Photologue | Tokyo Art Scene’s Busiest February Ever?

February is usually the quietest month in Tokyo’s art scene, but February 2011 in Tokyo was quite busy; including an art festival, two art fairs, and many museum and gallery openings.

The third edition of Yebisu International Festival for Art and Alternative Visions—also known as Yebizo—was held at Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art. The festival involved an admission-free museum exhibition, a screening program, and multiple live performance events. Under the theme ‘Daydream Believer!!’, festival director Keiko Okamura and her curatorial team selected approximately 90 artists, filmmakers, and performers to present works. During the ten-day exhibition, more than 40,000 people visited the festival.

The same week Yebizo took place, Tokyo was host to two art fairs. The second edition of G-tokyo, showcasing the same 15 leading galleries from Tokyo that were involved last year, was held at Mori Arts Center Gallery, on a lower floor of Mori Art Museum in Roppongi Hills. Unlike last year’s edition, some galleries presented group shows while others presented the work of a single artist. The actual art fair took place over three days, but G-tokyo was extended for the following week, entitled ‘Exhibition Week’, to allow for greater visitation. G-tokyo’s allegiance to a small cadre of galleries maintains the fair’s quality, but sacrifices some of its freshness. The alliance of younger galleries that calls itself New Tokyo Contemporaries (NTC) helped to bring a fresh air to the fair. NTC co-produced a one-day event with G-tokyo at a café in the Mori Art Museum, showcasing the work of one artist from each gallery, accompanied by a talk with first-time filmmaker Megumi Sasaki, who recently directed the film Herb and Dorothy.

A second art fair, the newly launched Tokyo Front Line, was held at the recently established alternative art space, 3331 Arts Chiyoda. The hipper sister fair, Tokyo Front Line combined three components: FRONT LINE (exhibitions by young Japanese artists), EXCHANGE (publishers, art collectives, and designers) and GYM (20 contemporary art galleries from Japan and other Asian cities). Approximately 6,000 people visited during the three-day fair. What is now in question is how Art Fair Tokyo, historically the biggest art fair in Tokyo, will fare in April 2011 after two new art fairs in Tokyo have emerged to share the spotlight.



Takayuki KUBOTA

Tue, 1 Mar 2011

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