Beautiful New World: Contemporary Visual Culture from Japan

a banner of Beautiful New World: Contemporary Visual Culture from Japan
a logo image of Japan-China Exchange Year of Culture and Sports 2007 Japan-China Exchange Year of Culture and Sports 2007

Exhibition Concept

Photo of artwork by Teppei Kaneuji Kaneuji Teppei
teenage fan club
Courtesy Kodama Gallery

People have always sought a new and better society and world.  It was hoped that the 21st century would usher in a new age of peace, but so far it has turned out very differently, and anxiety is spreading throughout the nations of the world.  The rapid economic growth of Japan following World War II brought progress in urban development and internationalization, symbolized by the Tokyo Olympics of 1964.  By the time of the Osaka Expo in 1970, however, it was common to hear theories of impending decline.  Since the 1990s, there have been new causes for anxiety, including the collapse of the bubble economy and the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. The growth of armed conflict throughout the world has caused this anxiety to take a greater hold on people’s minds.  In 1930, Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World, the story of a highly developed machine civilization that produces an anti-utopian society.  Japanese manga often contain scenarios of world destruction due to conquest by monsters or aliens or natural calamities.  The words “New World” are often used as a vulgar name for recreational facilities or amusement parks.  They invite people to a virtual or dream world, a place to escape from the real world.  The unending repetition of triumph and disaster in human history has continually raised the question, “How can the world be made beautiful, wonderful, and new?”

“Beautiful New World: Contemporary Visual Culture from Japan,” is an exhibition being held to commemorate 35 years of normalized relations between Japan and China.  It presents the work of 34 creative people working in a variety of fields, media art, architecture, fashion, manga and anime as well as contemporary art.  It is one of the first exhibitions to be presented in China that gives a comprehensive overview of contemporary Japanese culture since the 1990s.  The overall theme is divided into three parts, (1) Beautiful Real World, (2) New Media World, (3) End of the World and Future World.  Based on the phrases “beautiful world” and “new world,” this exhibition presents multiple levels of expression and explores contemporary society from many different angles.  At a time when the nations of the world face many complex social and political issues, an inquiry into the possibilities of a new and more beautiful world could lead to a global discourse transcending national or cultural boundaries.  We will be pleased if this exhibition provides an opportunity for thinking about a better future to be shared by humankind.

Exhibition Website

Dates & Venues

Beijing (China)

Dates: September 25 (Tue.) – October 21 (Sun.), 2007
Hours: 11:00-19:00, closed Mondays       Admission free
Venue: “798” Dashanzi Art District
(4 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, 100015)
*Opening: September 25 2007, 17:00–
Section 1
Section 2
Section 3

Guangzhou (China)

Dates: December 25 (Tue.), 2007 – January 20 (Sun.), 2008 
Hours: 9:00-17:00, closed Mondays
Venue: Guangdong Museum of Art
(38 Yanyu Road, Er-sha Island, Guangzhou, 510105)
Tel: 86-(0)20-8735-1468 Fax: 86-(0)20-8735-3773
Organizers: The Japan Foundation, Central Academy of Fine Arts,  Long March Space , Inter Arts Center, B.T.A.P., Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou Art Academy
Co-organizers: China Arts & Entertainment Group
Supported by: Logo of JAL  Logo of Shiseido
Cooperation by: National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) Logo of National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation
Media Supporters Logo of media supportors

Section 1
Beautiful Real World@ Long March Project

Installation image of artwork by Makoto Aida
Aida Makoto
Encounter of the Fat and the Slim with
Ten-thousand Yen Bill Background
©Makoto AIDA
Courtesy Mizuma Art Gallery
Courtesy Kodama Gallery

The works in this section represent expressions that derive and/or deviate from reconsidering the value standards for “beauty” and re-evaluating the idea of what is “reality.” They are works that define “beauty” based on the projected female images in commercial advertisements and fashion industry, and works that reflect on the evolution of its value standards; works that examine the relationship between appearance versus substance; Japanese manga and animations that illustrate gender-specific features in the boy’s world / girl’s world; and works that focus on “kawaii” culture, as well as the personal world-view of hitori-asobi (solitary play) that deviates from this culture. Also on exhibit will be works by artists who, from the 1990s onwards, have discovered new values and realities in their everyday surroundings and events. They have created life-size images of their experiences that attract empathetic viewers.

Aida Makoto, exonemo, Kaneuji Teppei, Konoike Tomoko, Kusama Yayoi, Murayama Ruriko, Nishiyama Minako, Odani Motohiko, Okazaki Kyoko, Paramodel, Sawa Hiraki, Shimabuku, Takamine Tadasu, Tanaka Koki, Ujino Muneteru, Watanabe Go, Xijing Men (Ozawa Tsuyoshi, Chen Shaoxiong, Gimhongsok), Yanagi Miwa

Section 2
New Media World@ Inter Arts Center

Photo of artwork by Ryoji Ikeda
Ryoji Ikeda data.tron[prototype] 2007 ©Ryoji Ikeda

The art of new media has changed the ways in which we view the world. The works that tune into the new possibilities of communication and physical sensibilities are becoming ever important in considering contemporary society; such works take interest in what effect technological development in images and sound has on human sensations. The idea that perceives human relationships, or relationships between human and the environment as fluid, rather than predetermined, could be the driving force behind such developments. The works to be on exhibit in this section encompass a broad range of works, including not only those works that incorporate new technology, but also those that relate to the urban environment, fashion, and objects.

Atelier Bow-wow, doubleNegatives Architecture, Tsumura Kosuke, Fuji Hiroshi, Ikeda Ryoji, Oshii Mamoru, Yokoyama Yuichi, National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan)

Section 3
End of the World and Future World @B.T.A.P.

Photo of artwork by Ryuji Miyamoto
Miyamoto Ryuji
Kowloon Walled City
©Ryuji Miyamoto
Courtesy TARO NASU

This section touches on the deep-seated apocalyptic world-view in Japanese society and culture, together with the visions for the future that are projected as result. The apocalyptic world-view is shaped by the disintegration of society and the collapse of urban cities, caused by natural disaster, war, and genocide as such, as well as death and the fear of facing death, while the visions for the future are projected in forms of cities in rejuvenation and futuristic cities. Some of the works in this section signify eternity and sustainability in relation to these themes.

Fujihata Masaki, Hatakeyama Naoya, Miyajima Tatsuo, Miyamoto Ryuji, Ohmaki Shinji, Urasawa Naoki, Yanobe Kenji, Yoneda Tomoko


Public Programs (admission free)

Symposium “On Japanese Contemporary Art and Society”
Date: September 26 (Wed.), 2007  10:30–13:00
Date: Central Academy of Fine Arts
Speakers/Panellists: Yoshimi Shunya (Sociology / Tokyo University), Saito Tamaki (Psychiatrist), Cai Guoqiang (Artist) and others
Artists’ Talk
Date: September 27 (Thu.) , 2007  17:00–19:00
Date: Exhibition venues at “798” Dashanzi Art District
*Meeting point: Long March Space
Speakers: Lu Jie (Director, Long March Space), participating artists, curators

Workshop 1

Hands-on Robot Workshop
Dates: October 6 (Sat.), 2007
Venue: Inter Arts Center
Planning and designed:

National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan)

Workshop 2

“Kaekko” Workshop
Dates: During the exhibition period
Venue: Inter Arts Center
Planning & design: Fuji Hiroshi

Related Program (by invitation only)

Media Workshop
Dates: September 26 (Wed.)-29 (Sat.), 2007
Venue: Central Academy of Fine Arts
Instructor: Fujihata Masaki

Project Members

Curators: Kataoka Mami (Senior Curator, Mori Art Museum & International Curator, Hayward Gallery), Sumitomo Fumihiko (Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo), Kim Sunjung (Independent Curator)

Project Manager: Li Zhenhua (Independent Curator)
Assistant Project Manager: Li Shi
Project Administrators: Kuriyama Masayuki, Huang Haicun
Project Director: Furuichi Yasuko
Project Coordinators: Che Kyongfa, Hoashi Aki
Project Administrators: Yoshioka Norihiko, Sano Meiko
Installation Design (Beijing): Hayano Yosuke + MAD
Catalogue Design: Oshima Idea

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