The first decade of the 21st century saw the expansion of non-museum-based exhibitions in Japan. Ranging from art initiatives run by artists to large-scale festivals in the countryside, they are often called ‘art projects’ to highlight the process of making artworks and exhibitions and the temporariness of their installations and venues. As we see the global increase of biennales and triennials, international art festivals such as Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale in Niigata and Setouchi Triennale in Naoshima and other islands are arguably best understood in the context of such art projects in Japan.

In this talk, Kenji Kajiya, Associate Professor of Art History at Hiroshima City University, and in conversation with Keith Whittle, how art projects took place and have developed in postwar Japan was discussed. Tracing back to outdoor exhibitions organised by Gutai Art Association and Kyushu-ha in the mid-1950s, the talk demonstrated how non-museum-based exhibitions have developed and taken shaped through each decade, before international art festivals in rural setting and university-based outdoor exhibitions stood out as art projects in the 2000s.

Providing an insightful and historical account of art projects and their development to the present day, considering how these phenomena have been integrated or interacted with natural landscapes and society in Japan.

Talk organised by The Japan Foundation, London, 2013