Japan Pavilion at the 53rd International Art Exhibition, the Venice Biennale in 2009: Outline of the Japanese Participation

Outline of the Japanese Participation

Theme: Windswept Women: The Old Girls' Troupe
Commissioner: Hiroshi Minamishima
Artist: Miwa Yanagi

Outline of the Exhibition:
As seen in the early work Elevator Girls and more recently in series like My Grandmothers and Fairy Tale, Miwa Yanagi is an artist who has embraced "death" through her young girls and old women tricksters. Expressing "death" solely through the use of blood ties, she has adopted a thoroughly positive attitude toward the circumstances of human "life" as it exists in the maze of the "past," "present," and "future." As the elevator is also a metaphor for "death" that travels through space and time, and as the "self" fifty years later that she envisions in My Grandmothers is "death" itself, Yanagi touches upon "death" like the commander of a brigade that is marching through the labyrinth of "death" while paradoxically attempting to find the real meaning of yet unborn "life."


This sense, which resembles pain, is the sensation of eternal human "death" as it is expressed through young girls and old women. But at the same time, every form of existence is manifested through the memory of a particle of "death." Some of these exist for only an instant, while others embark on a journey and seem to remain for what seems like an eternity. It is the mobility and fluidity of unending "death" that Yanagi seems to discover in the momentum of "life."


Her work is allegorical, based on the visual "stories" that are extremely easy to understand for anyone regardless of age or place of origin, flooding the retina with the same degree of purity. The Yanagi-esque world of sensation – in which children become adults, and adults become “super-adults,” and the “super-adults” become “hyper-adults,” until a transposition occurs where the “hyper-adults” read to their children – deserves to be highly appreciated in the phase of sophisticated humor as an artistic expression.

Miwa Yanagi plans an installation titled "Windswept Women: The Old Girls' Troupe” to be shown at the Japan Pavilion in the 2009 Venice Biennale.


With a black, membrane-like tent, the Takamasa Yoshizaka-designed Japan Pavilion will be transformed into a space of contemporary time representing the fluidity and mobility of "death." Before long, the old young women that are familiar characters in Yanagi's work will, like visitors from another world, appear in Venice. But when they do, they will reassume their huge, life-sized forms, which until that point had been kept under wraps, and completely cover our small "lives" as observers. Enclosed in huge frames, the photographs that the

women inhabit are nothing less than life-sized images of "death" as it is. The "death" within these women, which should be small, is a transposed world that emerges when one recalls their actual size. They disappear at the moment one becomes aware of this transposition as Yanagi tries to reassemble this theatre, which has once again begun to wander, in Venice.


As if invited along by the old young women, we become a particle of memory traveling through the "past," "present," and "future" of Venice as we begin a wandering journey as a member of the company.


These old young women are not young girls who have aged but the undying power of "life." Miwa Yanagi's “Windswept Women: The Old Girls' Troupe” speaks of the courage required to survive after becoming a particle of "death"; it is certain to be an extremely contemporary, visual, and allegorical play.


Photo of artwork by Miwa Yanagi 1

exterior ©Miwa Yanagi, 2009

Photo of artwork by Miwa Yanagi 2

exhibition interior ©Miwa Yanagi, 2009

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