you’re a connoisseur or a newcomer to Asian art. Previous Triennale’s “themes” have invited exploration into intercultural communication, indigenous and traditional craft and the influence of Pop culture.
This year’s theme, “Live and Let Live: Creators of Tomorrow”, challenges artists to respond to the pressing issue of successful human coexistence in an era of limited resources and across cultural and economic boundaries. Although these concerns are hardly unique to Asia, even in the last ten years huge shifts in economic status and growing tension between traditional and popular culture have forced Asian communities to adapt their relationships with the rest of the world.
Many participating artists exploring the idea of “co-existence” will also be part of the Triennale’s interactive Art Exchange program, which invites the public to take partin artistic projects. Singapore art collaborative Post-Museum (artist Tien is featured as this month’s Gekkan Gaijin), large scale Cambodian artist Leang Seckon and provocative Indonesian photographer Angki Purbandono are among those artists promoting Art Exchange events, including gallery talks, open workshops and public performance (Aug. 25 ~ Sep. 29). See the Triennale website for a full schedule:www.ft2009.org
The Triennale is based in the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, which also celebrates its ten-year anniversary this year. The festival and the museum are both key institutions flying the flag for Fukuoka as a world city and a locus of cutting-edge Asian culture.
“Spirit of Mother, Mother’s Milk”
“Mr. Water and Mrs. Melon”
Huang Yong Ping
Who says art should stay on the walls? Huang Yong Ping’s remarkable sculpture Python’s Tail might look like something you’d find in a Natural History museum, but it’s actually a giant wood sculpture of a fantastic beast. Paris-resident Ping, one of the group of young radicals who heralded the rise of contemporary Chinese art in the 1990s has exhibited worldwide and here has created a sculpture whose teeth will definitely follow you around the room.
Leang Seckon is one of Cambodia’s leading contemporary artists, and gained a substantial international reputation with his “Naga”, a 250-meter-long sculpture of the mythical serpent constructed in the Mekong River, as party of 2008’s World Water day. “The Mekong river reaches through so much of South East Asia, and I was taking a boat to Angkor Wat when I saw that it was choked with plastic,” Seckon told FN. “It covered the trees and even though I couldn’t see it I could feel it moving and filling the water”. For the Fukuoka Triennale Seckon is taking another plastic monster to the streets with his Makara, a land-based dragon-like relative of the Naga. The serpent is actually a huge costume hand-sewn with patterns of plastic, which volunteers will parade through Hakata’s streets on Sep. 5. The performance will comprise elements of Cambodian rural and city life: “Once a year, for the Water Festival, people from the countryside all come into the city and buy plastic goods to take back, which all ends up in the rivers. It’ just like trade in Asia: a poor country buys plastic goods from a rich one and it all ends up in the countryside.” Volunteers are needed to make and perform with his colossal sculpture, so get in touch with the Ajibi office at 092-263-1103 if you’d like to take part.
Concert of Hot Water
Composer and sound artist Makoto Nomura’s latest work will go a few steps further than singing in the shower. Nomura’s “bath concert” will take place inside a sento (public bath house) in Hakata called Daiharu-yu. A mixed choir will sing Nomura’s composition Ofuro-no-uta (Song of the Bath): a male chorus will sing while soaking in the baths of the male section, matched by a female chorus bathing in the female section. A traditional sento, the baths in Daiharu-yu are separated by a wall but open at the top enough to allow harmonization of the voices from both sides. The audience will enjoy the music from the adjoining changing rooms. Nomura is hoping to involve volunteer performers among local singers, so this unique musical experience will definitely have a “communal” feel!
We Three Kings