Is It Socially Engaged Art?: The Debate over “Art Projects” in Japan

Yeung Tin Shui traces alternatives to Eurocentric conceptions of art projects in Japan.


Image: Setouchi Triennale. Courtesy of Yeung Tin Shui.
Image: Setouchi Triennale. Courtesy of Yeung Tin Shui.


Art Projects and Socially Engaged Art

In recent years, Japan’s Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial has generated a fair amount of buzz, both within art circles and beyond. The triennial, held every three years since 2000, presented over 335 works last year. The purpose of the event is to revitalise regions in neighbourhoods close to the exhibition site—such as Tōkamachi and Tsunan in Niigata Prefecture—and tackle issues plaguing these areas, like an aging population and low birth rates.

These types of major art events are not uncommon in Japan, and are usually referred to as “art projects” in Japanese1—a term that might be traced back to 1997, yet is rarely used amongst academics and critics outside of Japan, with many preferring to regard these events as “socially engaged art.” In 2015, the first major symposium in the West was convened at the University of Washington, Seattle, plainly titled “Socially Engaged Art in Japan,” where academics such as Nobuko Kawashima, Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto, and Adrian Favell looked at art projects in Japan from sociopolitical, economic, and aesthetic perspectives. This paved the way for heated discussions that later took place amongst academics: Is Japan’s “art project” synonymous with “socially engaged art”? And even if not, should it be considered as such?

Indeed, over the past two decades, art practices that engage with society have maintained a significant hold in global discourse, with the art world according these practices various names like socially engaged art, relational art, dialogical art, new genre public art, social practice, and so on.

In Japan, art that has drawn itself closer to society can also be observed, but the more common terminology here is “art projects.” Amongst the different art projects in Japan, people are perhaps most familiar with Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial.2 The Setouchi Triennale and Aichi Triennale are also relatively well-known, but there are also small-to-mid scale events such as the Toride Art Project and the Art Access Adachi. A rough estimate shows that Japan hosts up to 400 art projects every year, and it would be accurate to say these events are more popular than traditional exhibition formats.

What are the origins of the term “art projects”? Back in the 1980s, artist Tadashi Kawamata had already begun using “projects” to describe his own works. In academia, the first official definition of art project came from a book by Toshiko Hashimoto,3 Regional Potentials and Art-energy (1997). And while the definition of art projects varies, one of the more authoritative definitions used today is from Art Projects: Art and the Co-creation of Society,4 edited by academic Sumiko Kumakura. The book’s preface discusses how art projects were more concerned with “specific societal phenomena” and creating new “social contexts,” emphasising their proclivity for social interventions.

Kumakura also mentioned an important point of distinction between art projects in Japan and similar happenings in Europe and America: namely, that art projects generally fail to be critical of politics and society. For instance, I’ve found that during the past two iterations of Echigo-Tsumari (2015, 2018),5 there are zero artworks that demonstrate what might be considered “critical” elements. On the other hand, socially engaged art in the West often criticises and challenges various authorities and institutions: the target of Ala Plástica’s work, Oil Spill (1999–2003), is the oil and gas company Shell, Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla’s Tiza (Lima) (1998–2006) interrogates the government’s suppression of freedom of expression—the list goes on.6


Image: Works shown at Water and Land Niigata Art Festival. Courtesy of Yeung Tin Shui.
Image: Works shown at Water and Land Niigata Art Festival. Courtesy of Yeung Tin Shui.


The failure of art projects to be critical, then, is often itself the subject of criticism from Japanese and Western academics. A typical argument cites Claire Bishop’s discussion of “antagonism,”7 following Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s8 theory of discourse analysis. She is critical of how Bourriaud’s theory of relational aesthetics equates the existence of a relationship between the artist and a viewer with democracy, yet does not address the content and quality of the relationship produced in the process. Bishop points to the problematics raised by this lack of antagonism in participatory art, with some academics and critics9 subsequently pointing out that art projects in Japan lack antagonism, the same criticism made by Bishop.

But is it fair to apply her theory and criticism, borne out of a Western context, onto Japan? To answer this, I’d like to review the origins of art projects and their significance within different histories of art. This essay first looks at why art projects became seen as a regionalised variation of a Western artistic practice and a branch of “socially engaged art,” then offers a contrasting point of view—that there is a local historical context for how art projects developed in Japan.

My purpose in tracing the origins of art projects in Japan is not meant to “shun the West” or deny its influence on art projects; rather, as will hopefully become clear by the end, it is to address the question of politicisiation and Eurocentric frameworks, and also to challenge the structural frameworks for art criticism.


Art Projects through a “Western” Lens

In a conversation with art critic Naoya Fujita,10 artist Hikaru Fujii pointed out that the pioneers of art projects11 were generally suspicious of the mainstream, and therefore preferred to exhibit in off-beaten streets with closed-down shops over galleries. As a result, Fujii believed art projects to be a manifestation of the postmodern movement, suggesting that art projects today have become formalised and have “forgotten its cynicism towards the mainstream, falling back onto the path of modernism.” This is a typical argument from those who analyse art projects in Japan through a Western lens.

The origins of socially engaged art in the Western world have been extensively discussed, and I’ll avoid repeating it here. But it is worth revisiting a few arguments put forward by Ben Davis—namely, that precedents of social practice could be found in the participatory and activist theatre of the 1960s, as well as in “feminist explorations of everyday rituals and anti-hierarchical structures in the 1970s.”12 In the 1990s, social practice was seen as challenging capitalism, modernism, and art institutions, and there was a turn towards an artform that emphasised conversation and dialogue—in other words, dialogical and relational aesthetics. What all of these have in common is that they demonstrate a certain degree of resistance towards existing structures of politics, culture, and art.

Some scholars see art projects as the result of Japan being influenced by or referencing socially engaged art in the West. One suggestion is that art projects in Japan drew their inspiration from public art in the US, which grew in popularity in the late 1960s. Research by art historian Kenji Kanjiya13 shows that public art reached Japan in the 1980s, and gained recognition amongst the public in Japan by the early 1990s. In 1988, a thesis titled Public Art in Contemporary America14 was published, and was one of the earliest academic papers in Japan to discuss public art. In August 1993, Bijutsu Techo published a feature titled “Art for Whom? The Possibilities of Public Art,”15 further ushering public art into broader public discourse. At the time, heated discussion topics relating to public art include Philadelphia’s Percent for Art (which mandated that at least one percent of the building construction costs has to be for commissioning original site-specific public art), the controversy surrounding Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc, and others.16 Joan Mondale, the wife of American ambassador Walter Mondale, also held talks in Japan and wrote several articles to promote public art in the country. As a result, Kenji Kanjiya argued, American public art was accepted in Japan as a new art practice with democratic values.

One prominent individual influenced by this trend was Fram Kitagawa, the founder of Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial. Kitagawa wrote books17 on the international phenomenon of public art, and organised similar happenings in Japan. In 1994, he curated FARET, placing 109 artworks in eleven buildings including offices, hotels, department stores, and cinemas. The following year, Fumio Nanjo—currently the director of Mori Art Museum—curated Shinjuku i-Land, which featured fourteen artworks in five blocks of buildings. Today, both are prominent curators in Japan.


Image: Fram Kitagawa. Photo courtesy of Yeung Tin Shui.
Image: Fram Kitagawa. Photo courtesy of Yeung Tin Shui.


Those who argue that Western examples had served as the inspiration for art projects often point to the Skulptur Projekte Münster. In the 1970s, American artist George Ricket placed his work Drei rotierende Quadrate in the town of Münster in northwest Germany, sparking outrage amongst residents who believed the artwork obstructed the scenery. Then in 1977, Klaus Bussmann—who was the director of LWL-Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte—held a series of talks exploring public art, inviting Museum Ludwig curator Kasper König to put together a sculpture exhibition as an extended activity. This became the first iteration of Skulptur Projekte Münster. For the duration of the exhibition, works were exhibited in residences, malls, parks, and other public spaces in the city. Residents were then given a period of ten years to decide which exhibits were allowed to stay on, before the next iteration of the exhibition was held. It could be said that Skulptur Projekte Münster is not an exhibition, but a ten-year project that features an exhibition, as reflected in its name “Projekte.”

Skulptur Projekte Münster, first held in 1977, had a profound impact on art projects in Japan.18 Artist Makoto Aida called it a “successful example” of art projects, adding that Fram Kitagawa brought the concept to Japan because of the success of the exhibition; Sumiko Kumakura also said that it was the forerunner of art projects in Japan.19 When the fifth edition of Skulptur Projekte Münster took place in 2017, I was in Japan; many art workers there paid close attention to the event, and some even compared attending the exhibition to a pilgrimage.

Another reason art projects in Japan are seen as a variety of existing Western mediums, such as public art, has to do with Belgium curator Jan Hoet. Born in 1936, Hoet first served as curator, then director of S.M.A.K., Museum of Contemporary Art, Ghent. In 1986, Hoet held Chambres d'Amis in Ghent, placing fifty-one artworks in fifty-eight residences in the city. A feature of the exhibition is that when artists and viewers install or visit the exhibition, there would necessarily be a certain degree of interaction with the residents. This also means that viewers would have to move around the city in order to see the exhibition. Holding an exhibition in a residence rather than at a gallery isn’t unheard of in Japan; for instance, Tadashi Kawamata’s Apartment Projects (1982–83) was shown at a private residence. But it was nowhere as influential as Chambres d'Amis, which was seen as a pioneer of art projects, and Jan Hoet one of the luminaries.

However, according to estimates by Kenji Kanjiya,20 there weren’t actually many Japanese art workers who had seen Chambres d'Amis. If this is the case, why was the exhibition’s influence so far-reaching? Well, for one, Jan Hoet frequently visited Japan under the invitation of the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art—among the first institutions to bring global contemporary art to Japan. Hoet’s first visit was in 1986, when Chambres d'Amis was taking place, during which he conducted field studies in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Kanazawa. In 1991, Hoet curated Jan Hoet in Tsurugi: Contemporary Art and the Town Space21 in the region then known as Tsurugi in Ishikawa, inviting thirty-four young artists—including the later hugely popular Takashi Murakami—to exhibit their work at warehouses, breweries, bus stations, and other spaces. The exhibition wasn’t as grand in scale as Chambres d'Amis, but it clearly inherited the curatorial concept from the Ghent project. In 1995, Hoet curated Ripple Against the Water for Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, exhibiting works by forty-eight artists in parks, shops, graveyards, temples—all in all more than thirty different venues—in Tokyo’s Aoyama district. The artists were required to first visit eight locations in Japan—including Sapporo, Sendai, Noto Peninsula, Tsurugi, and so on—to interact with locals and incorporate the regions’ customs and way of life into their works. The exhibition attracted a lot of media attention at the time, and “non-museum exhibitions in urban spaces and site-specific art production”22 was widely regarded in Japan as a European contemporary art trend. Subsequently, many in Japan regarded Jan Hoet as a world-class curator.

These threads certainly give weight to the notion that art projects in Japan are a regional variation of a Western artistic practice—positing that socially engaged art is a product of Western contemporariness, with art projects the result of Japan learning from the West. If we follow this line of reasoning, we would easily be under the impression that art projects in Japan are merely a peripheral case study under the umbrella of socially engaged art in Europe and America, or even an imitation, an inferior good. It would also lead to the conclusion that criticism applied to socially engaged art in Euro-America can similarly work on art projects in Japan.


The Historical Origins of Art Projects

There’s another perspective from which we can trace the origins of art projects in Japan—one that takes into context local discourse and history.

If we look instead at this local context, art projects in Japan did not, as Hikaru Fujii said, arise out of a suspicion towards the mainstream—as had socially engaged art in the West—nor was it particularly conscious of rebelling against modernist art and institutions.

When organising the history of how art projects developed, Kenji Kanjiya23 categorised the period of the 1950s to 1980s as the “early history.” He argues that in the 1950s, artists in Japan like the Gutai group (founded in 1954) had already been organising outdoor exhibitions. However, these artists were not doing so in order to challenge the white cube exhibition format or the dominance of museums and galleries. An important point to note is that before WWII, there were no galleries in Japan that collected modern art; even the few galleries that bought and sold modern art did not appear until the 1950s. Therefore, around the time that Western artists were attempting to challenge the art institution, this institution had only just arrived in Japan, and had yet to establish its authority—meaning there was little to rebel against. Even with the “Anti-Art Movement” epitomised in the Yomiuri Independent Exhibition (1949–63), where some of the works there appeared to challenge artistic authority, art historian and curator Raiji Kuroda notes that these were not aimed at museums or galleries—rather, they were challenges posed by anarchists to the political and cultural system.24 Even today, there isn’t really a robust phenomenon of “challenging art institutions.” Indeed, in his discussion of Fukuoka’s Museum · City · Tenjin (1998–2004), participating artist Hiroshi Fuji said that while the project did invite artists who were unable to exhibit at galleries, and shows would take place outside of art museums, generally there wasn’t a sense that people were “losing hope in art institutions.”25

So if the intention was not to rebel against tradition or institutions, then what made Japanese artists take their work outside of museums? Many critics point to a curious phenomenon: the weakness of art institutions themselves.

“Institutions” here does not refer to just the body of art museums and galleries, but also the broader cultural discourse. As art scholar Justin Jesty stated,26 in postwar Japan much of the tangible and intangible infrastructures had been paralysed or destroyed, and there was not much of a cultural discourse. So when it came to cultural production, the more common trend was to encourage the flourishing of different ideas, rather than to challenge authority. It was under these circumstances that artist Jiro Yoshihara founded the Gutai group, emphasising new ways to create art.27 In 1955, when he noticed that works that did not make the cut in the Ashiya exhibition were moved out into the outdoor plaza, it gave him the idea of hosting an outdoor show. This ultimately gave birth to the Experimental Outdoor Exhibition of Modern Art to Challenge the Midsummer Sun—marking the beginning of the early history of Japanese art projects.28 According to Kenji Kanjiya, the early history was marked by a series of outdoor exhibitions in the 1980s, such as the Hamamatsu Open-air Exhibition (1980–87) and Ohya Underground Art Exhibition (1980–89). All of these events took place in areas with barren land and poor accessibility, a reflection of how artists were more interested in experimenting with space rather than challenging institutions or society.


Image: Poster of international symposium titled <i>Is it Socially-Engaged Art? Discussions on Art, Theatre, Japan, America, and….</i>.
Image: Poster of international symposium titled Is it Socially-Engaged Art? Discussions on Art, Theatre, Japan, America, and…..


As mentioned earlier, Japan’s pre-war art infrastructure was not as well established as the West’s. A further constraint was that Japanese local artists who wanted to exhibit their works usually had to do so in group shows or rent galleries themselves. However, doing so often limited the opportunities of interacting with the audience, and it came with a hefty price tag. One solution to this problem was to take the art outdoors. For instance with Museum · City · Tenjin,29 Hiroshi Fuji said that the project had wanted to rebel against “the open call exhibition and gallery rental system.” Because he could not afford the rent, he had the idea of using schools and private residences as free venues, as well as vacant spaces, abandoned schools, bus stations, and commercial facilities. Sumiko Kumakura30 also said that even though Japan’s art museums and commercial galleries were nowhere as developed as the West, and its art history and market not as mature, the country still produces a large number of art graduates every year. These students knew that even if they rented galleries themselves to hold exhibitions, it did not guarantee that curators would visit. Driven, then, by a motivation to make art and advance their professional goals, the students played an important role in further promoting the development of art projects in Japan.

If the fragility of art institutions in Japan is important context for the germination of early art projects, then the strengthening of institutions in the 1990s is also a considerable factor in how art projects developed to its current scale. After the 1990s, the economic bubble burst and the so-called “box policy”—whereby the government built museums and sports facilities with little consideration for their functionality or societal impacts—was heavily criticised. In response to such criticism, the cultural sector turned its focus to other structural issues in arts and culture, such as education, with both the government and the commercial sector introduced various funding schemes to promote the arts. The Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995 and the Tokyo subway sarin attack also prompted some soul-searching in Japan as to the societal value of art.31 In 1990, Japan established the Association for Corporate Support of the Arts and the Japan Arts Council, which provided funding amounts of up to sixty-five billion yen. Japan also put together various educational and research events, such as the Toyota Arts Management programmes (1996–2004), which educated ten thousand cultural workers and local residents on the relationship between art and society—thus indirectly promoting art projects in Japan. These policies provided an improved infrastructure and fertile ground for the growth of art projects. The Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial, which debuted in 2000, could be said to be a significant outcome of these policies.


Eurocentric Frameworks and Art Criticism

The debate over the origins of art projects, in itself, is a challenge to Eurocentric frameworks. As Reiko Tomii said in 2017, “In studying contemporary art, it cannot be overemphasised that contemporary practices are built upon the legacy of modernism, or rather modernisms.”32 The “modernisms” here refer to how, when we study different histories, what may look like a product of Western modernism could in fact be assessed differently under its own context. In our present discussion, this could refer to the similarities and discrepancies between socially engaged art and art projects. “[W]hen we examine ‘modernisms,’ the problems of modernism as conceptualised in Euro-America are brought into sharper focus. Paying careful attention to local particularities is one strategy for dismantling ingrained Eurocentric ideas…”33 From this perspective, the art project debate in Japan could be seen as a step towards resisting Eurocentricism.

Another issue relates to art criticism. There has already been plenty of discussion on the strengths and weaknesses, or assessments of the rationality of, socially engaged art—Grant Kester34 and Claire Bishop’s35 arguments being the most well-known. These discussions touch on instrumentalisation, autonomy, and antagonism within art, but the common thread is their jumping-off point from the context of Western art history, and rarely or never even considering Japanese works or the Japanese art context. Still, this did not stop scholars or critics from directly importing these discussions and applying them to “art projects.”

As mentioned earlier, Japanese critic Naoya Fujita published Regional Art: Aesthetic / Institutions / Japan, in which he was fiercely critical of art projects. In the book, he regarded Nicolas Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics36 as “the default historical and theoretical background” for art projects, and also appropriated Claire Bishop’s criticism of Bourriaud37 in his discussion of Japan. This was not the first time someone juxtaposed or directly compared relational aesthetics and art projects.38 But as we have discussed here, relational aesthetics could not be considered in any way a significant theoretical basis in the development of art projects. This means it is time to review whether applying Claire Bishop’s arguments onto art projects is in fact effective. Other critics note that the problem of “art projects” is its need to stage interventions in society, thus requiring coordination between the government, businesses, and individuals—meaning artists would be required to “compromise” to a certain degree, thus limiting artistic autonomy. The most straightforward example is that some artists who wish to work within certain communities would make conciliations or even avoid a certain political topic altogether. On this issue, the arguments Reiko Tomii made are once again relevant. She argued that post-war Japanese artists have always been active members of society, rather than the “autonomous” individual imagined by Western modernism. In any event, when discussing art project’s historical origins, one should take care not to oversimplify and equate Western modernism with global modernism, for doing so would fail to properly evaluate art projects.


Image: Reiko Tomii speaking at AAA in A's <i>Following His Father’s Footsteps: Taro Hanaga with Reiko Tomii and Tom Looser</i>.
Image: Reiko Tomii speaking at AAA in A's Following His Father’s Footsteps: Taro Hanaga with Reiko Tomii and Tom Looser.


The debate over the origins of art projects allows an art scene still dominated by the Western gaze to reassess essentialist understandings of art. As Reiko Tomii argues, observing the differences between Japan and Euro-America is an exercise in taking note of the possible questions that exist within the popular imagination of artistic autonomy in the West. Ultimately, what is the notion of artistic autonomy? Why should art be autonomous? Who does it protect? Is it a dichotomous issue, or one that exists on a spectrum? If it’s a spectrum, how autonomous does it have to be to “pass” the test?

These questions are often overlooked; but if we attend to Japanese discourse itself, things may not necessarily appear this way. Sumiko Kumakura argues that Western art history tends to draw a clear distinction between the subject and the object—the white cube format of exhibition and artistic autonomy as an aesthetic value are both results of this subject-object delineation. On the other hand, art projects stress relationalism—whether it’s between cultures, or the individual and society, or man and nature. This relationalism emphasises the relationship between the subject and the object, a sort of intersubjectivity. In this sense, Kumakura believes that “the behaviour of art projects is of [a characteristic of] East Asia.”39 Here, it is important to note that the present essay does not wish to challenge the concept of “artistic autonomy.” Rather, it is to try to oppose the often essentialising nature of art discourse that prematurely frames art projects in Japan in terms of socially engaged art—in the process missing out on more historically and contextually informed assessments and alternatives.

At the end of the day, how does this subject-object relationship affect art projects? How does this differ from “socially engaged art”? And if the discourse in Japan revolves around relationalism, how does this relationalism ultimately evolve into the art projects of today? What transformations did it experience in the process of its modernisation in Japan and East Asia? There are still no clear answers to these questions in academic discourse. Continuing our pursuit for answers would no doubt allow us to further understand the place of art—regardless of which culture it’s from—and our expectations for it in today’s world.


Yeung Tin Shui is a fiction writer, reporter at Stand News, and PhD student at the Tokyo University of the Arts.



1. アートプロジェクト (āto purojekuto) is a transliteration of “art projects” in Japanese. It will be referred to in this essay as “art projects.”

2. Since 2018, the Hong Kong government’s Art Promotion Office has set up a Hong Kong House at the triennial to commission artists to exhibit in Japan, with the project set to run till at least 2021.

3. Hashimoto, T. Regional potentials and Art-energy. Tokyo: Gakuyo Shobo, 1997.

4. Kumakura, S., Kikuchi, T. and Nagatsu, Y., eds. Art Projects: Art and the Co-creation of Society. Tokyo: Suiyosha, 2014.

5. Yeung, Tin Shui. “I tried organising all the artworks featured in Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial into a database, and this is what happened.” Stand News, 12 July 2018.

6. Thompson, N. Living as form: Socially engaged art from 1991-2011. New York: Creative Time, 2012.

7. Bishop, C. (2004). Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics. October, 110, 51-79. doi:10.1162/0162287042379810

8. Laclau, E., and Mouffe, C. Hegemony and socialist strategy: Towards a radical democratic politics. London: Verso, 1985/2014. Though academics and critics like Justin Jesty have challenged Claire Bishop on this point, we shall not go into unnecessary detail as this is not the focus of the essay.

9. For instance, see Fujita, Naoya. Regional Art: Aestheticism / Institutions / Japan. Tokyo: Horinouchi, 2016.

10. Ibid.

11. In the book, art projects are referred to as “regional art.”

12. Davis, B. “A critique of social practice art: What does it mean to be a political artist?” International Socialist Review 90, 2013. Accessed September 25, 2018.

13. Kajiya, K. "Japanese Art Projects in History." Field: A Journal of Socially-Engaged Art Criticism, 7 (2017). Accessed April 6, 2019.

14. Hideki, Nitta. “Gendai Amerika no paburikku āto [Public Art in Contemporary America],” Miyagi ken bijutsukan kenkyū kiyō [Bulletin of the Miyagi Museum of Art], no. 3 (March 1988): 1–7.

15. “Art for Whom?: The Possibilities of Public Art,” Bijutsu techō, no. 673 (August 1993): 15–94.

16. Kitagawa, Fram. (1995). Betsusatsu tayo: Paburikku a-to no sekai [The Sun supplement: The World of Public Art]. Tokyo: Heibonsha; Kashiwagi, H. (1993). Paburikku ato wa nani wo kizukaseruka (tokushu “darenotamenobijutsunanoka”) [What do public art remind us? (Supplement: Art for whom?)]. Bijutsu techo no. 8: 64-71.

17. Kitagawa, Fram. Betsusatsu tayo: Paburikku a-to no sekai [The Sun supplement: The World of Public Art]. Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1995.

18. Fujita, Naoya. Regional Art: Aestheticism / Institutions / Japan. Tokyo: Horinouchi, 2016.

19. Kumakura, S., Kikuchi, T. and Nagatsu, Y., eds. Art Projects: Art and the Co-creation of Society. Tokyo: Suiyosha, 2014.

20. Kajiya, K. "Chiiki ni tenkai suru nihon no ato purojekuto rekishi teki haikei to gurobaru na bunmyaku" [Japanese Art Project practiced in regional area: Historical background and global context] In N. Fujita, ed. Chiiki ato bigaku/seido/nihon [Regional Art: Aesthetic / institutions / Japan] (Tokyo: Horinouchi, 2016): 95-133.

21. The second iteration of Jan Hoet in Tsurugi was held in 1994.

22. Kajiya, K. "Chiiki ni tenkai suru nihon no ato purojekuto rekishi teki haikei to gurobaru na bunmyaku" [Japanese Art Project practiced in regional area: Historical background and global context] In N. Fujita, ed. Chiiki ato bigaku/seido/nihon [Regional Art: Aesthetic / institutions / Japan] (Tokyo: Horinouchi, 2016): 95-133.

23. Kajiya, K. Nihon no ato purojekuto: sono rekishi to kinnen no tenkai [Japanese Art Project: The history and recent development]. In Hiroshima atopurojekuto 2009 “Kippomaru” [Hiroshima Art Project 2009: “Kippomaru”] (Hiroshima: Hiroshima Ato Purojekuto, 2010): 261-72.

24. Kuroda, R. Nikutai no anakizumu [Anarchism of body]. Tokyo: Grambooks, 2010.

25. Kumakura, S., Kikuchi, T. and Nagatsu, Y., eds. Art Projects: Art and the Co-creation of Society. Tokyo: Suiyosha, 2014.

26. Jesty, Justin. Art and engagement in early postwar Japan. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2018.

27. Yoshihara, J. "Gutai bijutsu sengen" [Gutai Art Declaration] In Geijutsu Shincho [New Wave of Art] (Tokyo: Shinchosha, 1956): 202-04.

28. Kajiya, K. "Nihon no ato purojekuto: sono rekishi to kinnen no tenkai" [Japanese Art Project: The history and recent development]. In Hiroshima atopurojekuto 2009 “Kippomaru” [Hiroshima Art Project 2009: “Kippomaru”]. (Hiroshima: Hiroshima Ato Purojekuto, 2010): 261-272.

29. Kumakura, S., Kikuchi, T. & Nagatsu, Y., eds. Art Projects: Art and the Co-creation of Society. Tokyo: Suiyosha, 2014.

30. Ibid.

31. Ibid.

32. Tomii, Reiko. Localizing Socially Engaged Art: Some Observations on Collective Operations in Prewar and Postwar Japan, FIELD no. 7 (2017).

33. Ibid.

34. See Kester, G. H. Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art. Updated Edition with a New Preface. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2004/2013. and Kester G. H. The One and The Many: Contemporary Collaborative Art in a Global Context. Durham: Duke University Press, 2011 etc.

35. See Bishop, Claire. "Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics." October 110, (2004): 51-79. and Bishop, Claire. "The Social Turn: Collaboration and Its Discontents." Artforum (February 2006). and Bishop, Claire. Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship. London: Verso Books, 2012 etc.

36. Bourriaud, Nicolas. Relational aesthetics. Dijon: Les Presses du Réel, 2010.

37. Bishop, Claire. Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics. October 110 (2004): 51-79. 

38. Another example is Koizumi, M. “Shakai to kakawaru geijitsu (Socially Engaged Art)” no tenkai: 1990-2000 no douko to, nihon de nokatsudo wo sanshoshite [The beginning of “Socially Engaged Art”: The development in 1990-2000, taking reference from activities in Japan]. (Doctoral diss., Tokyo University of the Arts, Tokyo, Japan, 2011). The author and I have similar thoughts on the subject and I have written a few articles on this.

39. Kumakura, S., Kikuchi, T. and Nagatsu, Y., eds. Art Projects: Art and the Co-creation of Society. Tokyo: Suiyosha, 2014.



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Off the Shelf | A Seminar on Post-1945 Japanese Art

Off the Shelf | A Seminar on Post-1945 Japanese Art

Reiko Tomii situates 1960s Japanese art in the broader history of modern and contemporary art