Collaboration and Community-Building in Contemporary Art in Japan and Denmark – University of Copenhagen

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Collaboration and Community-Building in Contemporary Art in Japan and Denmark

After the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear incidents in the North-Eastern Japan in 2011, many contemporary artists and scholars have focused on the role of art in connection to the recovery and rebuilding of local communities.

Other elements of precarious societies, such as depopulation in rural areas and decline of the Japanese population, have triggered the emergence of chiiki aato (regional art) and various types of socially-engaged art projects in Japan.

Artists are seeking new ways of creating art that are based on collaboration with non-artist local population or communities, as well as new forms of art-based education for both children and adults.

Although not political in a direct manner, many of such new art projects pay attention to social interaction and provide means to formulate alternative lifestyles and values. Thus, socially-engaged art projects in Japan offer ways to imagine a transformation toward other societal models, which are less inclined towards neo-liberal globalization and commercialism, and focus instead on sharing and altruism.

The "social turn" in contemporary art is not limited to Japan, but has been a significant trend on the international art scene since the 1990s. In Denmark too, many artists engage in collective and community-based art projects, and scholars and critics discuss the theoretical and methodological implications of new socially-engaged art forms.

Many artists in Japan, Denmark and other places in the world find meaningful output for their artistic practice by creating art projects that engage with local communities and cross societal boundaries as a means to provide visions for future societies.

About the seminar

The seminar will include scholars, critics and artists that have knowledge about or experience with collaborative and community-based art practice in Japan, Denmark, and other places.

Professor Mōri Yoshitaka from Tokyo University of the Arts is the keynote speaker. With a background in sociology, Professor Mōri is an expert in new media art forms as well as political and activist art movements in the Post-bubble Japanese society.

Experts from the Danish context will present their research and experience within the context of community-building art practices in Japan and Denmark. Contributions will include presentations of art projects and artistic practices, as well as theoretical and methodological perspectives of research and knowledge production in the field of collaboration and community-based art.

Some questions to be discussed

What motivates artists to use collaboration as an aesthetic or social tool? How can collaboration be a reactive tool to prevent exclusion? What kind of knowledge can emerge from artistic practices about transnational collaboration and community building?

If socially-engaged art projects are historical or site specific or based on local communities, how is it possible to transmit experience and knowledge from one geographical or cultural context to another? What are the potentials for scholarly, curatorial and artistic exchange between Japan and Denmark?


November 4

10:00 - 10:30  Welcome and introduction
                         Gunhild Borggreen, University of Copenhagen
                         JSPS Presentation

10:30 - 12:00  Currents in Contemporary Japan
                         Keynote: What Can Art Do after a Catastrophe? The Great East Japan
                         Earthquake and New Forms of Contemporary Art in Japan
                          Mōri Yoshitaka, Professor at Tokyo University of the Arts

                         Sowing seeds in the desert: artful farming and the undoing of
                          Line Marie Thorsen, Ph.D fellow at Aarhus University


12:00 - 13:30  Lunch

13:30 - 15:30  Artists’ collaborations

                         Changing the Meeting
                         Rikke Luther, artist and Ph.D fellow at Royal Danish Art Academy and
                         University of Copenhagen

                         Making Land
                         Georg Jagunov, Jacob Remin, Lars Kynde, Toshie Takeuchi


15:30 - 17:00


Sunday, November 5

10:00 - 10:30  Welcome back - about JSPS experience in Japan
                         JSPS fellows Jacob Kreutzfeldt and Gunhild Borggreen

10:30 - 12:00  Perspectives on Transnational Collaboration

                         The Sociopoetics of Disappearance
                         Peter van der Mejden, Postdoc at the University of Copenhagen

                         Title TBA
                         Miryam Sas, Professor at University of California, Berkeley

                         Infrastructure as Collective Production
                         Signe Meisner Christensen, Postdoc at Zürcher Hochschule der Künste
                         and Aalborg Universitet


12:00 - 13:30  Lunch

13:30 - 15:30  Film session
                         Short introduction by Mōri Yoshitaka
                         Screening of Iki no ato (Trace of Breath), 2016. Director: Komori


15:30 - 16:00  Summing up and good-bye


Practical information

The seminar is free and includes lunch and refreshments both days.

Registration is mandatory since the number of seats is limited.

Please sign up sending an e-mail to Gunhild Borggreen before October 27.

Please contact Gunhild Borggreen, Associate Professor at Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, for further information.