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setouchi art triennale 2013

After its inaugural edition in 2010, the second Setouchi Art Triennale continues to build on its unique formula: a breathtaking location in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan and a festival that emphasizes its roots in the local island communities while offering works by a diverse roster of Japanese and international artists.

Enlarging its scale, Art Setouchi 2013 spreads across three seasonal sessions - spring, summer and autumn - and adds a number of new locations on islands further west. Most of these will open in summer or autumn.

Setouchi Art Triennale 2013 - 1

A sizable number of the artworks from 2010 have been given a permanent place on the islands, which for returning visitors means that not all islands have as many new artworks on offer. However, these permanent works include some favorites that are well worth revisiting, like 'Sea Vine'.

Naoshima in particular, the island where the revitalization efforts of the region started, seems to be reaching a saturation point. But the Chichu Art Museum and the Art House Project, notably 'Backside of the Moon' and 'Sea of Time', are still touchstones for the quality of the festival works, as well as a model for blending art, architecture and landscape.

Setouchi Art Triennale 2013 - 2

On the other islands, the variety of genres, styles and cultural backgrounds continues to create inspiring encounters, even if the palette of themes - the sea, the islands, the village houses, the local stories - can start to feel limiting at times. This poses an interesting challenge for future development of the festival: how to keep a strong link with the region's tradition without hindering more radical ideas for the future? The islands' dwindling population makes this question all the more urgent. As this article wonders: "can art really save these islands?"

Well, it may yet... Here are a few of this year's highlights, from the islands of Shodoshima, Megijima and Ogijima.

Setouchi Art Triennale 2013 - The Light of Shodoshima - Wang Wen Chih - 1

Setouchi Art Triennale 2013 - The Light of Shodoshima - Wang Wen Chih - 2

Setouchi Art Triennale 2013 - The Light of Shodoshima - Wang Wen Chih - 3

With 'The Light of Shodoshima' Wang Wen Chih built a large bamboo pavilion that makes both a very pleasant sun-dappled space inside and a spectacular structure in the valley.

Setouchi Art Triennale 2013 - Shodoshima Soy Sauce Wall - 1

Setouchi Art Triennale 2013 - Shodoshima Soy Sauce Wall - 2

Setouchi Art Triennale 2013 - Shodoshima Soy Sauce Wall - 3

The Shodoshima community art project visualized the island's trademark product, soy sauce, in a multicolored wall made up of tiny bottles - with impressive effect.

The paintings by Akira Kamo, especially his abstractions of snow-covered mountain slopes, also need to be mentioned. Unfortunately very little of his work appears online.

Setouchi Art Triennale 2013 - Snail Time - Philipp Artus - 1

Setouchi Art Triennale 2013 - Snail Time - Philipp Artus - 2

While not made for the festival, Philipp Artus' audiovisual installation 'Snail Trail' has a fitting exhibition location in the caves on Megijima, with the audio reverberating spookily through the underground spaces.

Setouchi Art Triennale 2013 - Houses for Light - Arthur Huang - 1

Setouchi Art Triennale 2013 - Houses for Light - Arthur Huang - 2

On Ogijima, Arthur Huang's 'Houses for Light' involve a number of miniature lighthouse villages, each with its own sea view and corresponding change of perspective. (The artist also kept an extensive making-of blog.)

Setouchi Art Triennale 2013 - Walking Ark - Keisuke Yamaguchi

On the other side of the island, Keisuke Yamaguchi's humorous 'Walking Ark' adds a new landmark to the island's growing collection of open air sculpture.

Another work on Ogijima that proved hard to capture on camera is 'Water Mirror' by Sayaka Ishizuka, which delicately evokes a surface of water with collections of objects floating in it.

Needless to say, there's plenty more to explore at Setouchi, on other islands and in other seasons...

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setouchi international art festival

A bit like a fractal image, the archipelago of Japan contains the Seto Inland Sea , located between the main islands of Honshū, Shikoku and Kyūshū, which in turn contains an archipelago of small islands. On seven of these islands, the S… Read the full post »

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