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A Mori Art Museum Exhibition Shows What Art Can Do in Times of Catastrophe

  • Catastrophe and the Power of Art
  • Catastrophe and the Power of Art
  • Yoko Ono - Add Color Painting (Refugee Boat), 1960 / 2016-2018
  • Thomas Hirschhorn - Collapse, 2018
  • Miyajima Tatsuo - Sea of Time - TOHOKU (2018 Tokyo), 2018
  • Kato Tsubasa - The Lighthouses - 11.3 PROJECT, 2011 / 2018
  • Isaac Julien - PLAYTIME, 2014
  • Ai Weiwei - Odyssey, 2016 / 2018
November 27, 2018
A philosophy graduate interested in theory, politics and art. Alias of Jelena Martinović.

Recent decades saw a range of catastrophes which were brought upon the world, from 9/11 in 2001 to the global financial crisis of 2008, the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, and so on. Many artists produced works dealing with these tragic events, passing these stories to future generations. Coming from a personal perspective, these works expose a different kind of truth or offer new visions and hopes.

The current exhibition at the Mori Art Museum explores what art can do in chaotic times where the future is uncertain, commemorating Roppongi Hills and Mori Art Museum’s 15th anniversary. Titled Catastrophe and the Power of Art, the works on display explore how art deals with these events.

The show brings together works by 40 international artists, including Yoko Ono, Shiva Ahmadi, Ai Weiwei, Miroslaw Balka, Thomas Demand, Fujii Hikaru, Kato Tsubasa, Isaac Julien, and Gillian Wearing.

Miyamoto Ryuji - Kobe 1995 After the Earthquake - Nagata-ku, 1995
Miyamoto Ryuji – Kobe 1995 After the Earthquake – Nagata-ku, 1995. Gelatin silver print, 51 x 61 cm. Collection: Mori Art Museum, Tokyo

Turning Negative into Postive

As we try to recover from catastrophes, whether personal or global, we release energy which can spark imagination and boost creative output. Many artists work to create a better society, sharing hopes for reconstruction and rebirth and playing a role in our recovery.

The exhibition brings together a breadth of artistic positions which deal with today’s mounting crises of war, terrorism, burgeoning refugee numbers, and destruction of the environment, turning negative into positive.

Ikeda Manabu - Rebirth, 2013-2016
Ikeda Manabu – Rebirth, 2013-2016. Pen, acrylic ink, transparent watercolor on paper, mounted on board, 300 x 400 cm. Collection: Saga Prefectural Art Museum. Digital archive: TOPPAN PRINTING CO., LTD.. Courtesy: Mizuma Art Gallery, Tokyo / Singapore

Exhibition Sections

The exhibition will be divided into several indoor and outdoor sections. The first section titled How Does Art Depict Disaster? – Documentation, Recreation, Imagination will present works showing disasters, such as earthquakes and tsunamis, as well as accidents, wars and personal tragedies. Showing works ranging from the realist and the fictional to the extremely abstract, the section will address the capacity of art to blend beauty and humor into the expression of catastrophe.

The second section titled Creation from Destruction – The Power of Art will explore the way catastrophes serve as a catalyst for artists to create art, helping us imagine a better future. It explores the art’s strength to take a negative and turn it into a positive.

The outdoor showings include two works by Yoko OnoWish Tree, which has been rolling around the world since 1996, and War Is Over, which was first presented by Lennon and Ono in 1969 as the Vietnam War intensified.

Takeda Shimpei - Trace # 7, Nihonmatsu Castle, 2012
Takeda Shimpei – Trace # 7, Nihonmatsu Castle, 2012. Gelatin silver print, 50.8 x 60 cm. Collection: the amana collection, Tokyo

The Power of Art at the Mori Art Museum

The exhibition Catastrophe and the Power of Art will be on view at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo until January 20th, 2019.

The international symposium Art in a Time of Catastrophe: What are Artists and Art Organizations Doing? featuring a wide-ranging line-up of guest speakers, will take place on December 15th, 2018, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Gallery Talk by museum staff will be conducted in a gallery-tour format on December 5th, 2018, between 2 and 3 p.m., while the Gallery Talk by exhibition curator Kondo Kenishi will be organized on January 9th, 2019, between 7 and 8 p.m.

It will be accompanied by a catalog featuring essays by Gerrit Jasper Schenk, Professor, Technische Universitat Darmstadt, Germany and Art Critic at Charlesworth, and Hoshino Futoshi, Philosopher, Kanazawa College of Art and Kondo Kenichi, Curator, Mori Art Musuem.

Featured image: “Catastrophe and the Power of Art,” Mori art Museum, Tokyo, 2018. Photo by Kioku Keizo; Yoko Ono – Add Color Painting (Refugee Boat), 1960 / 2016-2018. Participatory installation, Dimensions variable. Collection of the artist. Installation view: “Catastrophe and the Power of Art,” Mori art Museum, Tokyo, 2018. Photo: Kioku Keizo. Photo courtesy: Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; Thomas Hirschhorn – Collapse, 2018. Mixed media sculpture, Dimensions variable. Collection of the artist. Production support: The Institute of Art, Okutama. Courtesy: Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris. Installation view: “Catastrophe and the Power of Art,” Mori art Museum, Tokyo, 2018. Photo: Kioku Keizo. Photo courtesy: Mori Art Museum, Tokyo;  Miyajima Tatsuo – Sea of Time – TOHOKU (2018 Tokyo), 2018. LED, electric wire, integrated circuit, photograph, Dimensions variable. Collection of the artist. Installation view: “Catastrophe and the Power of Art,” Mori art Museum, Tokyo, 2018. Photo: Kioku Keizo. Photo courtesy: Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; Kato Tsubasa – The Lighthouses – 11.3 PROJECT, 2011 / 2018. Video, photograph, wood. Dimensions variable. Collection of the artist. Production support for the installation: Fujino-yu (Ogikubo, Tokyo), Otsuka Komuten, Taniguchi Heavy Industries. Courtesy: MUJIN-TO Production. Installation view: “Catastrophe and the Power of Art,” Mori art Museum, Tokyo, 2018. Photo: Kioku Keizo. Photo courtesy: Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; Isaac Julien – PLAYTIME, 2014. 3-channel high-definition installation, 5.1 surround sound, 64 min. 12 sec. Courtesy: Victoria Miro, London; Ai Weiwei – Odyssey, 2016 / 2018. Digital print, Dimensions variable. Collection of the artist. Installation view: “Catastrophe and the Power of Art,” Mori art Museum, Tokyo, 2018. Photo: Kioku Keizo. Photo courtesy: Mori Art Museum, Tokyo.