8th Yokohama Triennale “Wild Grass:OurLives”

Our Lives

The large space at the start of the exhibition is somewhat reminiscent of a camp. It looks like a campground surrounded by nature or a refugee camp where people huddle together.
Caught in disasters and wars, evacuated, fleeing, and wandering̶these “emergencies” are right at our doorstep. Countless people live in refugee camps and other harsh environments. We are all equally subject to unexpected and extraordinary situations, even as we go about our daily lives without thinking about them.
The works of the artists introduced in this chapter symbolically represent such crises. They give us clues to help us imagine the emergencies that may one day come. However, it is precisely at times like these, when our very safety is threatened and we are yearning to survive, that our creative power is stimulated and the possibilities of life are opened wide.
On a table in the center of the room is the Directory of Life. It is a collection of writings by artists, thinkers, social activists, and others since the 2000s about the current era, history, and life. These writings urge us not to stand idly by, but to put their ideas into practice.

Artist: Pippa GARNER
Title: Human Prototype

Mixed media
STARS gallery

Pippa Garner has been creating pioneering work since the 1960s, which allude to the sense of discomfor that stems from the images of men and women in advertisements and in the larger consumer society. On display in this chapter are photographs of automobiles and Garner themselves. Cars and soldiers are often associated with masculinity but in Garner’s work, these clichéd images seem to be disturbed. Also on view in the Grand Gallery is Human Prototype, a work comprised of body parts of men and women of different skin tones.

About the Artist
Place of Birth: Evanston, US
Based: Long Beach, US

Fires in the Woods

In this chapter, we look at history as a reflection of the present. It brings back moments in history when sparks flew as fiercely as when flint was struck.
Fires and sparks are metaphors for conflicts, confrontations, clashes, and incidents. In
this room, works that reflect on such historical events are displayed together with those that address the issues of today. In this way, the past and the present are blended and the differences between eras disappear. The suffering of people and their actions to cope with it instead emerge as the essence of life.
The works in this chapter were created by different artists, of course. But they are also the results of artists reacting to reality with a perspective common to all humanity. That is why they transcend the time and space in which the individual artists lived, and evoke empathy and resonance in us living in the present.

Artist: KURIYAGAWA Hakuson
Title: Leaving the Ivory Tower (published in 1933)
*The text above the wall of this gallery (excerpt from the above book)

Kuriyagawa Hakuson was a scholar of English literature and critic active during the Taisho period (1912-1926). At this time in Japan, capitalism was on the rise, and economic and political conflicts were intensifying. It was against this backdrop that Kuriyagawa published Leave the Ivory Tower (1920). He argued that artists should not remain in their “ivory towers,” but be closely engaged with real issues. In Symbols of Depression (1924), published after he died in the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, he argued that art is the very expression of anguish and despair that arises when human life force is suppressed. Lu Xun was translating Symbols of Depression at the same time he was writing Wild Grass, the ideas of which are also said to have been influenced by Kuriyagawa’s book.

About the Artist
Year of Birth: 1880-1923
Place of Birth: Kyoto
Based: Kyoto

Artist: Matthew HARRIS
Title: Consigned to Oblivion

Ochre, charcoal and acrylic binder
on linen (set of 7)
Courtesy of the Artist and FUTURES, Australia

Matthew Harris, who is of Australian Aboriginal descent, has been creating paintings and sculptures that are based on the complex history of his ancestors. This 13-meter-wide work depicts a vast number of boxes neatly arranged on shelves in a museum storage room. Inside these boxes are the artefacts and sacred objects of the Aboriginal peoples; since the end of the 18th century, tens of thousands of Aboriginal artefacts have been displaced for purposes of study and collection, and are still housed in public and private collections around the world. The boxes are colored in ochre, which is a special color used in sacred ceremonies.
The black of the charcoal used for the background is said to signify fire and rebirth. This work was painted with the hope to regain a lost identity.

About the Artist
Year of Birth: 1991-
Place of Birth: Wangaratta, Australia
Based: Melbourne

Streams and Rocks

In the chapter “Streams and Rocks,” we are introduced to the outpouring of life force in the clash between advancing and thwarting.
A stream is the constant vitality of life, a kind of latent energy that wells up. A rock, on the other hand, is like a difficulty, a stagnation, a problem that stubbornly stands in the way. When the flow hits a rock, it is blocked from moving forward, but at the same time, it creates energy there.
If we keep moving forward, the rock will eventually be scraped smooth and the flow will hit another rock. Interruptions and dead ends can break the continuity of meaning, but also create new meaning. Crisis and recovery always go hand in hand. In this sense, “Streams and Rocks” is a portrait of life as it is usually lived.
In this chapter, we focus on innocence, youth, carefreeness, exuberance, explosions, desire, serenity, mediocrity, and perseverance as signs of an effervescent life force. We then examine how these elements exercise their power on historical and contemporary issues. Youth, which never withers, is the source of the will to face challenges.

Artist: Norm CLASEN
Title: Cliff Jumpers, Riverton, WY

1983/2024 print
Archival pigment print
Collection of the Artist

Photographer Norm Clasen photographed cowboys in the American West between 1978 and 1991 for the Marlboro cigarette advertisement campaign. For 15 years, Clasen ate and rode with the cowboys and earned their trust and respect, which made these photographs possible. He also shot these photographs in harsh conditions of sand, rain, and snow, patiently waiting for the right light and the perfect moment. Sophisticated sensitivity and bold dynamism are condensed in Clasen’s images. His work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, billboards, and advertisements around the world, and continues to have a profound impact on many people’s lives.

About the Artist
Year of Birth: 1939- 
Place of Birth: Los Angeles 
Based: Carbondale, US 

Symbol of Depression

This chapter takes us back in time about 100 years. The title is taken from a book Symbol of Depression(1924)by the Japanese writer KURIYAGAWA Hakuson, who was active between 1900 and the 1920s. In 1924, while writing his poetry collection Wild Grass, LU Xun simultaneously translated this book by KURIYAGAWA. In it, KURIYAGAWA wrote:
“Literature is the pure expression of life. It is the only world where one can express one’s individuality in a state of absolute freedom, completely free from the oppression and compulsion of the outside world.” *
However, KURIYAGAWAgoesontosaythatthisfreedomofcreationdoesnotcomefrom a place where there are no restrictions, but from one where the forces that advance clash with the forces that restrain. In this sense, art is the “expression of depression” that arises from the struggle against “oppression and compulsion.” The antagonism between these two forces is not limited to the creation of art; it may be a universal condition for the outpouring of the power of our lives to open up the future.
LU Xun studied in Japan in 1902, then abandoned his medical career to become a writer. Upon his return to China, he used prints to promote modern ideas among the people. LU Xun’s collection of prints included works by Käthe KOLLWITZ, a printmaker who worked in sympathy with the German socialist movement.
※KURIYAGAWA Hakuson, Symbol of Depression, 1924, Kaizosha.

Artist: DOBAI Péter
Title: Archaic Torso (Archaikus Torzó)

Video (b/w, sound, 31min.)
Courtesy of the National Film Institute Nonprofit Private Share Company, Hungary

The year is 1971, in the People’s Republic of Hungary under a socialist regime. A well-muscled young man is working out in his garden. After a lunch with some fruits and raw eggs, he takes a philosophy book in his hand and starts to talk enthusiastically about how to live a perfect life with the mind and body in perfect harmony. But halfway through, he grows more and more restless, and eventually…. What we see here is a collision between the strong human desire for order and the uncontrollable life force that emanates from the body. In this documentary, Péter Dobai portrays the young man as a symbol of the social strains and oppression in strictly controlled times.

About the Artist
Year of Birth: 1944-
Place of Birth: Budapest
Based: —

Artist: Authored by LU Xun Published by Hokushin Shokyoku
Title: Wild Grass

Ochanomizu University

Born in eastern China, Lu Xun came to Japan as a foreign student in 1902. He studied medicine in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, but was awakened to literature as he became exposed to modern European thought and Japanese literature. When he returned home after seven years in Japan, he found that China was in a period of turmoil. Lu Xun thought that in order to build a better country, it was important to strengthen people’s minds and nurture their ability to think for themselves. He believed that literature would be most effective in realizing these goals. In1918, he contributed his first novel to a magazine, and his vigorous creative efforts in Beijing thereafter culminated in a novel style of expression that conveyed the inner workings of the human mind in a colloquial tone, something that had not existed in previous Chinese literature. Wild Grass (1927) is a work from this period when Lu Xun’s creativity was at its peak. The work is teeming with life, portraying people’s survival in the midst of suffering and despair.

About the Artist
Year of Birth: 1881–1936 
Place of Birth: Shaoxing, China 
Based: Sendai, Beijing, Shanghai, and others 

Dialogue with the Mirror

There is a curious passage in LU Xun’s collection of poems Wild Grass.
“From my backyard, I can see two trees outside the fence. One is a date tree. The other is also
a date tree.” *
Why did LU Xun write in this way instead of “there are two date trees”? It is as if one thing
is separated into two and they are facing each other. I wonder if that is what he was thinking.
A work of art is a mental self-portrait of the artist. It reflects the artist’s image like a mirror. At the same time, however, once created, a work of art appears before the artist as an independent entity.
One artist enters history, another transforms oneself into a machine. Through these
actions, the artists look into their souls and search for secret passages to know themselves. The techniques used are observation, sketching, exaggeration, imagination, analogy, displacement, and symbolization. Thus, there arises a split situation in which the self-created “self ” of the work is at the same time a strange “other.”
To interact with one’s reflection in the mirror. This is to know oneself deeply and at the same time to create a new self that has not yet been seen.
*LU Xun, translated by TAKEUCHI Yoshimi, Wild Grass, Iwanami Bunko, 1980

Artist: Özgür KAR
Title: Fallen Tree

Eight channel 4K video (b/w, sound, 5min.), eight 75 inch screens, media players, cables, custom metal structure
Collection of the Artist

Özgür Kar creates black-and-white animation work using multiple monitors. His flat animations with limited motion portray the transience of life and our sufferings and sorrows. In this work, three screens, each consisting of two monitors connected vertically, project images of giant skeletons. The two skeletons on either side play music on instruments made of bones. Meanwhile, the skeleton in the center continues to hum like a minstrel about the wavering emotions in the face of nature’s vicissitudes. The feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and anticipation nevertheless, seem to mirror our own struggles in life as we search for the exit that is not yet in sight.

About the Artist
Year of Birth: 1992-
Place of Birth: Ankara, Turkey
Based: Amsterdam

My Liberation

This chapter is divided between Gallery 2 and Gallery 5. The title comes from the Japanese artist TOMIYAMA Taeko’s autobiographical essay My Liberation: Journey to the Frontier and the Bottom(1972).
Gallery 2 presents a video installation by Vienna-based artist NIWA Yoshinori and a new work, 宿舍 Ký Túc Xá/ Dorm(2023/2024)by Your Bros. Filmmaking Group, a collective based in Tainan, Taiwan.
NIWA’s works attempt to expose the essence of the logic of capitalism by exaggerating
or blurring it. By confronting NIWA’s works, we realize that we, too, have been successfully incorporated into the mechanisms that make the market economy run. The relationship between the individual and the state is also based on the premise of protecting the order and interests of the state. How can we free ourselves from this?
Your Bros. Filmmaking Group’s work was inspired by the events of 2018, when more than 100 Vietnamese women workers went on strike in a dormitory in New Taipei City. News of this strike was spread around the world via the Internet. The work was created through many workshops and collaborations with people from different walks of life.

Artist: Your Bros. Filmmaking Group (SO Yo-Hen, LIAO Hsiu-Hui, TIEN Zong-Yuan)
Title: 宿舍 Ký Túc Xá/ Dorm

Video “Dome” (4K, MOV), video (broadcast version of the movie/4K or Full HD resolution, MP4), still (digital giclee print), poster (digital giclee print), ten project videos (Full HD, 12min.-32min.), scripts, movie props, assembled bunk bed, mattresses, cardboard machine sculptures, slogan paintings, theater costumes, folding tables, light, table lamps, extension cords, photo album, installation manual, work guarantee card
Courtesy of the Artists

In 2018, Vietnamese women working at a factory in Taiwan began a strike by locking themselves up in their dormitory to demand better treatment. The event was live-streamed via Facebook. The video, which was mostly left on stream, showed snippets of the women’s ordinary lives aside from the strike, as they joked around or showed signs of boredom at times. Seeing how the very site of the strike began to function like an everyday gathering place inspired Your Brothers Film Making Group to create this work. They called upon immigrants and foreigners who had become spouses of Taiwanese people and held workshops to re-enact the strike in a set assembled from bunk beds. You are welcome to sit on the bed, watch the video, chat with someone, and spend your time as you wish.

About the Artist
Formed: 2017
Based: Tainan, Taiwan

Fires in the Woods

Artist: Ryuichi SAKAMOTO
Title: Violin used at the performance, Special Tribute Live for Nam June Paik farewell,njp organized by the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art
An homage to “One for Violin (Solo)”

Ryuichi Sakamoto

In 2006, Sakamoto appeared in a memorial event for Nam June Paik, the South Korean artist hailed as the father of video art. At the event, Sakamoto smashed a violin and dragged its wreckage on stage. This performance, based on Paik’s 1965 act of dragging his violin along the beach, was a tribute to the destructive spirit Paik embraced. Sakamoto, who familiarized himself with music at an early age, was influenced by Western avant-garde music, but also took a keen interest in the traditional music of Okinawa, Asia, and Africa, and created a variety of sounds that transcended genres. He also actively spoke out on social issues and political situations from early on, and engaged in a wide range of expressive activities throughout his life.

About the Artist
Year of Birth: 1952-2023
Place of Birth: Tokyo
Based: Tokyo and New York

All the Rivers

The title of this chapter, which spans the former Yokohama branch of Daiichi Bank and BankART KAIKO, is taken from a novel All the Rivers(2014)by Israeli writer Dorit RABINYAN. The love story of two people, one from Israel and the other from Palestine, shows us how public events can affect individual lives.
What we present in the former Daiichi Bank are the activities of people running cafes, second-hand clothing stores, low-cost lodging, printing shops, and radio stations that have been gaining momentum in East Asia over the past 20 years or so. Posting ideals such as “autonomy,” “mutual aid,” and “anti-consumerism,” they are trying to create spaces that are outside the reach of capitalist logic and the dominant social order, and to bring about social change in their daily lives. They also take to the streets to unite people and create new communities.
In addition, BankART KAIKO, across the street, introduces activities by people who have been trying to counter the worldwide movement in a direction prioritizing economies and neglecting the weak and disempowered since the 1990s with the end of the Cold War.
These practices call upon us to connect through our imagination and to bring revolutionary action into our daily lives, rather than simply waiting for a revolution to happen.

Artist: Puck VERKADE
Title: Uprooted

HD video (color, sound, 6min. 30sec.), honeycomb board, water based paint

Climate change and environmental destruction are serious issues that affect the future and survival of human beings. Not only is the natural world beyond our control, but we ourselves are creating a natural environment that seems unsuitable for us. The clue to human survival then, should lie not in altering nature, but rather in emulating it. In this new installation, the artist Puck Verkade focuses on the nature of plants——how various species coexist on the same soil, flexibly change their forms, and live in codependency. Like so, if we can accept the ever-changing world and break free from our rigid ways of thinking and old-fashioned social structures, perhaps that is when the humanoid protagonist in this video will find a safe haven for the first time. 

About the Artist
Year of Birth: 1987- 
Place of Birth: Den Haag 
Based: Berlin

All the Rivers

The title of this chapter, which spans two venues, BankART KAIKO and the former Yokohama branch of Daiichi Bank, is taken from a novel All the Rivers(2014)by Israeli writer Dorit RABINYAN. The love story of two people, one from Israel and the other from Palestine, shows us how public events can affect individual lives.
BankART KAIKO introduces the activities of people who have been trying to counteract the world’s capitalization since the 1990s with the end of the Cold War.
They create new social relations within a small space, and try to forge ties between these spaces that transcend differences in nationality, race, religion, and language. This brings to mind the way many small streams merge to form a large river.
In the background of this movement, we can see the attempts of thinkers such as Jacques DERRIDA and KARATANI Kojin to find a path that goes beyond capitalism by re-reading the writings of Karl MARX, the father of socialism.
Across the street at the former Daiichi Bank branch, visitors will be introduced to the activities of people who run cafes, second-hand clothing stores, lodging, and printing shops, and expand their networks in East Asia under the principles of “autonomy,” “mutual aid,” and “anti- consumerism.”

Artist: Clément COGITORE
Title: Braguino

HD video (color, sound, 48min.)
Courtesy of the artist and Chantal Crousel Consulting – Paris, Galerie Elisabeth and Reinhard Hauff – Stuttgart Production:Seppia, YLE, Arte

The Braguine family lives in eastern Siberia, in the taiga, or the boreal coniferous forest region. They live a self-sufficient lifestyle away from the city. Although their daily life is surrounded by beautiful nature, it is far from peaceful. The family has long been at odds with the Kiline family, who live on the other side of the river, arguing over the distribution of land and resources. They were supposed to have escaped from the capitalist world to start a new way of life but ironically, an even more intense desire for possession and hatred for each other have surfaced. The only point of contact between the two families is a small island in the middle of the river where the children play. The children are torn between their curiosity for each other and the hatred they have been taught by their parents. Can this next generation find another set of rules in order to live together in harmony?

About the Artist
Year of Birth: 1983-
Place of Birth: Colmar, France
Based: Paris