About the Concept

Thinking about the World through “Connectivity” and “Isolation”

While the world today is expanding beyond traditional frameworks, and various kinds of networks are growing, it is being shaken to its foundations by challenges such as conflict, refugees and immigration, and the emergence of protectionism, xenophobia, and populism. At the same time, the world is awash in data far exceeding the processing capacity of human beings, and in an increasingly complex and sophisticated environment where communication tools such as social media are developing rapidly, people appear to be banding together into small, disparate groups of “island universe” and communities. Also, there is increasingly assertive activity by a wide range of small-scale organizations that challenge the dictates of superpowers and centralized political systems.

Against this backdrop of widespread disruption of conventional social frameworks and values, Yokohama Triennale 2017 embarks on a multi-faceted examination, through art, of the themes of connectivity and isolation, under the title “Islands, Constellations & Galapagos.” We will contemplate the world in which conflicting concepts and phenomena are intricately intertwined and constantly in flux, the nature of identity and diversity, and how the courage, imagination and creativity of human beings can be used to derive a new vision and ground design for the future when our future remains uncertain. At the main venues ‒ Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse No. 1, and Yokohama Port Opening Memorial Hall ‒ works in diverse media by approximately 40 artists or groups from Japan and the world will be exhibited. It will resemble an aggregation of small solo exhibitions by a smaller-than-usual number of carefully selected artists, with many of them showing multiple works. This is intended to give the viewers a deeper understanding of individual artists’ creative worlds, and at the same time, to embody the image of these worlds gradually connecting like stars or islands forming constellations and archipelagoes.

Participants include artists who consistently address issues with their own unique methods, and carry out activities that transcend existing frameworks and concepts, as well as collaborations among artists and projects that address pressing social issues from an artistic point of view. The themes dealt in their works are broad: some refer to the individual and society, the self and other, and states and national borders, and others question different historical views, human activities, and civilizations as well as specifically Japanese issues of isolation. Encountering with works on various themes will enable viewers to develop their thinking about the cycles of history, the continental world and the island world, and alternative ways of dealing with various issues.

In the planning and conceptualizing stages, the Triennale has deepened the concept from various angles through a Conception Meeting that includes experts from different fields. Also, we are organizing the “Yokohama Round,” a series of dialogues also featuring experts from various fields, as a platform for discussions and sharing/co-existence in exploring ideas through both visual examination and dialogue. In addition, we will collaborate with the local educational institutions such as the Yokohama Graduate School of Architecture (Y-GSA) of Yokohama National University and highlight historical sites in the city, seeking to approach the historical background of the opening of the port and the nation as a whole from multifaceted and locally grounded perspectives.

MIKI Akiko

Yokohama Triennale 2017
Curator / International Artistic Director, Benesse Art Site Naoshima


Yokohama Triennale 2017

Opening Up New Possibilities:
Connecting Those Who are Separated and Isolated, through Dialogue, Thought and Imagination

This year is a big year for international exhibitions of contemporary art, many of which are biennales or triennales. Overseas, there will be Skulptur Projekte Münster, which takes place once every 10 years, the Venice Biennale, and documenta, and in Japan many international exhibitions in addition to the Yokohama Triennale. This flourishing landscape could scarcely have been imagined when the first Yokohama Triennale was held in 2001.

Under these circumstances, this sixth Triennale aims to maintain an awareness of the distinctive history and essence of Yokohama, and preparations have advanced in a manner that differs from previous editions, with a focus on dialogue and discussion, securing the cooperation of multidisciplinary experts not only in the art field but in others as well. In an era when our daily lives are deeply affected by global issues such as the benefits and drawbacks of globalization, changes in the earth’s environment, and people’s increasing introversion and isolation, the importance of knowing others, engaging in dialogue, and stopping to think things over is greater than ever.

Organizing the art exhibition, Conception Meeting and Yokohama Round as three indivisible parts of one whole in this edition of the Triennale is our desire to connect that which differs, those who are separated and isolated, through dialogue, thought and imagination, and to help open up new possibilities. We will also host the general meeting of the IBA (International Biennial Association) in September to engage in a face-to-face exchange and dialogue with the biennale / triennale organizers from around the world.

Through Yokohama Triennale 2017, we hope to offer numerous people opportunities to enjoy the creativity and diverse perspectives of contemporary art, and to spread wide the wings of the imagination.


Yokohama Triennale 2017
Director, Yokohama Museum of Art


Yokohama and Triennale

From Yokohama, the First Port that Opened its Doors to the World

2017 marks the 150th year since the return of political power to the Emperor in 1867, which signified the collapse of the feudal system and the beginning of Japan’s drastic modernization. With the restoration of Imperial sovereignty, Japan ceased to be a nation ruled by samurai, and the new Meiji Period (1868-1912) of rapid change began. One major factor contributing to this change was the opening of Japan’s ports to overseas trade during the Ansei Era (1854-1860), after over centuries of enforced seclusion. The village of Yokohama, which had been no more than an impoverished hamlet during the Edo Period (1603-1868), was one of the new trading ports that opened in 1859, and its infrastructure rapidly developed. Inevitably, as a new international crossroads of trade, people, and culture, Yokohama became one of the cities leading Japan on its dramatic march away from Galapagos-like isolation, toward connectivity with the world, and eventually to modernization.

This edition of the Yokohama Triennale aims to examine the diverse issues we face today in a multidisciplinary fashion, drawing ideas from various perspectives closely tied to the overall theme, including “connectivity” and “isolation.” One aspect of this will be a conscious focus on the historical background of Yokohama, which may seem at first glance to be unrelated to contemporary art. The selection as venues of historic buildings in the city that symbolize Japan’s modernization, and the inclusion of artists that address Yokohama’s historical record and topography, is also based on that viewpoint, as is our identification and introduction of several historical sites and facilities near the venue that seem to resonate deeply with the theme of this Triennale.


Yokohama Triennale 2017
Project Director, Yokohama Museum of Art


Conception Meeting Members

Conception meeting members consisting of experts from various fields were convened to deeper the concept and decide on the title of Yokohama Triennale through discussions that transcend the barriers of existing ideological frameworks and specializations.

Suhanya RAFFEL

Executive Director, M+ Museum


Artist / MIT Media Lab Assistant Professor


Art Historian / Director, Ohara Museum of Art / Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo


Artist / Professor, Columbia University School of the Arts

WASHIDA Kiyokazu

Philosopher / President, Kyoto City University of Arts / Director, sendai mediatheque

YORO Takeshi

Anatomist / Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo

Yokohama Lounge

In the Yokohama Lounge, viewers can take a break during the exhibition to unwind, and also engage with information and ideas that served as inspiration when working out the Triennale’s themes and concepts, as well as statements and proposals from the Conception Meeting members. These diverse “materials” may appear on the surface unrelated to the Triennale’s theme, but we believe individual viewers will connect them via their own unique ideas and viewpoints, and embark on mental journeys with limitless possibilities by exploring their relation to the exhibited works.

Yokohama Sites

Yokohama Triennale 2017’s theme and main keywords are connectivity, isolation, co-existence, and diversity. We refer to facilities implementing projects and exhibitions linked to these keywords, and places and buildings with historical backgrounds as “Yokohama Sites,” which are introduced here. Meanwhile, the artist Tamura Yuichiro combines several sites like stars and creates Constellation γ(Gamma), a narrative with a unique viewpoint. Visitors can view the story Tamura has woven in the former third-class dining hall of the ship NYK Hikawamaru moored in Yamashita Park.

Dialogue Series: “Yokohama Round”

Yokohama Round invites experts from various fields for a roundtable discussion, conducting several rounds of dialogues and discussions. It kicked off in January 2017 prior to the opening of the Yokohama Triennale and will conclude at the closing of the Yokohama Triennale 2017.

(As of April 18, 2017/ Dates, themes and speakers may be subject to change.)

Date Theme Speakers[General Facilitator: MIKI Akiko]
Round 1
January 15
Art Between 0 and 1
What is the significance of art in a contemporary society increasingly reduced to a digital world of 0 and 1?
YORO Takeshi
Anatomist / Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo
FUSE Hideto
Art Critic / Anatomist
Round 2
March 25
Creation and Contamination
Focusing on different cultures and languages, intersecting value systems, and contamination, and reexamining the issues as well as the new creative possibilities that emerge in the contemporary landscape of rising conservatism.
Artist / Professor, Columbia University School of the Arts
Cultural Anthropologist / Critic / Professor, the Graduate School of Global Studies, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies
Artist / MIT Media Lab Assistant Professor
Round 3
May 28
Islands and Alternatives: Art, Medicine, History and Society
With “island” as a keyword, the speakers explore alternative possibilities diverging from traditional value systems and world views from a broad perspective.
MAP Office
INABA Toshiro
Medical Doctor / Assistant Professor, Cardiovascular Internal Medicine Department, Tokyo University Hospital
Scholar of Sociology, Cultural Studies and Media Studies / Professor, Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies, The University of Tokyo
Round 4
August 4-5
The Connected World and the Isolated World
Exploring the views and works of artists who poetically and critically decode the connectivity and isolation of the current 21st-century world.
Approximately 20 participating artists
Round 5
August 26
Galapagos Considered
From the standpoint of autonomous life that persists while changing and adapting to its environment, what new possibilities can be seen when we examine nature, society, the Internet, the economy, and community?
Dominick CHEN
Media Design Theorist /Associate Professor, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University
Human Behavioral Ecologist / Physical Anthropologist / Executive Director & Professor, The Graduate University for the Advanced Studies
Round 6
September 18
New Public Space and Art
Based on the theme of isolation and connectivity, the speakers will discuss how the public spaces are changing and what are the relationships between the urban structure, architecture and art.

*Co-organized by Yokohama Graduate School of Architecture (Y-GSA), Yokohama National University
Architect / Emeritus Professor, Yokohama National University
NAITO Hiroshi
Architect / Emeritus Professor, The University of Tokyo
Architect / Professor, Yokohama Graduate School of Architecture (Y-GSA), Yokohama National University
Researcher of Urban Planning / Emeritus Professor, Yokohama National University
Round 7
October 21
Where Do We Come From? Where Are We Going?
An examination of the imaginative and expressive actions we take to explore the lives we live, here and now, and from now into future, in relation to the vast time and space.
HIRANO Keiichiro
Astrobiologist /Professor, Graduate School and Faculty of Engineering, Yokohama National University
Round 8
November 3
Aspiring to Find More Beautiful Constellations: What Is the Potential of Art?
In a world where the future remains unclear, can art connect things that are invisible, turn perspectives around or enable thoughts to take a leap into a different level for envisioning or designing the future?
Concept Meeting Members
+ Yokohama Triennale 2017 Directors

Yokohama Screening

Approximately 20 titles related to the exhibition theme and documentaries related to participating artists will be shown over the course of four days.

Yokohama Program

In collaboration with Tsurumi University, classic texts and maps from the university will be exhibited, reading “isolation” and “connectivity” in rare manuscripts from the Tsurumi University Library. Meanwhile, A play by Suizokukan Gekijou set in Yokohama will be performed in an enormous tent theater suddenly appearing in the midst of the city. They set up a tent like a phantom island in the heart of one of Japan’s largest day-laborer communities, Kotobuki-cho, where the population is aging and increasingly isolated.

Image Visual

Image visual to be used in posters, etc.

Inspired by the World Turtle depicted in Hindu mythology, this image visual sets the cityscape of Yokohama on top of the Galapagos tortoise, and combines the Japanese traditional pattern of Kikkomon, or tortoiseshell.

Creative Lab PARTY

This image visual is designed by PARTY, a Creative Lab with a focus on experimenting with design that utilizes technology, catering to the 'networked' world and the 'maker' culture. With offices in Tokyo and New York, they engage in various design projects from around the globe, ranging from brand communication, product, service, content; to event, and space design. They also invest their energies into research and development, building their own product prototypes.

Masashi Kawamura is the Executive Creative Director & Co-Founder of the creative Lab PARTY in Tokyo & New York. In addition to creating global campaigns for numerous brands, he explores creativity in a variety of fields beyond advertising, including TV programs and music videos. He has been chosen as one of the Creativity magazine’s "Creative 50," Fast Company’s “100 most creative people in business,” and AERA magazine’s "100 people breaking out of Japan."

Eiji Muroichi is a Visual Designer and Design Technologist who pursues a hybrid visual expression across multiple skills of Visual Design, 3DCG, Motion Graphics and Creative Codings. His career began in Japan and he worked for various global brands and won many international awards. He later moved to San Francisco to take the role as Art Director at AKQA, then joined the Creative Lab PARTY New York from 2014 as Design Director.