Japan Pavilion at the 57th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia in 2017: Artist Feature (Meruro Washida)

Curator's Statement

Meruro Washida
Curator. the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa.

Takahiro Iwasaki: Turned Upside Down, It's a Forest

Iwasaki often uses everyday objects that are found around us as materials for his works. These include items that are regarded as garbage, such as dust cloth and hair. By overlaying another image onto these to create a figurative representation, he gives meaning to things that are seemingly chaotic. For example, he makes a stack of dust cloths look like the mountains of nature, and books appear like buildings. Experiencing a change in the way we perceive things brings enjoyment to the viewer. Iwasaki’s work is also characterized by his fine handiwork. He creates cranes and steel towers from the threads pulled out from dust cloths or the bookmark strings attached to books. The delicacy of his work surprises the onlooker, and attracts them to draw closer to examine the piece.

Iwasaki’s works, characterized by his use of everyday objects, the technique of creating a figurative representation, and fine handiwork, could also be described as “Japanese.” At the same time, for Iwasaki, who was born in Hiroshima and continues to produce art from his base in Hiroshima today, these characteristics are also linked with the history of the special city that Hiroshima is. His use of everyday objects is influenced by the change in form and meaning of daily necessities after the nuclear bombing. Reading a different meaning into the same object simply by changing the ways that we look at it is based on the significant turnabout in Hiroshima’s position before and after the nuclear bombing, from a military city to a city of peace.

Furthermore, Iwasaki has also confronted the situation of Japan’s rural regions through his works. His selection of motifs such as steel towers for the electric cables that transport electricity from the power plants, across mountains, to the urban areas, and groups of chemical plants that have been pushed out to the coastal regions, reflect the perspective of those in the rural regions.

The city of Venice is built on an infinite number of stakes driven into the lagoon, and this is why there is a saying that Venice would become a forest if it were turned upside-down. The title of the exhibition incorporates the idea of viewing the works not only from the top but also from below, here in Venice, and the suggestion of seeing Japan not only from land but also from the sea. I hope that the many visitors to the Japan Pavilion will enjoy Iwasaki’s works, which employ “Japanese” forms of expression and unique techniques to bring out the ideas of Hiroshima’s history and the situation confronting Japan’s rural regions.

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