Bangladesh Biennale

15th Asian Art Biennale Bangladesh 2012

The Japan Foundation will organize an official participation to, and present artworks of two Japanese artists at “15th Asian Art Biennale Bangladesh 2012”, the international contemporary art exhibition held at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka, spanning from December 1 to December 31.

Outline of the Biennale

Dates: Saturday, December 1 - Monday, December 31
Organizer/Venue: Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy

Among the various international art exhibitions, “Asian Art Biennale Bangladesh” is one with the longest history in Asia which first edition was held in 1981 with having participation of 14 Asian countries. The organizer is Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, a National Academy of Fine and Performing Arts, which is the state-sponsored national cultural center attached to the Ministry of Culture, Bangladesh. In the 14th edition, 27 countries from Asia and other countries have participated.

Outline of Japan Official Participation

Official Curator: Shihoko Iida
Participating Artists: UJINO (Muneteru Ujino)
Meiro Koizumi
Organizer of Japn
Official Participation:
The Japan Foundation

Corresponding to the request from the government of Bangladesh, the Japan Foundation has organized the Japan’s official participation since its first edition in 1981, and showcased artworks of Japanese artists. In the 15th edition, with having Shihoko Iida as an official curator of Japan participation, we will present two Japanese artists, UJINO (Muneteru Ujino) and Meiro Koizumi. UJINO is known for his creation of unique sound sculpture with using various materials. In Bangladesh, based on his preliminary research conducted in September, he will create a new installation entitled “TRIODE TO JOY” with using local materials. Koizumi is known as video installation artist. This time he will showcase his work entitled *Theatre Dreams of A Beautiful Afternoon *(2010-2011) .

UJINO (UJINO Muneteru)
UJINO (Muneteru Ujino)
The Rotators - The Savage's Plastic Ikebana Session
Household electric appliances and mixed media
Dimensions variable
Photo by Masanori Ikeda

UJINO (UJINO Muneteru)
UJINO (Muneteru Ujino)
Nissan Cedric, wood furniture, household electric
appliances and mixed media
Dimensions variable

Meiro Koizumi
"Theatre Dreams of a Beautiful Afternoon"
2 channel HD video installation
Duration of video: 10min30sec
2010- 2011

Artist Selection Concept

Site of the Bangladesh Biennale, Dhaka is a city confronted with numerous issues, beginning with over-population, and including as well concerns over labor conditions, urban planning and a lack of necessary educational and cultural infrastructure. Yet, it is also true that the city functions as a market hub between East and West that supports outlets for all kinds of industry, and is filled with the vitality of people enthusiastically carrying out their lives. On the other hand, contemporary Japan has reached the dead-end of an advanced nation whose economic development was built upon principles of maximizing efficiency and where daily life is ordered around convenience.

In Dhaka, filled with the energy of people who are more concerned with working toward national development than with the ultimate direction of advanced-nation status, the works of Japanese contemporary artists will be presented alongside those of their peers from the other participating Asian nations. Given such a powerful contrast, in approaching Japan's participation in this Biennale it was my intent to show through the works by UJINO and Meiro Koizumi an aspect of the extreme situation/"tension" currently affecting Japanese society, which has been particularly exacerbated since the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Regarding the artist selection, in light of the available urban infrastructure and exhibition conditions in Dhaka, my specific concerns were as follows:

-Artists who explore the historical and cultural aspects of contemporary Japan from a critical perspective toward Japan's modernization and the influences in Japanese culture and society of Euro-American culture and Asia.

- Works that maintain both a state of tension in relation to and a sense of humor toward Japanese essentialism and nationalism.

- Works that express the anxieties, misunderstandings and emotional subtleties that occur in communication.

Making videos of performances in which he gradually escalates a given situation, Meiro Koizumi reveals the psychological states of people experiencing political, cultural and physiological discomfort. For the work on display here, *Theatre Dreams of A Beautiful Afternoon *(2010-2011) , Koizumi had an actor portray the moment when tensions between people in urban society explode in daily routine, and then filmed the reactions of the people who accidentally witnessed the scene.

Researching material civilisation, UJINO, who creates sculptural sound equipment out of automobile and bicycle parts, turntables, amps, speakers, cables and furniture, has produced a new kinetic sound-and-sculpture installation in Dhaka, TRIODE TO JOY, incorporating local elements such as rickshaw awnings. Formed around three kinetic puppets that exude an aura of vitality, the installation is a projection of UJINO's vision of a near future that he found in the coexistence of technology and organic modes of living in Dhaka: a withdrawal from the homogenized values of material civilisation, and a restoration of old sounds and technologies.

Through synergy between the tension and enervation, sophistication and exuberance, seriousness and kitsch of the two artists' works, it is my hope that the irresolvable tensions of contemporary Japan will be appreciated by the people of Bangladesh as a message that is critical and yet also enjoyable at the same time.

Shihoko Iida

Participating Artists

UJINOMuneteru Ujino) (Born in Tokyo in 1964. Lives in Tokyo) 

UJINO has been making sound sculptures since 1990s using electrical products such as electric spectaculars (mostly used for decorating trucks) and electric drills, etc., which has nothing to do with musical instruments. With Love Arm, a series of signature works of the artist among such sculptures, UJINO has performed on many live events. Since 2004, UJINO has started another major sound sculpture project The Rotators that centered remodeled turntables, which put phonograph record on the top and works as a control unit called “Rotator-head”. Electric products and tools connected to the “Rotator-head” play looped beats, which refer to dance music. The electrical appliances he uses include ordinary household appliances such as hairdryers, blenders and power tools. All these will be settled on a dining table etc., and decorated with light bulbs and lampshades. All these parts can be found in any major cities in the world as a consumer product, and the artist procure most of the parts in the country he exhibits. The Rotators series and his live performance have been highly appreciated and has been his first step to start overseas exhibitions. UJINO’s works may be discussed in relation to the Futurist artist and musician Luigi Russolo, or the works of Neo-Dadaists who saw a rise of an alternative and new nature in the overflowing industrial products and junk and attempted to identify a reality of the time. However, what arrived upon the maturity of industrial society was the delirium of mass consumerism that swept our life at an unprecedented scale. Through his works, the artist  sums up the 20th century and critically project an interpretation of the world, as if it is Naturalism in the society of mass consumption, by assembling a number of mass products that were born and completed in the middle of consumerism which is about to collapse in the 21st century.

Meiro Koizumi (Born in Gunma in 1976, Lives in Yokohama) 

His solo exhibitions include “Defect in Vision” at Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam (2012); “Broken Hero, Beautiful Afternoon” at Artspace, Sydney (2011); “MAM Project 009” at Mori Museum, Tokyo (2009); and “The Corner of Bitter and Sweet” at Open Satellite, Bellevue, WA, U.S.A. (2009).  Recently he participated in group shows such as “Omnilogue: Journey to the West” at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, India (2012); "Invisible Memories" at Hara Museum, Tokyo (2011); Liverpool Biennial at FACT, Liverpool, U.K. (2010); Media City Seoul 2010, Seoul, Korea (2010); Aichi Triennale 2010, Aichi, Japan (2010); “Roppongi Crossing 2010: Can There Be Art?” at Mori Art Museum Tokyo (2010).
The video works by Meiro Koizumi are compelling and visceral explorations of aspects of human psychology. Often in dialogue with actors or through his own performances, he creates precarious situations that are psychologically unstable and as manipulative of actors as they are of the viewer. Although the works often start harmoniously, or in an ordinary daily life situation, he then gradually heightens the tension, manipulating the situation from ordinary to painful. His partly staged and party improvisational performances focus and enlarge the moment when a situation gets out of control, becomes embarrassing, breaks social rules or beyond one’s emotional restraint.
With using his performance based video works, recently he thematically focused on Japanese World War II history, suggesting multiple interpretations and self-contradiction to the moral conflict staged within the histories and discourses of nationalism. He also started exploring Japanese social and psychological responses to the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake with his artistic language and methodology.


Shihoko Iida (Born in Tokyo in 1975. Lives in Nagoya

She graduated Tama Art University (1998.) She has been working as a curator at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery (from 1998 to 2009.) She worked at Australian Centre of Asian & Pacific Art in Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane as a visiting curator (from 2009 to 2011.) She has been invited to National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea (Seoul) as an international fellowship researcher (2011.) Currently she is working as an independent curator. She is an official curator of Aichi Triennale 2013.

Major curated exhibitions at TOCAG include;
“Why not live for Art?” (2004), “Wolfgang Tillmans: Freischwimmer” (2004), Nomata Minoru: Architecture on Canvas”(2004), “Stephan Balkenhol:Skulpturen und Reliefs” (organized by National Museum of Art, Osaka / Sprengel Musem, Hannover, 2005),  “Trace Elements: Spirit and Memory in Japanese and Australian Photomedia” (co-curated with Bec Dean, Associate Director at Performance Space, Sydney / TOCAG in 2008 and Performance Space in 2009) and “KONOIKE Tomoko: Inter-Traveller” (2009).
Other co-curatorial projects apart from TOCAG are;
“Rapt! 20 contemporary artists from Japan” (organized by the Japan Foundation / multiple cities in Australia in 2005-06), “Oriental Metaphor” (organized by Alternative Space LOOP, Seoul in 2006-07), “Omnilogue: Journey to the West” (Gallery 1&2, at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, India /organized by Japan Foundation in 2012); “Identity VIII - Embracing heterogeneity, affirming differences―Identity and Performance” (nca/ nichido contemporary art, Tokyo, in 2012).

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