The panel will discuss the need for new cross-disciplinary methodologies for new types of art in contemporary Japan. Using examples from recent Japanese art festivals, we propose a field study approach with attention to aesthetic as well as social dimensions of materiality and processes.
Since the 1990s, new types of contemporary art have emerged in Japan that emphasizes aesthetic as well as social values. Defined as aato purojekuto (art project), these new types of contemporary art forms are characterised as co-creative artistic activities that engage in local communities and pay attention to the art-making processes (rather than art as objects). Art projects are site specific, and artists communicate and collaborate with people of diverse social background as a means to use art for engaging in social fields outside art. These new art forms in Japan call for new methodologies within the field of Japanese art history research. Such new methodologies must be cross disciplinary in order to not only examine and evaluate the aesthetics properties of the art projects, but also to investigate the social impact of art forms that intend to engage in social fields outside art. This panel will focus on how art festivals such as the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale and the Setouchi Art Triennale are conceived and executed as part of a "revitalization" process in rural areas in Japan. Rather than focusing on the art festivals' reinvention of terms such as satoyama or machizukuri, we suggest that a "sense of belonging" may be located within the materiality and processes of the individual art projects embedded in the art festivals. We propose a field study approach, which includes significant attention to the materiality of artworks, natural surroundings, as well as human and object-based agency. The panel will include three papers that represent different approaches to different types of art projects as a means to discuss the advantages and challenges of cross-disciplinary research. The first paper by Gunhild Borggreen and Anemone Platz will present a method of micro-level aesthetics and ethnographic analyses, the second paper by Katherine Mezur will present a performance research perspective, while the third paper by Emil Bach Sørensen proposes a theoretical concept for grasping the vitalizing potentials of art.