Accepted paper:

Exploring a Sense of Belonging: In Search of a New Art Research Methodology


Gunhild Borggreen (University of Copenhagen)
Anemone Platz (Aarhus University)

Paper short abstract:

Using recent art projects by Yokō Tadanori and the art unit Me as examples, this joint presentation will present ideas for new micro-level methodologies to analyse new types of project-based art forms that appear at the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale and the Setouchi Art Triennale

Paper long abstract:

This joint paper will begin by presenting some examples of art projects located in the context of two art festivals in Japan, the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale and the Setouchi Art Triennale. Yokō Tadanori's Teshima Yokoo House (2010) and the projects Completed Conjecture (2015) and Maze Town (2013, 2016) by the art unit Me are examples of how artists use existing houses and their surroundings to reinterpret the notion of "home" or "hometown". By transforming the materiality and surroundings of everyday objects and phenomena into "something else", the art projects highlights the potential of agency in materials, as well as in social relations and interactions. We use these examples to present and discuss art research methodologies appropriate for the new types of art projects that appear on Japanese contemporary art scene these days. By including these examples of artworks from the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale and the Setouchi Art Triennale, we will argue for micro-level analyses that can embrace an aesthetic approach while also relating to the "social turn" in critical art theory. Both art festivals were conceived as a means to strengthen the cultural and social ties in rural communities in order to safeguard the region's attraction to tourists, newcomers, and long-term residents. Central to the idea of "revitalization" is the notion of "belonging" to a specific area or way of life, formulated in the festivals' reinvention of words such as satoyama. While narratives of satoyama may work on a general level to attract regional, national, or international attention to the art festivals, we focus on direct encounter with the materiality of artworks, site and participants. Materiality and participatory processes are central for a micro-level methodology of fieldwork research that combines aesthetic analyses of the artwork with ethnographic observation and interview. By producing evidence-based empirical data on the impact of art on the local community with close attention to the artistic and creative processes as well as the aesthetic properties of the art project, it might be possible to explore the ways in which to create a "sense of belonging" through art.

panel S4a_05
Materiality and Processes in Japanese Art Festivals