25th Art Division Critiques

This Yearʼs Judging and a Concerning Trend

During the call for entries this year, I was afraid of seeing a major decrease in the number of entries, since
many exhibitions were canceled due to the COVID-19
pandemic. However, I was relieved to see many entries,
much the same as in previous years. As for the quality, there were many excellent works just like last year,
thanks to the applicants as well as the Art Division selection committee members, who were responsible for
the preliminary screening and went through quite a few
entries. Thanks to their efforts, we were able to evaluate
many quality entries again this year. However, no entry
this year showed overwhelming superiority that would
be considered indisputably worthy of the Grand Prize,
so judging the Grand Prize candidates required careful
consideration from various points of view. Personally, I
think that the Grand Prize winner, Sun and Moon Room,
is a valuable example of utilizing this field in a rural area,
and has the power to propel people to visit the site and
experience the artwork firsthand.
As for the Excellence Award, Social Impact Award,
and New Face Award, a great deal of time was spent
discussing which award should go to which work. The
works that unfortunately missed the awards were listed
in the Jury Selections, resulting in a considerably larger number than last year.
I would like to note that the
difference between the Jury Selections and the Awardwinning Works was within a narrow margin.
One thing that concerned me during this year’s judging was the trend from overseas entries; a considerably
large number of works were about climate change and
CO2 reduction. Although I recognize the significance of
the SDGs, I felt that the excessive abundance of works
with these themes might be an indication of the artists giving up on thinking. My idea of art is an activity
that starts from an individual’s awareness of an issue,
and is shaped into a piece after repeated research and
verification. I also think casually using only something
considered to be “social justice” as a theme is actually
risky. To my relief, “real” diversity was found among the
entries from Japan, but I wanted to note this point as a
finding from the judging process.

HACHIYA Kazuhiko
Artist and Associate Professor, Tokyo University of the Arts