Public decency cases and politically controversial artworks have recently raised a great deal of debate in Japan about an apparent drift towards censorship in Japan. Partly there have been cases of outside pressure (legal action against artists or public pressure on museums), but also there is the question of a distinctive national culture of self-censorship in which artists carefully align themselves to not cross critical or offensive lines. This trend, however, is certainly not confined to Japan, and needs to be discussed in the context of the decay of the public sphere in countries worldwide, driven by the rising sensationalism and populist mentality of both mainstream and social media.
This one day workshop and series of talk events brought together a group of specialist researchers, curators and artists whose work and engagement has confronted the difficult question of political expression in art, and who have been involved directly in some of these recent debates. Paying particular attention to the work of the Artists’ Guild and their 2016 Tokyo MOT exhibition and publication, Loose Lips Save Ships / Our Feardom of Expression and Internalization of Censorship; to the questions raised by the touring exhibition of work in the Fukushima exclusion zone, Don’t Follow the Wind; to theatre-based artwork by the collective Chelfitsch and Takamine Tadasu; to questions raised about post-colonial relations in East Asia by artists such as Yoshiko Shimada; and the engagement of various artists and curators introduced to the UK by Art Action UK. The themes of the workshop will be launched with an introduction by the distinguished sociologist Yoshitaka Mouri, in discussion with curator Miwako Tezuka. Through the day we will also be joined “live” via the internet by practising artists. We aim to publish an edited feature article based on the day’s discussions in a leading contemporary art review.
The all-day workshop follows the Third Thursday Lecture on the evening of Thursday 15th March, in which Adrian Favell offers an introductory lecture to the changing themes and aesthetics of Japanese contemporary art since the triple earthquake disasters of March 2011.
List of Participants
Yoshitaka Mouri. Sociologist. Professor, Tokyo University of the Arts.
Miwako Tezuka. Consulting Curator, ARAKAWA-GINS Reversible Destiny Foundation. Former director of Japan Society Gallery, New York, and co-founder of PoNJA-GenKon.
Yumi Song. Artist, curator & writer. Curator of Arafudo Art Annual, Fukushima
Jason Waite. Curator. University of Oxford, PhD researcher. Co-curator of Don’t Follow The Wind project, an exhibition onsite in the Fukushima exclusion zone
Hiroki Yamamoto. Artist, and PhD researcher, Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London.
Shino Yanai. Artist. Royal College of Art, MFA.
Yoi Kawakubo. Artist. Fellow of Japanese Agency of Cultural Affairs, London.
Kaori Homma. Artist, Associate Lecturer, Central St. Martins, University of the Arts London, and Founder of Art Action UK
Sharon Kinsella. Lecturer in Japanese Studies, University of Manchester. Author of Schoolgirls, Money and Rebellion in Japan (2013)
Barbara Geilhorn. Lecturer in Japanese Cultural Studies, Freie Universität Berlin. Co-editor of Fukushima and the Arts: Negotiating Nuclear Disaster (2017)
Keith Whittle. London-based academic, writer and curator. Sothebys Institute of Art and associate curator at White Rainbow Gallery, London
Meryl Doney. Curator, co-founder Art Action UK
Caroline Fisher. Curator, Norwich University of the Arts, Gallery
Nell Croose Myhill. Learning Officer, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, UEA
Toshio Watanabe. Professor for Japanese Arts and Cultural Heritage, SISJAC/UEA and Professor of History of Art and Design, Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation (TrAIN), University of the Arts London
Eriko Tomizawa-Kay. Lecturer in Japanese Language, University of East Anglia
Ra Mason. Sasakawa Lecturer in International Relations and Japanese Foreign Policy, University of East Anglia
Stephanie Su. Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow 2017-18, SISJAC
Amanda Kennell. Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow 2017-18, SISJAC
Adrian Favell. Chair in Sociology and Social Theory, University of Leeds. Professorial Academic Associate, SISJAC
Kazz Morohashi. Artist/Designer, and Research, Planning and Public Relations Officer, SISJAC