Trans-Cool Tokyo: Contemporary Japanese Art from MOT Collection
Trans-Cool Tokyo: Contemporary Japanese Art from MOT Collection features 45 works by 18 contemporary artists in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT). The exhibition is curated by Chief Curator Yuko Hasegawa from the MOT for a project jointly organized by the City of Tokyo and the Tokyo Historical and Cultural Assets Society to promote Tokyo culture. It is scheduled to travel to Bangkok, Singapore and Taipei between 2009 and 2011. This is the first remarkable collaboration between the Taipei Fine Arts Museum and the MOT.
Founded in March 1995, the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo is located in Koto-ku in Tokyo. Apart from Japanese contemporary art, it also has a collection of foreign works to reflect its international character. Its current collection consists of approximately 4,000 items, ranging from art, fashion, architecture to design. The MOT’s predecessor is the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Ueno Park, Tokyo. Opened in 1925, it underwent renovations in 1975. After the MOT opened, 3,000 of its works were moved there.
According to curator Yuko HASEGAWA, the exhibition title Trans-Cool Tokyo is derived from Cool Japan, a concept used to promote Japanese cultural software, similar to the phrase Cool Britannia that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair came up with. However, in addition to introducing the “coolness” of Japanese cultural software (especially its pop culture), the exhibition also presents the future direction of Japanese contemporary art through critical art works. These include the works of Yayoi KUSAMA and Yasumasa MORIMURA; Takashi MURAKAMI, Yoshitomo NARA and Ryoji IKEDA who emerged in the 1990s and 2000s, as well as Koki TANAKA, Masakatsu TAKAGI and Haruka KOJIN from the new generation, it features mainly the creations of young Japanese artists. The exhibition shows how Japanese artists formed their distinctive style in the globalized pop culture of the second half of the 1990s. Employing diverse media such as painting, sculpture, performance, photography and video, they create works that respond to certain phenomena of contemporary society, such as the beginning of the information age, a greater degree of freedom and a sense of uncertainty.
The main theme of Trans-Cool Tokyo is the relationship between art, pop culture and everyday life. The works are grouped under four sub-themes based on their characterisitcs: The Features of Japanese Pop, The Idiosyncratic Nature of Perception, Micropolitics and the Search for Reality, and The Techno-conscious Body. Their works offer a glimpse into the nature of “cool art” in Tokyo under late capitalism: a lack of desire for things and information, accompanied by a turn towards establishing new relationships with others and the world. These artists neither blindly worship the west, nor revert entirely to the indigenous culture. Instead, through skilful alternation, the beauty and sensibility of their works produce a more powerful artistic expression, making Japanese contemporary art even more vocal on the globalized platform.