Jan 25th, 2020 - Apr 5th
This group exhibition featured three animation artists-Hirano Ryo, nuQ, and Saigo no Shudan-active across multiple genres. The trio explored the so-called “power spots” of Lake Towada and the Oirase Gorge and, inspired by the spirituality of the area, transformed the exhibition space into a healing spring. Screenings of new animations were supplemented with installations composed of paintings, sculptures, and other objects. in a show that presented the unique worldview of these three artists.
Message from Guest Curator Nobuaki Doi
Healing Spring is the inaugural edition of HIBERNATION, a film and moving image festival that highlights the latest in independent animation. The festival will feature exhibitions and screenings by three artists who are all active across multiple genres, in particular the animation of Ryo Hirano, nuQ, and Saigo no Shudan.
These three artists are contemporaries of each other and all share a similar style. They use familiar motifs that are rooted in our everyday lives as well as various designs that give their work a retro and nostalgic feel. Their works are populated with something that transcends the scale of modern thought, and into these everyday perceptions are thrust the complications of space-time, such as the future and the supernatural (yokai and UFOs), the spiritual and the ancient. They allow us to experience, be overwhelmed by, and ultimately rejoice in their works.
This group exhibition, the first to feature these three artists since POWER SPOT, held in Shibuya in 2015, has been inspired by the spiritual aspects of the area discovered by the artists through research done in Towada, which has culminated in a collaborative transformation of the exhibition space. Because this is a group exhibition, it will be an opportunity for a new set of values to be created by combining the powers of each of these artists. And actually, the city of Towada itself was created through the merger of several municipalities (powers), just as Lake Towada and its surrounding nature was formed by the coming together of multiple natural phenomena (powers), including volcanic eruption. The museum, as a venue, is also a place that summons values and power that are separate from everyday life. To take in that power, people from around the world come to visit the museum, which in turn creates more power.
The positive effects and new values that can be realized through the combining of multiple powers must be achieved in this exhibition. To achieve this, we will go beyond animation and aim to create an enchanting space where guests will be able to receive various powers by supplementing screenings with paintings, sculptures, and other objects. The three artists are also working together to create a new “monument” for the exhibition. Overall, by creating a hot spring-like space that connects the indigenous, the universal, and the spiritual, we aim to harness the power of museum guests to transform it into a “healing spring”—and yes, the existence of Lake Towada was certainly a great inspiration.
During this period, when animals and plants sleep away the time until spring comes, this exhibition will use the combined power of these three artists to accumulate a store of power that will be able to create a new world here in Towada. We hope you will immerse yourself in this spring of healing as we move forward into a new season of renewal.
Top image designed by Saigo no Shudan, illustrations by Ryo Hirano, nuQ, and Saigo no Shudan
Manga artist and illustrator of animated short films. Born in 1988 in Kasukabe, Saitama Prefecture, Ryo Hirano is a graduate of the Tama Art University Department of Information Design. He is currently part of animation studio FOGHORN. From cultural anthropology and folklore to subculture, Hirano continues to create works whose motifs are guided by his own eager touch. His music video for the song “Hietsuki-Bushi” by artist Omodaka received the Japan Media Arts Festival’s New Face Award in 2011. His animated short film Holiday received the Campus Genius Contest Grand Prix award. He has participated in film festivals around the world, including Denmark, Ottawa, San Francisco, and Annecy. He has also worked on a number of theatre visuals for Grand Guignol Mirai, Lolo, and Suguru Yamamoto, among others.
Official Website: http://ryohirano.com/
Message from the Artist
It is an absolute honor to work together on Healing Spring with nuQ and Saigo no Shudan, both of whom I deeply respect and trust.
Come and witness the beautiful chaos that will bubble up and out into the world! Welcome to the Healing Spring!
photo by Takuya Shima
nuQ is a Japanese artist and animator. Her final animation project for her master’s degree, New Tokyo Ondo, won the Gold Campus Genius Award at the 18th Campus Genius Contest and was a Jury Selection at the 16th Japan Media Arts Festival in 2012. The film continues to be screened frequently in Japan and abroad.
In addition to holding solo exhibitions at galleries such as pixiv Zingaro and Tetoka, she has also worked with a wide range of clients on commercials, music videos, and other illustration projects.
Official Website: http://nuq.o.oo7.jp
Message from the Artist
There is a legend about this spring. They say that in the middle of the night when everyone is sleeping, the calm surface of the spring becomes a mirror and can be walked upon. Those who walk upon it are able to meet an all-knowing spirit. Will they be able to choose what is most important, from the hopes and dreams of the many that the spirit holds in its thousand hands? Precious feelings and secrets shine all at once, reflecting on the total darkness of the spring. I want to create a work that awakens the deepest wishes that lie in wait inside of us all.
A video team consisting of Ayumu ARISAKA, oitama, and Ren KOHATA, whose work is meant to remind people of primeval, ancient memories. They formed in 2010. Their video works have an organic quality to them, created by combining hand-drawn animations with time-lapse animations made using live actors and props.
Official Website: https://www.saigono.info
Message from the Artist
The magic of animation extends beyond the screen to fill the exhibition space. We hope that you will enjoy the unique flavor of magic that has been extracted from the chemistry between these three exhibiting artists.
Towada Art Center
9:00–17:00 (Last admission 30 minutes before closing)
except for National Holidays, in which case the museum is open on the holiday and closed the following Tuesday
Exhibition + Permanent Collection: 1,200 yen
Exhibition only: 800 yen
100 yen/ticket discount for groups of 20 or more
High school students and younger: Free
The To-o Nippo Press, The Daily-Tohoku Shimbun Inc., Aomori Broadcasting Cooperation, Aomori Television Broadcasting Co., Ltd., Asahi Broadcasting Aomori Co., Ltd., & Towada City Board of Education
Nobuaki Doi (CEO, New Deer, Inc. / Director, New Chitose International Animation Festival)
We are currently preparing for our next project.
1. Japan’s leading animation artists brought together in a single exhibition
Ryo Hirano is known for his manga FANTASTIC WORLD and in recent years has also begun working as an actor. NuQ has produced music videos for artists such as Chatmonchy and Wednesday Campanella, and her manga and illustrations are also popular for their unique worldview. Saigo no Shudan have developed a profound world that connects the ancient past with the present through their fusion of manga and anime together with numerous music videos and sculptural works. Each of these artists are animators who have drawn attention for their unique multimedia approach.
2. Exhibiting artists transform the exhibition space into the Healing Spring
HIBERNATION is more than just an animated film festival. The three participating artists have worked together to create a unique worldview and, based on a single theme, have brought together works both new and old, animation and beyond, to transform the exhibition space into a world unto itself. Based on their research in Towada and the surrounding area, they have transformed the exhibition space into a healing spring.
3. New collaborative work inspired by research done in Towada
All three exhibiting artists visited Towada in August 2019. They explored Lake Towada, Oirase Gorge, and the city Towada in addition to other so-called ‘power spots’ like the pyramid in the nearby village of Shingo. Inspired by the spirituality they found in Towada, the artists have collaborated on a new video installation that will be shown as part of HIBERNATION 1.
Nobuaki Doi is a researcher and critic of animation as well as a multi-faceted producer. He is the president and CEO of New Deer, Inc., and serves as festival director of the New Chitose International Animation Festival. In addition to conducting theoretical and historical research and publishing writings on the animation of Yuri Norstein, Doi also plans and organizes events that introduce foreign animated films to Japanese audiences. He has worked with many international film festivals and is the main curator of the Japan feature at the Fantoche International Animation Film Festival. As a curator, he worked with Yoshihiko Taniguchi and the NTT Intercommunication Center [ICC] on In a Gamescape: Landscape, Reality, Storytelling and Identity in Video Games. He has authored several books, including Personal Harmony: Yuri Norstein and the Aesthetics of Contemporary Animation and An Introduction to Animation in the 21st Century (both published by Film Art, Inc.).