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Artistic Aspirations, Foiled

Today, for a bit of culture on my off day, I went to the National Art Center located in Roppongi, Tokyo. The building itself is quite lovely, with a rippled glass exterior and interesting upside-down conical concrete structures that feel a little bit like massive stalactites in the main atrium. The other somewhat curious feature of the museum is that you don't pay for entrance to the museum itself, you pay for admission to each individual exhibit. On the one hand it means you are only paying for what you want to see, but on the other hand each ticket is...pretty expensive. So I elected to see only one exhibit: a contemporary art exhibit from artists of the eleven ASEAN countries called "Sunshower."



You don't often see exhibits that include artists from Brunei, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Malyasia (just to name a few), and the art was certainly infused with explicit references to colonialism, geo-politics, revolution, home, and personal identity. 

This is just a small selection from the expansive exhibit: 


A deceptively peaceful work that has a bomb at the epicenter of the painting; more bombs are hidden in the fringes of the painting. When I first passed it I didn't even notice the explosives: instead, I was drawn to the soothing colors which were such a departure from the harsh palates of most of the other art. It took a second look for me to see what was actually going on.



Sign language spelling out "demokrasi." The hand forming the letter "i" is shown wrapped up in rope to symbolize how we, too, are bound and incapable of actually realizing true democracy. Visitors could take a slip of paper and stop at each wooden bench to stamp out the corresponding letter.



Mixed media work with revolutionary symbols.



A morbid, clownish play on traditional shadow-puppetry.



The end result of a piece of performance art where the artist sewed a black garment, then chalked five lines on the wall saying "I'm so sorry" each time. 


Perhaps one of the most interesting (and interactive) works was an installment called "Golden Ghost Why I'm Not Where You Are."


The exhibit was an entire room filled with bunches of yarn that went wall-to-wall and at least two feet deep. Seven golden necklaces were hidden in the room and any visitor that found one could take the necklace home (according to one of the museum staff five had been found already). The act of searching for the necklace in the room of yarn was intended to represent human hope. Given that 99.9999% of people give up before finding one, I wonder what that says about art and hope...



At any rate, it was quite a comfortable lounging space...



I did not find a golden necklace. Also, my hair is getting very long...



After that futile search I headed back home just in time to receive my delivery shipment from Nitori (yes, I bought some "assembly-required" furniture from them!) and put it together. I got a rolling "kitchen wagon," which is basically some rolling shelves that I can use as both more storage and, most importantly, more COUNTER space.

Slowly getting used to (most aspects of) work. Expect a post in the future with what I've learned and what I'm (still) struggling with.

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