April 27, 1997

Desire and the Void. Contemporary Japanese Art and Photography at Kunsthalle Wien Museumsquartier, Vienna

Desire and the Void. Contemporary Japanese Art and Photography
Kunsthalle Wien Museumsquartier
25 April - 20 July 1997

Pictures of large cities, streets, commotion, noise, and permanent movement alternate with timeless views of vast water surfaces, close-up views of the skin, petrified, ageless human beings, standing in empty halls of abandoned Japanese baths. These pictures show female nudes, who are tied up, brilliant flowers, sensuality, eroticism, lust. Desire and emptiness, ecstasy and contemplation, the quick pace of the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and meditation are characteristic pairs of opposites found in contemporary Japanese culture and in their reflection through artistic photography.

In twelve series of works accomplished by leading Japanese artists/photographers, the contradictory positions encountered in the exhibition are brought into an equilibrium by polarizing confrontations. The show also attempts to eliminate existing stereotypes of, and prejudices against, Japan (ranging from the regret over the loss of Japanese identity and of the exotic in general to the criticism of the Japanese tendency to copy Western culture), thereby opening our eyes to Japan's art and, hence, Japanese society of the 1990s.

After the exhibition "Japanese Art of the 1990s" (Frankfurt/Bregenz/Vienna 1990/91), which was organized by Peter Weiermair, the curator of this exhibition, and Fumio Nanjo, "Desire and Void" is the first comprehensive show of Japanese contemporary art which takes into account the remarkable achievements of Japanese artists, particularly in the field of photography, in the past few years - both in a formal and technical sense (regarding the variety of the techniques employed) and as far as topics and contents are concerned.

When using photography as a means of creative expression, Japanese artists, unlike their Western counterparts, tend to deal with the issues of postmodern civilization with mirth and detachment, engaging in a discourse on images and media.

Participating artists: Nobuyoshi Araki, Naoya Hatakeyama, Noritoshi Hirakawa, Miyako Ishiucchi, Osamu Kanemura, Mariko Mori, Yasumasa Morimura, Sakiko Nomura, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Manabu Yamanaka, Miwa Yanagi, Toshihiro Yashiro.

Kunsthalle Wien Museumsquartier
Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna

Updated 03.07.2019