18th Art Division Critiques

Awaiting a Revolution in Cutting-edge Art

Among this year's entries, works using light and sound were prominent while, due to the diffusion of international exhibitions and the popularization of contemporary art, interactive installations using lazers, video, and sound could also be seen. However, contemporary art is not limited to aesthetics and sensory stimulation. There has also been a trend in recent years to place importance on social concerns, and in the Art Division of this festival the works ultimately selected also deeply engage with reality. Nevertheless, as in previous years, the Grand Prize has stuck to the mold of pure art or art appreciation.
If we investigate this direction toward connecting society with art, then we find it is new media art that, through the use of social networks and big data, abounds with possibilities to extend the field into unexplored territories. The joy in being a judge in the Japan Media Arts Festival lies in being able to encounter astounding and beguiling works that, through approaches and methods different to those of conventional media art, invigorate social awareness. Within the current od art history, examples of conceptual art, with its emphasis on concept and language, can be found taking simple plastic forms.
The Jury Selection Double Standards - Somali Seajacks 2010-2012, a survey of 59 vessels that were attacked by Somali pirates over a two-year period, is an excellent work that can precisely be said to fl ow from this current, but at a comprehensive level its content would be difficult to understand immediately in an exhibition venue where physical receptivity is important.
All of the Excellence Award-winners demonstrate a high creative quality appropriate for the Grand Prize. However, if we look simply at the parameters of social criticality and the level of completion in terms of rich plasticity, the selected works could swing to either pole. The decision this year that none of the selections qualify for the Grand Prize was made with the sincere hope of encountering works that are a fusion of both aspects, exceeding mere consumption to convey a message for the future.
Although the heart leaps at cutting-edge creative experiences and plastic forms, works of long-term commitment can, while encouraging criticality in the viewer, and attempting to stave off transformations in a continually deteriorating global environment, exalt the spirit. It is precisely exemplary works of contemporary art that offer unparalleled intellectual stimulus to consider the future.

Art Critic
Born in Tokyo, OKABE was co-curator of The Japanese Avant-Gardes 1910-1970 exhibition at the National Modern Art Museum of Georges Pompidou Center in Paris, 1986-87, and Lecturer on Non-Occidental Art History at École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris, 1993-95. She was a professor of Art History and Museum Studies at Musashino Art University, 1999-2011, and a visiting scholar at New York University, 2006-07. She launched the Hanshin Art Project af ter the Hanshin-Awaji Ear thquake of 1995, as well as the Georges Rousse Art Project in Miyagi in 2013 after the Great Earthquake in Tohoku. She founded the Culture Power website for interaction with supporters of contemporary art. She is an advisor to the Shiseido Gallery. Her written works include Art Seed: Art Documentary Films on the Pompidou Center Collection and Art, Women, Image. She also directed the video Atsuko Tanaka: Another Gutai.