Monday, April 27, 2009
"A More Artistic Japan? - Meeting Artists on the Fringe of Ginza"
I hesitate to write this, as it's not based on proper research, but rather just my own observation and surmising. Nevertheless, combined with some generally well-known trends, it might even be on the mark.
In the early eighties, there was talk in Japan of how the country could be a little less obsessive about working and studying all the time - how this might be the key to becoming a more creative country, where ideas were not just successfully taken in and implemented, but where innovation and new ideas would originate. And so the six-day work week soon became a five-day work week, and soon thereafter, the six-day school week became a five-day school week (at public schools anyway - many private schools still have six-day weeks). In school, the amount of homework was reduced, and the grading system was simplified in order to place less emphasis on completing for top grades. (Ironically, this led to ever more people sending their kids to juku's [cram schools] after school, but going into that now would derail the point of what I'm writing about.)
And here we are in 2009, with the current crop of people in their early twenties being the product of the changes made to the educational system. There are stories in the newspapers about how fewer and fewer college students are studying science, and how science and math test scores are down compared with other countries, etc. In fact, people are so worried, that they've begun reversing the changes made in the late eighties and early nineties. More homework, talk of returning to the old educational system, etc.
The upside to all this? There seem to be many more people interested in art - certainly in creating it, and hopefully also in appreciating it.
Hmm.... Just when I reach the part where I thought I'd take off and write several paragraphs, I realize I've basically said what I wanted to say, so... there it is.
Why do I bring this up? I've recently spent a little time checking out some art galleries over on the edge of Ginza in 1-chome, a bit away from the central (and more fashionable) part of (overly?) fashionable Ginza, and the following gallery and artists' links are from postcards I picked up while walking around looking at art and talking to artists. Most of the art on the cards (one example from Naoko Fukuda at the top of this page) I saw myself (but not the sample at the top of the page, which I unfortunately missed!).
I may be wrong in my assessment of Japan becoming more creative and artistic, but I hope not. In talking with young artists at exhibitions on the fringe of Ginza (some from Tokyo, some in town from other regions of the country), I believe that there really is a wave of artistry rising up with this next/current generation.
It may turn out to be a special generation - as the world heads into more troubled waters, and the educational system goes back to an environment more conductive to math and science, and less tolerant of art and free thinking. But change is the only constant anyway, and once you have a generation thinking in a different way, that thinking doesn't change overnight.
And so, as I feel myself on the verge of derailing the point of this... essay (is that what it is?), I'll stop here and leave the links below:
Ginza 1-9-8 (Okuno Bldg.)
Gallery Ginza Itchome
Illustrator - Nishibata Nobuhiro
APS - A Piece of Space
Ginza 1-9-8 511 & 502
Gallery L Mer
exhibit Live & Moris Gallery
leather & brass artist
Gallery Platform Studio