Janne Robberstad

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Naoshima

By spotogspindel | October 14, 2016

Naoshima – the little art island of Japan. Recommended by Tanja Beer, the pioneer of eco-scenography. And when I come, I land in the middle of an art-festival! The Setouchi Triennale. As you can see on the map below, it includes some island-hopping to reach over everything. But I´vé stayed here in Naoshima for two days now, and it´s been lovely! So much to see, so much to ponder over.

Originally this art-project started 20 years ago. So many young people moved away from the smaller places to go to the cities, and they didn´t come back. So as a counterweight, the Benesse Group hose Naoshima as their main art-site for the biggest on-site art project in Japan.

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The island is relatively small, you can walk across in 45 minutes or so. And theres been a lot of walking. The different art-sites are spread out over the whole island.

Unfortunately, many of the places I´ve seen these days, were no photos allowed. But you know you´re in the right place when you see a big, yellow polka-dotted Yayoi Kusama pumpkin on the quay.

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The first I came across was the Art House Project. Abandoned houses were “given” to artists to “artyfy” them. The very first house I came to used to belong to a dentist. The artist spoke directly to my heart, I think, with his blue room. Two stories high, with only natural light. The walls were covered in indigo-dyed fabric, with oil-painting on them.(Indigo was the color they used to dye the fishermen’s clothes with) Against one wall there was part of an old wooden boat.

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I adored this room! You could put a couple of actors in here, and you have the complete set and atmosphere in place. There was another room, small but two stories where there was a replica of the Statue of Liberty looking out the window of the second floor!

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Another of the Art House Projects was this newly built replica of a Shinto shrine. Under the shrine was a very narrow underground tunnel, which you entered with flashlights. At the bottom, there was a cave, and at the bottom was a little pool of water. From the water, a staircase rose towards the ceiling, the steps made of big glass-blocks. Outside and overground, the steps continued all the way up to the front of the shrine. So beautiful!

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There were 7 Art Houses, each one unique.

The Benesse House is a combined gallery/museum and hotel. Tourists can of course visit the exhibitions, but only guests at the hotel can see the art inside the hotel. Everything is designed by architect Tadao Ando. Almost every surface was in clean, polished concrete, raw, with traces of the supporting scaffolding. But with edges so sharp, and angles unheard of! The wall in the photo below is four stories high, the bottom is a triangle filled with white rocks. The black slit in the wall is not a shadow, it´s an open-air window moving along the hallway from the first floor upwards. I´ve never been much for minimalism. But this was taken to a completely new level, and it was awesome! Of all the exhibitions these days at Benesse House, Li Ufan and Chicu Museum today, and trust me, they were GOOD!, I think the one favorite thing was actually Ando´s architecture.

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I am still dwelling on so many of the works I´ve seen today. I feel they linger on. Just like good art should do!

And then, in between all this grand art, you walk past an open door and get a peak at the garden inside. And then you realize why there are so many Japanese visitors at these art galleries, they have a genuine interest in art and esthetics. The minimalism is part of their tradition, the attention to detail… such beauty! Who would´t want a Japanese garden?!

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I just have to share this too, from the garden outside another temple.

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And on the beach, a Shinto-gate, filled with little rocks people had put on there together with a wish.

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And finally. After all this grand art, what else to top it off with than a 007-museum?!! One of Ian Flemmings books about James Bond was placed on Naoshima, and there´s been an active attempt to get Bond-film-makers, to film this book here, where it was placed in the first place. Not serious art at all, but what enthusiasm 😀

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Topics: Art, inspiration, travel | No Comments »

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