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
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.).
1. The first comprehensive exhibition of AKI INOMATA’s works in Japan
INOMATA has presented her works in numerous exhibits so far including KENPOKU ART 2016 and the Asian Art Award 2018, however this occasion marks her first large-scale exhibition to simultaneously introduces 6 projects.
2. Live hermit crabs in the exhibition!
Hermit crabs that serve as key collaborators in INOMATA’s practice will be on live display in the exhibition at Towada Art Center. Visitors may have the chance to witness the actual hermit crabs moving into “shelters” (3D-printed shells) made by INOMATA with their very own eyes. As it is usually difficult to display living creatures inside the museum, this exhibition is a rare and valuable opportunity.
※The installation and operation of the living exhibits are carried out with the advice of specialists and research institutions.
3. Debut of the new work Galloping Nambu breed horse
INOMATA produced a new work during her stay in Towada inspired by the Nambu breed of horse that had formerly been bred in the region where Towada is located. This exhibition marks the inaugural unveiling of this work.
1. Brand New Installation
The artist will implement an unprecedented methodology to the exhibition space to form a new installation in pursuit of her image of what she calls an “eternal movement.”
2. Mohri’s Debut of a Large-Scale Sculpture in Japan
Her large-scale, sound-based assemblage will be shown in Japan for the first time.
3. Witness Mohri’s Art in Practice
In addition to her improvised installation, video, and print works, she will go beyond the museum to exhibit in downtown Towada. Viewers can experience the artist’s thought process as they navigate not only the exhibition spaces but also the city streets.
1. New Works
Large scale installations with translucent fabric, a style representative of Suh. The exhibition offers an art appreciation experience with a sense of immersion.
2. Japanese Debut of the Film My Home/s
The film My Home/s will be shown for the first time in Japan. The film provides a view into the life of an artist who splits his time between the contrasting cultures of London, New York, and Seoul.
3. Resonating with Cause and Effect (2008, Towada Art Center Permanent Collection)
Cause and Effect, which was produced around the themes of individuals and society, can be seen in a new light as it resonates with Suh’s other works.
The Mondriaan Fund is the public fund for visual art and cultural heritage. All grant opportunities and activities are clustered in seven platforms, ranging from talent development to international presentations.