To celebrate the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Austria and Japan, the exhibition showed from 26 September to 24 November 2019 some of some of Japan’s best-known and most active artists engaging with the limits and opportunities of politically and socially critical art in their country. The Exhibition was curated by Marcello Farabegoli.
In January 2019, the Japanese embassy to Austria recognized "Japan Unlimited" as official event of the anniversary "150 Years of Friendship Austria – Japan". On 30 October 2019, about five weeks after the opening of the exhibition, the embassy withdrew its symbolic support. The withdrawal caused headlines in almost all Austrian and Japanese media as well as in some important international media like New York Times, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "Japan Unlimited" had more than 21,000 visitors!
Makoto Aida (JPN), Chim↑Pom (JPN)*, Gianmaria Gava (ITA/AUT), Edgar Honetschläger (AUT), Sachiko Kazama (JPN), Jake Knight (GBR), BuBu de la Madeleine (JPN) & Yoshiko Shimada (JPN), Midori Mitamura* (JPN), Yoshinori Niwa* (JPN), Ryts Monet (ITA/AUT), Tomoko Sawada (JPN), Sputniko! (JPN), Ryudai Takano (JPN), Shinpei Takeda* (JPN), Momoyo Torimitsu (JPN), Hana Usui (JPN/AUT), Tomoko Yoneda (JPN), Naoko Yoshimoto (JPN).
This exhibition goes in search of two concepts that denote behavioural codes in Japanese society – tatemae (“masquerade”, which relates to the expectations of the community) and honne (which refers to feelings hidden from the community) – dual principles that are enormously influential in Japanese society – and it investigates their role in contemporary Japanese art. Tatemae and honne govern the relationship between the community and the individual, defining how coexistence functions through certain behavioural rules, laws, traditions and conventions – a phenomenon we see in different permutations in every society. In parallel with this, tatemae and honne reflect aesthetic questions that consider relationships between form and content, reality and representation, critique and affirmation, and so on.
The exhibition considers, for example, the kind of poetic practices, subtexts and metaphors that arise from precisely this tension between the avoidance of conflict and the open expression of criticism. Tatemae defines not only that which is best left unspoken, but also indirect forms of communication – the ways in which things can be reformulated or circumvented. The exhibition considers the control mechanisms that arise in the process, the ways people deal with them, and the position that critique and socially critical art assume in public discourse. In so doing, the works reveal indirect systems of control and associated power structures of official narratives. How do conscious transgressions of tatemae function in a socio-political context – and are they pushing artistic practices to the limit?
As part of the exhibition, six artists-in-residence from Japan will be guests of the Q21/MuseumsQuartier, developing new works for the exhibition and contributing to participatory events. In addition, discussions, talks, workshops, performances and actions will accompany the exhibition, especially in the context of the Viennacontemporary and the Vienna Art Week.
Japan Unlimited is organised by Q21 / MuseumsQuartier Wien in cooperation with the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs.
Side events with Judith Brandner (ORF), Dorothee Frank (Ö1), Lucas Gehrmann (Kunsthalle Wien), Felicitas Thun-Hohenstein (Akademy of Fine Arts Vienna & Austrian Pavillion Venice Biennale), Niklass Maak (FAZ), Diethard Leopold (ÖJG), Bernhard Scheid (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften), Gerorg Schneider (Japannual), Monika Sommer (Haus der Geschichte Österreich), Markus Wurzer (Graz University) and others. For further information, click here
curated by Marcello Farabegoli
Duration: 26 September – 24 November 2019
Opening: Inaugurated on 25 September 2019 by Elisabeth Hajek, Artistic Director frei_raum Q21 exhibition space / MQ, Marcus Bergmann, Ambassador and Deputy Head of Section V for External Cultural Relations of the Austrian Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs (BMEIA), Diethard Leopold, President of the Austrian-Japanese Society, and Marcello Farabegoli, curator of the exhibition.
Opening hours: Tue–Sun 1pm–4pm & 4:30pm–8pm, free admission
Location/Organizer: frei_raum Q21 exhibition space/MuseumsQuartier Wien, Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna, Austria
Kindly supported by BKA, BMEIA, Wien Kultur, tranzit.org / ERSTE Stiftung, JEF, Europe Direct, Bildrecht, Dorotheum, Chanoma, boesner, WKO-Wienproducts, Schlumberger, Ströck, Kesselbrüder, Japannual, Filmhaus, JM-tonundlicht, Franz-Hesso zu Leiningen, Diethard Leopold, Marcello Farabegoli Projects, et. al.