Yokohama Triennale 2014
The title of the exhibition in 2014, “ART Fahrenheit 451,” is needless to say derived from Ray Bradbury’s science fiction novel, Fahrenheit 451. It is a story about burning books and is set in a near-future society where people are forbidden to possess and read books.
With its successful futurist rendering of our contemporary society, it is hard to believe that this literary classic was written in 1953. But what is even more striking is that the novel evokes the significance of “forgetting.” In the story’s latter half, a group of men appear to claim themselves as “being books”. Each of them have picked up a book and have memorized its entire text. In a resistance against book burning, these people attempt to transform books from material into immaterial memory and secretly preserve only the essence of the books in their mind.
The “people who are books” are exiles from a society that bans books and can also be thought of as “absent people” because their existence and actions of turning books into invisible memories are absent from the visible working of society. In other words, they have become “forgotten people” whose presence has been erased. Bradbury ironically makes a point in Fahrenheit 451 that it is none other than the“forgotten people” that preserve the immense memories of books.
Human beings have discarded (=forgotten) an unimaginable quantity of information (and things) up until this moment. A far greater quantity of information (and things) must have been discarded before even being held in memory. Both the deceased and the yet-to-be-born or “memory in the future” may perhaps also be considered to be “the forgotten” as memories that are not memorized, in addition to memories that have probably been erased and banned by censorship and authorities. Things that do not speak, things we must not speak about, and things we are not able to speak about. Things we do not want to see, things we must not see, and things we can barely see. Trivial or useless things. Let us think about such innumerable things that fell out of the category of being worthy of being memorized, and let us take this to heart.
Let us shift our position from focusing on “memory” to focusing on the “forgotten” in order to see the world. Then, society, as well as every aspect of our lives, may appear to be utterly different from what we had seen before, and urge us to render this experience, this revelation, and/or this irresistible impulse into a form of expression. Certainly, this attitude toward art is possible, and it could be shared with many people. The word “oblivion” in the exhibition title of Yokohama Triennale 2014 is meant to observe such an attitude. As such, it will have nothing to do with unearthing forgotten history (art history) or sympathizing with nostalgic sentiments.
Haven’ t we left behind something that is fundamentally important? Have we moved on without realizing it, or simply, left it behind, while knowing it all along?
There are artists and artistic expressions that respond acutely to this realm of oblivion.
Yokohama Triennale 2014 will be a “voyage into the sea of oblivion.” It will make us recall things that have been inadvertently lost from our lives, things that have been perpetually forgotten by human beings, and particular things that have been lost in the contemporary age.
Things that are quiet fail to be recorded, and are therefore, forgotten. Whispers remain unheard unless we pay close attention. This is a voyage to explore the richness of the vast world of untold information.
Thought control, a process in which things are forcibly obliterated, is a tragedy that has recurred throughout human history. This is a voyage to reflect on this phenomenon and to put it into perspective.
Things that are not useful are discarded and forgotten. But there is a splendid means of saving them: art. This is a voyage that takes us to the essence of art.
People discard childhood memories in order to become adults. But some are so enthralled by their memories that they do not grow up. Artists are the epitome of this type. They are children who have failed to grow up. This is a voyage that takes us back to when we were first born, to a place that we left behind when we became adults.
The voyagers (viewers) will come to a vast sea of oblivion at the end of their journey. The world that extends beyond the sea is so vast that memories and information cannot match its scale. The voyagers will finally drift into this sea of oblivion. And each of them will search for a destination and set out on a different voyage of their own.
Things that do not speak, things we must not speak about, and things we are unable to speak about. Things we do not see and things we must not see. Trivial matters and useless actions.
This is a voyage that focuses our attentions on the innumerable things that have been deemed worthless in the realm of memory. It is a voyage to cultivate our gazes.
Yokohama Triennale 2014 aims to present a story of such a voyage through the mind.