Four Out of Three

Freshly arrived, the Yokohama Triennale, sees Japan’s most important international art event of its kind responding to the theme of ‘Our Magic Hour’.


Ugo Rondinone ‘ Moonrise. East. March’ (2005). Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich. Photo: Ellen Page Photography, NYC.

Revolving around the two main venues of the Yokohama Museum of Art and NYK Waterfront Warehouse, this year’s offering will set its sights on art works and the practices of contemporary artists that address the ideas of mythology, myths and legend.

Under the artistic direction of Akiko Miki, the curatorial team will seize the opportunity not only to show new works by a vast array of international artists, but also to highlight pieces within the museum’s collection that engage with the thematic.

Fully titled “Our Magic Hour – How Much of the World Can We Know?” the exhibition concept behind the fourth manifestation of the triennale will be to focus on the tension between the knowledge and certainty created by contemporary science and technology and the myriad of enigmas and mysteries that continue to characterise the human experience. In her statement on the approach to the exhibition, Akiko Miki stresses that the intention is neither to attack science and empiricism, nor to elevate mysticism, but rather to highlight certain marginalized ideas and approaches the living of life. It is her position that considering such questions as to what our values now are or what exactly our relationship is to the natural world might be useful starting points for reconsidering our actual creed as human beings.

In practical terms, the manifestation of such erudite and abstract thinking will see over 50 artists exhibit works that engage with exactly these kinds of questions, these spaces between what we believe with certainty as a result of a logical scientific world and what, intuitively, remains unknown. Taking its very name from a work by Ugo Rondinone that will be displayed outside the Yokohama Museum of Art as part of the triennale, there is also a strong strand of institutional critique –or perhaps more accurately, reinvention- running through this particular manifestation of the triennale. By including numerous pieces from the museum’s collection, including older works, there is an attempt to redefine the institution’s relationship to society, to consider its role in addressing the very questions raised by the triennale.

Whilst the triennale has traditionally been an important showcase for the best of Japanese contemporary art, it has always simultaneously been an opportunity to bring top international artists’ works to Japan, a fitting endeavour for Japan’s first port city to open up to international trade. This year’s manifestation will be no different and works by both renowned international names will be shown alongside those of emerging talent in a line-up that includes artists of diverse generations, cultures and artistic positions. And, since this is one of Japan’s most popular art events – visitor numbers literally hit six figures- it is one of the best platforms for which an artist could hope in wanting to reach a broad audience.

The Yokohama Triennale 2011 will continue until November 2011.


Dewar & Gicquel ‘Otter & Trout’ 2007. Installation view FRAC Basse Normandie, Caen. Courtesy of Galerie Loevenbruck, Paris. Photo: Marc Domage

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