Arts Towada 10th Anniversary Exhibition:
Inter+Play Season 1

Connecting people with the city through art that plays, performs, and resonates

Inter+Play is a three-part exhibition that celebrates the tenth anniversary of Arts Towada, the city-wide initiative that promotes art throughout the city of Towada and along its main thoroughfare of Kanchogai Avenue.

Since its inception, Arts Towada has been a wellspring of creativity and a source of inspiration. At its heart is the Towada Art Center, which has always considered the “interplay” between artwork, audience, and city. This exhibition is a manifestation of the ethos behind this ambitious project.

On display throughout the entirety of the exhibition is a large-scale outdoor sculpture and bench by Suzuki Yasuhiro, who uses familiar objects to create works that excite the senses. The bench is shaped like the city of Towada, whose gravitational pull ripples across the bench and makes waves beyond the city. Also on display is a stark-white gallery space in a building in downtown Towada, created by art collective 目 [mé], whose works have attracted much attention at art festivals and large-scale solo exhibitions in recent years.

Highlights inside the museum will include works by artists TSUDA Michiko, evala, and Matsubara Megumi at the Towada Art Center. Tsuda’s installation will use mirrors, video cameras, and projectors to confound the senses, while those who experience evala’s work will be immersed in a sea of sound. Matsubara will present a brand-new work based on the color red, developed through research conducted during her stay in Towada.

The exhibition period will also see Mondai Kodo Trio perform music and dance in the exhibition gallery.

Year-long Exhibits:
– Suzuki Yasuhiro [exhibited in front of the Towada Art Center]
– 目 [mé] [exhibited in the city of Towada]

Part 1 Artists:
– Tsuda Michiko
– evala
– Matsubara Megumi

– Problem Behaviour Trio (Nomura Makoto, Sakuma Shin & Jareo Osamiu
[Scheduled to be held once during each part of the exhibition]

*Tickets to view evala’s Anechoic Sphere ー Haze are distributed on a first-come-first-serve basis. Only a limited number of visitors will be able to view the artwork due to the capacity of the gallery. Thank you for your understanding.

*Image: MATSUBARA Megumi, Truth/Freedom, Inter+Play: Arts Towada 10th Anniversary Exhibition (Towada Art Center, Aomori, 2020)
Photo: Oyamada Kuniya

Towada Art Center Welcomes Tomás Saraceno: World-Renowned Large-Scale Installation Artist in Permanent Collection

“Inter+Play” is Towada Art Center’s ongoing three-part exhibition to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Arts Towada, a city-wide initiative that promotes art throughout the city along its main thoroughfare Kanchogai Avenue. The second season will take place from October 1, 2021 to January 10, 2022, and features the visionary artist Tomás Saraceno, whose work is part of the center’s permanent collection. Visitors will be invited into the floating and interconnected worlds of Aerocene and Arachnophilia, the artist’s transdisciplinary, open-source, community projects, calling for environmental justices and interspecies cohabitation through renewed relationships with the terrestrial, atmospheric and cosmic realms. Saraceno’s international and interdisciplinary practice challenges dominant ways of inhabiting and sensing the environment, continuously redefining the place of artistic production in the face of destructive habits, subjugated forms of knowledge, and unequal power relations. The artist’s solo exhibition will fill the entirety of the center’s gallery spaces, marking the largest display of his work ever held at a Japanese museum.

Jorōgumo, a Yōkai of Japanese mythology that exists in the liminal space between woman and spider, serves as one of our guides into the web of rhizomatic relations made visible in Saraceno’s exhibition. Featured in two of the artist’s three new Arachnomancy Cards, Jorōgumo blurs species boundaries and invites us to attune to a plane of radical interconnectedness, challenging hierarchical, patriarchal, and colonial power structures and celebrating what Marisol de la Cadena calls the “anthropo-not-seen”, those alternative forms of knowing and inhabiting the world that survive and subvert the homogenizing impulse of the Capitalocene, opening spaces for inter-species recognition. An extension of its cognitive system, the spider’s
web allows for communication with the greater world through vibration, mapping its consciousness along threads like the neural map of our own brain. The 33 cards that make the Arachnomancy deck draw on this extended cognition, transforming it into an instrument of mediation, one of the many ways to consult spider/web oracles, messengers between perceptual worlds, transcending the reciprocal blindness between life forms and inviting us to attune to our sympoietic futures. The oracle in the third Arachnomancy card created specifically for this exhibition is Argyroneta aquatica japonica, a Japanese subspecies of the water spider Argyroneta aquatica, featured in Saraceno’s short film Living at the bottom of the ocean of air, also on display at Towada Art Center. The unique behaviour of this spider reveals the capacity of certain species to transform their way of life to adapt to new environments, posing the question: Can the destructive logic of the Capitalocene be altered in response to climate change, zoonosis and species extinction caused by some humans?

The pandemic has made us more aware of our shared yet unequally experienced fragility, of the exposure inherent to breath. What is floating in the air today? What are we breathing in? And who has the possibility to breathe at all? Today, bad air quality kills a staggering 8.7 million people a year, three times more than the pandemic has in the same amount of time. Particulate matter floats in the air, much of which is the byproduct of human fossil fuel consumption. In Aerographies, the exhibition’s main room, Saraceno challenges business-as-usual approaches to environmental issues by envisioning a future free from borders and fossil fuels. The Aerocene Backpack, a portable flight starter kit enclosing an aerosolar sculpture that floats using only the sun and air and is always evolving through a collective and open process of construction, takes the center stage, inspiring us to rethink current ways of moving in and with the planet, towards Aerocene, an era where we can all live and breathe.

Throughout the exhibition, Tomás Saraceno’s collaborations with spiders and the atmosphere offer a moment of transcendence, celebrating forms of wisdom that subvert the hierarchical relationship through which some organize the world and inviting us to reattune to the web of coexistence as it manifests at Towada Art Center.

SUZUKI Yasuhiro’s Quantum Apples and art collective 目[mé]’s space from Season 1 will continue to be on display, and a performance by Problem Behaviour Trio is also scheduled during the exhibition.

Image: Tomás Saraceno, Arachnomancy Cards, 2019, Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno
Courtesy the artist and Arachnophilia

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

“Significant Otherness” was the first Japan solo exhibition for internationally renowned artist Inomata Aki. The exhibition title is a nod to science historian Donna Haraway and her proposal for a new form of human relationship with other species on earth. The exhibition showcased works such as Why Not Hand Over a “Shelter” to Hermit Crabs? , which finds her using a 3D printer to create city-like shells for hermit crabs. Through these interspecies collaborations, Inomata uses humor to question the realities of life on earth. Inomata’s works highlighted non-human perspectives and gave visitors a chance to reflect on the flow of time, the environment, and the ecosystems of earth.

This exhibition was held as part of the Where Is Chiiki? art project, which Towada Art Center has conducted since 2018. “Stranger Than Fiction” showcased-both inside and outside the museum-new works by three artists engaged in chiiki (community) art: Kitazawa Jun, Nadegata Instant Party, and Fuji Hiroshi, in an attempt to understand the diversity, challenges, and possibilities of these collaborations between artists and regional communities. The exhibition showed how these artists fill the community with the fibs and fabrications that are often tools of the trade in art, in order to create a reality that is stranger than fiction.

Mohri Yuko is an installation artist who recasts recon gured everyday items to reveal intangible forms of energy, such as electricity and magnetism. In this, her first solo exhibition at a museum, she presented a new largescale, sound-based assemblage inspired by movements such as spirals, spins, and swirls as seen on different scales, such as in ammonites and multistranded wires and cables. Her works were symbolic of the orbit of celestial bodies, and, at the same time, revealed aspects of large social movements. The exhibition also included video and silkscreen print works as well as an improvised installation at a venue in the city center, created on site.

Photo image:Installation view from If sealed up inside a grave, at least be as quiet as a grave for V.T.
2018, photo by Kuniya Oyamada

Exhibition Preview

Do Ho Suh, a world-renowned leader in Asian art, is also known for his 2008 work Cause and Effect , part of the permanent collection of Towada Art Center. This solo exhibition, held to commemorate Towada Art Center’s tenth anniversary, brought the latest of his signature fabric sculptures to the museum, as well as a video work that expresses his perspectives as he moves between homes in London, New York, and Seoul. These works raised fundamental questions concerning humanity and identity, questions that arise when transitioning between cultures.

Photo image:Hub, 310 Union Wharf, 23 Wenlock Road, London, N1 7ST, UK,
Photo by Taegsu Jeon
Courtesy the artist, Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong and Seoul and Victoria Miro, London/Venice (reference image)

Rafaël Rozendaal is a visual artist who uses the internet as his canvas and is widely known for his application of modern technology. At a time when the internet connects the entire world, his artwork is available to access at any time. “GENEROSITY,” the title of this exhibition, expresses the essence of the artist’s work, which he makes freely available to everyone everywhere. The exhibition was Rozendaal’s first solo exhibition at a public art institution and represented the rich variety of his work through large-scale animations, tapestries, and interactive programs.

※Main photo image : Much Better Than This, Times Square Midnight Moment, New York, 2015  Photography by Michael Wells

The “Hearts Towada Exhibition” showcased artists from around the world who had created artworks for the permanent collection at Towada Art Center. The exhibition aimed to provide assistance for areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and to deepen the connection between the museum and the community. Towada Art Center had opened three years prior with the goal of integrating art and community development. Looking back on what it had accomplished in that time, the museum asked what it could now do in response to the earthquake, and decided to do whatever it could, in its role as an institution that embodies creativity to encourage and enrich people’s lives. All proceeds from the exhibition, including the sale of selected artworks, were donated to affected areas to support relief efforts across Japan.

Yoko Ono has gained international recognition as one of Japan’s most significant artists and was one of the artists commissioned to produce work for Towada Art Center’s permanent collection. She defies traditional boundaries, expressing herself through a wide range of media including art, music, performance, and film. Ono’s works often call for audience participation, and reflect careful to consideration of the location of the exhibition and its social significance in the creative process, leaving a deep impression on those who view and/ or take part in the result. “Yoko Ono: En Trance” was Towada Art Center’s inaugural exhibition and featured ten of Ono’s works, including SKYLADDERS and Telephone Piece.

Not only is Towada known for its long history with horses, it is also home to high wildlife populations in places like Lake Towada and the Hakkoda Mountains, as well as in rural farming communities near the city. Animal motifs also feature prominently in the permanent collection at Towada Art Center. Coexistence between humans and animals is a dominant theme of the city of Towada and its natural surroundings, and this exhibition was designed to engage children through contemporary art using animal figures they know and love.

Wada Mitsuhiro is one of Towada’s leading photographers, having used his lens to capture lost landscapes and images of modern life in the city. Buildings and alleys that blend into the streetscape, festivals and traditions that tell the city’s history, the people who live their lives there amid deep snow in winter and lush vegetation in summer: “Memory of the City” features photographs Wada shot especially for this exhibition along with others from years past, many of which had long been in storage. This exhibition allowed visitors to rediscover Towada’s true charm, and served as a valuable bridge linking memories of the city with future generations.

Pine Trees of Towada showcases the artworks created for Vol. 5 of Art Channel Towada in September 2006. The artworks were made by citizens Towada on the wooden enclosure that surrounded the Towada Art Center during its construction. The exhibition will also feature original drawings by Shuji Yamamoto.

Choi Jeonghwa, whose work is featured in Towada Art Center’s permanent collection, is one of Korea’s most dynamic and accomplished contemporary artists, known for successful large-scale installations in locations such as the Seoul Olympic Stadium. Choi consistently conveys the message that arts and culture are open to everyone, not just an elite few. A ficelebration of the Towada Art Center’s first anniversary, “OK!” saw artwork extend beyond the four walls of the museum to sixteen locations around the city.

This photo exhibition highlighted Towada native Iwaki Noboru and his images of the forests, rivers, and peaks of the Hakkoda mountains across the four seasons. Throughout 2007 and 2008, Iwaki spent more than 100 days alone photographing the Hakkoda mountains, from the virgin forests and headwaters in the south of the range, to the harsh winter landscapes of its northern peaks. The exhibition featured large prints of sixty- five of those images, including thirteen that were selected for the 2009 Canon Calendar.

“SUMOAURA” was a contemporary art exhibition focusing on Japan’s national sport of sumo, a whole world of epic drama contained in a circle less than five meters across. With its roots in Shinto prayers for peace and good harvests, sumo has preserved to this day a style and tradition deeply engraved etched on Japanese spirit.
“SUMOAURA” was a chance for visitors to experience the beauty of sumo through contemporary art. The exhibition not only featured sumoinspired artworks and sculptures, but also large championship portraits otherwise only seen adorning the walls of sumo’s de facto home at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan Arena. Also on display were video installations that provided new insights into the world of sumo.

Origata is the ancient art of Japanese gift-wrapping in paper. The Origata Design Institute, which brings a contemporary feel to this formal art of folding, seeks to raise awareness of folding and make it a part of everyday life. In this exhibition, the Institute pushed the boundaries of traditional and modern, past and future, Eastern and Western, person and object based on data collected since it was first established in 2001, as well as Ise Sadatake’s classic Explanatory Illustrations of Folding and Tying . This exhibition showcased the new era of folding that is now emerging from the Origata Design Institute.

“LOVE LOVE SHOW” featured pairs of artists who used the whole exhibition space as a canvas to create installations around the theme of“encounters.” Participating artists included practitioners engaged in music, photography, manga, multimedia art, architecture, graphic design, and literature. This playful exhibition focused on what happens when an artwork encounters a space, and when visitors then encounter that space. Through these “encounters,” the exhibition was able to create new value as well as additional opportunities for expression. The two venues for “LOVE LOVE SHOW” were the Aomori Museum of Art and Towada Art Center, whose architecture and initiatives demonstrate what a museum can and should look like in the twenty- first century. This exhibition was also a rare “encounter” between the two museums and set a new precedent for future collaborations.

This special exhibition by Kusama Yayoi commemorated the grand opening of the Arts Towada initiative. Kusama and her paintings of ever-multiplying polka dots and nets first produced during her stay in New York in the 1960s gained her worldwide recognition, and she is currently one of the most notable Japanese contemporary artists of international standing. Her outdoor installation, Love Forever, Singing in Towada, is on permanent display in Towada Art Center’s Art Square. Kusama’s oeuvre has long extended across a wide variety of media including painting, sculpture, and installation, as well as novels and poetry. Displays of Kusama’s artworks not only in the museum but throughout the city for this exhibition immersed Towada in her vivacious and vibrant world.

This exhibition showcased the photography of Hosokawa Takeshi, who has been photographing the forests and rivers of Iwate Prefecture for more than thirty years. The pristine beech forests that spread across the Shirakami and Hakkoda mountain ranges of Aomori Prefecture are a precious natural resource where time passes slowly and eternally. Beyond Hakkoda lies a river that flows through the city of Towada, the same river of Oirase yet devoid of any scenic beauty. It is a river at the mercy of the nearby human inhabitants, who have altered the course of nature. This exhibition presented the museum with an opportunity to reconsider two completely different aspects of the natural world: forest and rivers.

Sugano Sakae liked to call his works drawings, even his sculptural and other three-dimensional works. His strong attachment to-and belief in-drawing goes back to childhood, informing each of his “drawings,” which function as a record of his life. Sagano’s extremely personal work is a far cry from obscure contemporary art, and serves to reaffirm the importance of intuition. Those viewing it will undoubtedly be confronted with the very nature of what it means when an artist says, “To draw is to live.” “Hello Everybody!” was both a retrospective as well as a new endeavor for Sugano.

Towadabito (People Living in Towada) focused on the people of the city, with works shown in both the exhibition space and along Towada’s main shopping street. The exhibition featured up-and-coming contemporary artist Shimizu Ryo, who exhibited in the 2010 Moscow International Biennale for Young Art. Opposing elements-publicly offered and privately requested works, the museum and its surrounding areas, artists and guests-interacted with one another to reconsider the relationships between the elements that make up Towada: urban and rural, public and private, elf and other.

“Yokohama→Towada” spotlighted Anzai Masaru, an illustrator living in Towada, whose illustrations have been featured in magazines, books, advertisements, TV commercials, and more since 1992. This exhibition showcased Anzai’s early paintings and other works in a visual rendering of his migration from Yokohama to Towada. Anzai himself occasionally visited a specially built studio space during the exhibition, giving visitors a chance to see his creative process in action.

Michael Lin is known for his large-scale work, Untitled , which was inspired by Towada’s traditional nanbu sakiori handicraft and is on permanent display in the Towada Art Center Cube. Lin has established a new form of pictorial expression: he draws on traditional Taiwanese textile patterns, which were originally motifs of industrial production, and changes their meaning by painting them enlarged in public spaces. “Mingling” was organized around the concept of a “Mingling Space” located in the city’s central shopping area that intrigued Lin during his stay in Towada. This exhibition showcased pieces of patchwork that Lin created together with the people of Towada and also expressed the warmhearted and peaceful creative synergy generated through various kinds of “mingling.”

Kato Kunio began to distinguish himself as an animator while studying at Tama Art University and has since garnered widespread acclaim for his detailed approach to animation, and unique worldview. This exhibition was divided into two parts, the first showcasing sketches and storyboards from Kato’s Oscar-winning La Maison en Petits Cubes (The House of Small Cubes) as well as original illustrations from his picture book of the same title. The second part meanwhile featured the premiere of Scenes, a new short film made especially for the exhibition, as well as other original illustrations from his more recent picture books. During the exhibition, Kato also worked in public at the museum, providing a unique opportunity to observe his characteristically calm, warm-hearted approach to the creative process.

Two eye-catching sculptures reside outside of Towada Art Center, nestled high up between two of the museum’s galleries. Flying Man and Hunter , one of the more curious pieces in the Towada Art Center’s permanent collection, is the work of Morikita Shin, whose latest works were on display in “Ever Present Figures,” his first solo exhibition at a museum. Morikita carefully examines a space and, with impeccable balance, presents simple paintings and sculptures that highlight the characteristics of different materials. A web of relationships hangs somewhere in the middle of the exhibition space, enveloping “Ever Present Figures” in a sense of poetic humor. In such uncertain and stifling times, this exhibition was an opportunity to pause for a moment and see oneself and one’s surroundings in a new light.

*Main image
stranger in blue
(Acrylic on cotton), 2017, 130cm x 80cm

“Towada Roman,” the second Yokoo Tadanori solo exhibition held in Aomori Prefecture, drew considerable attention for its eponymous new work, the latest in Yokoo’s signature Y-Junction series. The exhibition featured a live painting event and showcased Yokoo’s 39-piece series, Tama, Come Back, which included two new paintings of his beloved cat, Tama, as well as Lake Towada & Oirase (1973), which Yokoo produced while traveling around Japan at the beginning of the 1970s. Yokoo stickers and posters adorned an entire kilometer of Towada’s main shopping street, and the museum hosted workshops for participants to create original collages and mini-posters inspired by his work.

*Main Image: Poster for Tadanori Yokoo Towada Roman: Pop It All (2017)
Poster images from top: Asosan/Kusasenri (1974) and Lake Towada/Oirase (1973). Both artworks property of the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art.

Renowned artist and art collector, curator, and gallerist Murakami Takashi is a man of many faces. “Murakami Takashi’s Superflat Consideration on Contemporary Ceramics” showcased over 1,800 works by 28 artists, all collected by Murakami himself. From the chanoyu tea ceremony of Rikyu to the more recent mingei folk art movement of Yanagi Soetsu, and from the ceramics of swanky department store galleries to those of littleknown craft fairs, Murakami’s unique relationship with pottery was laid bare for the audience in a journey into the history of ceramics that uncovered the value of Japanese ceramics, and the current state of aesthetics. The exhibition was also an important one for Towada Art Center as a museum that strives to showcase contemporary art in a broader, more inclusive context that interprets contemporary crafts as significant examples of art.

*Main photo image: Mikiya Takimoto

Jurgen Lehl is celebrated for his eponymous line of products, which make the most of natural materials in original clothing, textile, and jewelry designs. Lehl made Japan his home in the early 1970s, and “On the Beach” showcased his lamps, created from pieces of plastic washed up on the shores near his Ishigakijima island home,, along with his photographs contrasting the beauty of the sea with its current polluted state. The exhibition also featured a special display by American photographer Chris Jordan, who has worked to document how ocean plastic is killing birds. “On the Beach” contained a message from the sea that urged us to return our focus to nature, the source of all human life.

According to the exhibition pamphlet, “The kotatsu (a quilt-covered low-frame table with a heating source placed underneath) is where all family members once gathered. […] “Atatteko! ” is an art project that everyone can enjoy-from children on winter holiday to farmers relaxing during the off season.” “Atatteko! ” focused on public participatory art production and workshops organized by a group of six artists. These activities, held throughout the exhibition, included the Dream Kotatsu project, in which participants created physical renderings of “Dream Kotatsu ” concepts submitted by museum visitors, and Sewers Wanted, where participants helped sew together pieces of cloth into one giant kotatsu quilt.

Higashikawa, located in the Kamikawa district of Hokkaido, declared itself a town of photography in 1985, and has held the Higashikawa International Photo Festival every summer since. Over the last 30 years, the accompanying Higashikawa Awards have celebrated both Japanese and international photographers, exhibiting their works and prints. This exhibition at Towada Art Center featured works from the Higashikawa Collection on the theme of genius loci , the protective spirit of a place. The photographers shown therein may have been subconsciously aware of some incorporeal presence when capturing the landscapes and lives of their subjects, as if in conversation with the mystical.

Contemporary art collector and psychiatrist Takahashi Ryutaro has amassed a collection of more than 2,000 items since 1997. “Messages” showcased a wide range of paintings, videos, and sculptural works, including invaluable early works by Kusama Yayoi and works by leading Japanese contemporary artists of the 1990s and 2000s̶a long list that includes Nara Yoshitomo and Murakami Takashi as well as Chim↑Pom, Kasetsu, and teamLab. The exhibition highlighted the diverse messages of these artists, whose works are an acute reflection of our times. A symposium on contemporary art titled “Communicating by Contemporary Art: Art Museums as the New Cultural Base in the City” was also held during the exhibition, leading to animated discussion on contemporary art and the challenges faced by art museums.

“Jump fills the museum with prank-like tricks and devices in a dialogue with the gravitational power of our planet. Believe in the limitless creativity of the earth and jump right in with your entire mind and body!” states an excerpt from the exhibition introduction. Built entirely around the theme of play, “Jump” is the creation of artists̶those grown-ups who haven’t forgotten how to fly. Garnering considerable attention for its interactive elements, the exhibition invited visitors to use all five of their senses and show off their creativity while interacting with diverse expressions of contemporary art.

The power of repeated movements and behaviors creates subtle differences in the emerging shapes, drawing the visitor into extraordinary situations. The “changes” that arise between actions and behaviors are already embedded in this generic word “repetition.” The accumulation of such changes brings in turn changes in seasons and landscapes. In “Waiting For Spring,” works by artists Abe Sachiko, Takada Akiko and Masako, and Nomura Kazuhiro were brought together in an attempt to share with visitors the new landscapes that emerge from simple, repeated acts.

Ethnologist and Aomori native Tanaka Chuzaburo spent his life researching and documenting the culture of his home. This exhibition featured implements and clothing from the collection Tanaka spent his life amassing and introduced the culture and lifestyles developed by the people of Aomori to survive the region’s long, harsh winters. Also on display were works of contemporary artists exploring materials from unique perspectives. In an age of rampant cheap and disposable consumption, “Spirit of Life in the North of Japan” provided an opportunity to trace the handicrafts and way of life of people who truly cared for their belongings through tireless maintenance and repurposing.

The nationwide open call for “POCORART” began in 2010 as a project between the Chiyoda Ward authorities and 3331 Arts Chiyoda in support of people with disabilities. The exhibition connected people to one another, to art, and to a variety of sensibilities, aiming to foster questions concerning both art and humanity. In 2014, a selection of works by 54 artists, chosen from the 2,292 artists and 4,820 pieces collected by 3331 Arts Chiyoda from members of the public nationwide since its inception in 2010, were shown at the exhibition “POCORART Declares! 2014.” From October 2014 to January 2015, these “POCORART” masterpieces toured three locations across Japan (Aomori, Akita, and Kochi), including Towada Art Center.

What does a space full of creativity and love look like in the aftermath of disaster? Held just three years after the Great East Japan Earthquake, this exhibition explored, through artworks and other post-disaster efforts, just what such spaces could look like. Sociologists like Kitahara Itoko and Rebecca Solnit have called these impromptu communities a type of “utopia” where people join hands and help each other above and beyond the call of duty or any local governmental or societal framework. “Big Sky Friendship,” run amid reconstruction efforts as Japan worked to recover from the disaster, brought together artworks addressing how looser, less formal forms of communication can develop between strangers as a result of unlikely catalysts.

Staged as part of Towada Art Center’s fifth-anniversary project, this exhibition showcased SANAA, the architectural duo comprising Nishizawa Ryue and Sejima Kazuyo. Nishizawa explained the exhibition in the following terms: “On display are the tools that architects use for work on a daily basis, which form the most basic language for architectural expression. By making use of these fundamental materials, we hope to show both how architects think, and how imagination develops in an architecturally creative working environment.” The exhibition consisted of forty models, drawings, and videos of buildings̶mainly museums̶from around the world, and proposed ideas for a new age of architecture as well as new relationships between locality and architecture. In addition to SANAA’s projects, the exhibition included personal work by Sejima and Nishizawa, completing the picture of SANAA’s architectural realm.

The Towada Oirase Art Festival extended beyond Towada Art Center into the city of Towada and the majestic natural environment of the Towada-Oirase area. It proved to be one of Towada Art Center’s most visited exhibitions, and was extended in response to popular demand. The exhibition was a time to reflect on the Towada Oirase Art Festival and consider its future potential, and photos and videos detailing the festival were therefore displayed alongside documentation of the production process that led up to its opening. Additionally, a venue in central Towada screened a documentary film on the Oirase Fishery and Rest House, produced over the course of five months by Umeda Tetsuya, contact Gonzo, and Shiga Lieko.

The earthquake and subsequent events of March 11, 2011, shook Japan’s sense of time. A quake of this magnitude is said to happen once in a thousand years, and made a shocking impact on the human realm built over the last few hundred. The theme of time formed the basis for this festival, which took place throughout the city of Towada and amongst the breathtaking natural beauty of the nearby Oirase Gorge and Lake Towada. Oirase Gorge and Lake Towada are home to a complex and diverse ecosystem that has developed over tens of thousands of years. By presenting different “times” across the gorge and lake, the festival exploredour current relationship to art, and asked, where to from here?

A flower-themed exhibition was held to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Towada Art Center. “flowers” featured artworks displayed both in the museum and around the city from a total of fourteen contributing artists, including Kusama Yayoi, Takahashi Kyota, Choi Jeonghwa, and Nara Yoshitomo, all of whom have pieces in Towada Art Center’s permanent collection. Two years after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, this floral-themed art generated compassion among museum visitors and helped them summon up the courage to face ongoing issues stemming from the tragedy. “flowers” opened in late April, a time when Towada sees cherry blossoms in full bloom. The exhibition joined the hundreds of cherry trees that line Kanchogai Avenue, where Towada Art Center is located, to make art bloom across the city.

Towada Art Center was transformed into an unprecedented kind of art school, where ticket holders were deemed students for the duration of the exhibition and could enter the school at any time and exhibit their work. Students gained an all-access pass to open art studios in the school and any club activities that interested them. The club managers were all artists, from many different fields. Artworks created by the managers and students were displayed as they continued to multiply throughout the exhibition period. The club activities emerging from the school eventually spread across the city of Towada, the exhibition treating Towada Art Center as a catalyst with the potential to bring people together and expand throughout the city.

“The Little Little House in the Blue Woods” was a solo exhibition by Nara Yoshitomo, an internationally renowned artist hailing from Aomori Prefecture. The exhibition featured early works as well as recent paintings, drawings, and sculptures, serving as a comprehensive showcase of Nara’s creative output. A highlight of the exhibition was the production of Yoroshiku Girl 2012 , which subsequently became part of the museum’s permanent collection. Nara depicts children with defiant attitudes or anxious eyes as well as animals that look lonely yet somehow humorous, both of which attracted many visitors to “The Little Little House in the Blue Woods.”

The Little Art Club in the Blue Woods, a project initiated by artist Nara Yoshitomo during his exhibition “The Little Little House in The Blue Woods,” was reactivated in conjunction with this exhibition. Young artists, chosen on an open-call basis, created artworks during two resident production sessions in Towada, alongside director Nara and advisor Fuji Hiroshi, then director of Towada Art Center and an artist himself. The results of their labor were displayed in “Through the Woods…,” with the city itself forming part of the venue. Towada Art Center has had a consistent commitment to being a museum open to the city, with a regional grounding, and this exhibition served to amplify its impact within the community.

The Arts Towada Oirase Project, built around the themes of nature and art, starts gradually at the Oirase Stream Museum. This marks the fifth anniversary since the start of Arts Towada and the opening of the Towada Art Center as its creative hub.

The exhibition confronts the nature of the Oirase Gorge and its vacant and abandoned tourist facilities, and questions the boundaries of human creativity. A new and inquisitive demonstration is about to begin.

The Towada Art Center invites artists who want to produce Towada/Oirase-related artwork and coordinators interested in how to build an art project in the Towada-Oirase area.


  • Hiroshi Fuji (Artist/Director, Towada Art Center)
  • Otoe Nii, Administrative Director (Towada Art Center / Nanjo & Associates)

Guest Curators

  • Keisuke Ozawa (NPO Corporation AIT)
Shoichiro Tachiki (Independent curator, teco LLC. representative)
Hiroyuki Hattori (Contemporary Art Centre Aomori)
Tsukasa Mori (Tokyo Culture Creation Project)

Camp dates

Friday, November 16
Begins at 13:00 at Towada Art Center
Tour & Orientation of Towada Art Center
Shuttle to Hoshino Resorts Oirase Keiryu Hotel
Check-in / hot springs / dinner
Lecture, discussion, and work by experts

Saturday, November 17
Morning workshops
On-site research tour
Discussions & workshops
On-site research tour
Discussions & workshops
Hot springs / dinner
Discussions & workshops

Sunday, November 18
Morning workshops
Shuttle to Towada Art Center
Concludes at 13:00 at Towada Art Center

Consistently focusing on the relationship between nature and humanity, Kuribayashi Takashi has long dealt with the theme of boundaries in his work. One example is his large-scale installation Sumpf Land (German for “wetland”), on permanent display at Towada Art Center. “TAKASHI KURIBAYASHI : WATER >|< WASSER” was Kuribayashi’s first solo exhibition in Japan and consisted of four new large-scale installations, all based on the theme of water. The exhibition also showed a wide range of works not just at the museum, but throughout the city of Towada. Though our views of nature changed dramatically in the wake of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, Kuribayashi’s work offered a new appreciation for our environment and innate human sensibility.

“Arts Towada Open Gallery” was an attempt to test the possibilities of art and bring new value and creativity to the region. True to the mission of the Arts Towada initiative, which strives to hold exhibitions that stimulate the community through art, the Arts Towada Open Gallery centered on resident production. The exhibition was also an opportunity to transform new artistic discoveries and perceptions developed by uniting artists, residents, and the museum as a source of inspiration for the city. In the 2012 Arts Towada Open Gallery, world-renowned artist Mineo Aayamaguchi’s proposal was chosen for production and exhibition.

Takagi Kumi is fascinated by human existence and the wonders of the flesh. In “Total Enclosure” she used elastic materials like latex rubber and motorized materials like pumps and fans to create art installations. With a career as a sculptor of shapes, Takagi is conscious of incorporating forces of motion beyond her control-wind and gravity being two examples- into the production of her artworks, whose shapes transform and fluctuate with the forces applied. This exhibition showcased Takagi’s latest output, including installations, sculptures, and video works.

“Sincerely Yours,” was the first solo museum exhibition of the multitalented Omiya Ellie, who has attracted attention as a writer, director, and painter. The exhibition featured new works as well as standout pieces from past exhibitions. Full of inherent and unbridled expression, Omiya’s paintings illustrate motifs, both familiar and naturally magnificent, that appeal to visitors’ emotions through their storytelling. “Shopping Street Museum by Ellie Omiya,” which also included several live painting events accompanied by musical performances, ran concurrently in venues across the city, giving audiences a rare and refreshing opportunity to see Omiya create at the intersection of painting and music.

Shopping Street Museum by Ellie Omiya is held concurrently with Sincerely Yours, Ellie Omiya in a unique exercise to tie Towada Art Center and the community together.

Ellie Omiya has installed her artwork in several abandoned shops and has also painted multiple storefront shutters throughout central Towada. She has also organized the production of her Rainbow Arcade, which gives a little bit of color to the decades-old shopping arcade, along with other programs and events that connect the museum and community.

Viewers can catch a glimpse of Omiya’s view of the world by leaving the museum for the center of town. The city becomes Omiya’s gallery, each venue with its own unique expression. This a first for Towada Art Center, which strives to be an open space for providing new experiences.

Exhibition Highlights


Exhibition Highlights

Exhibition Overview and Highlights

Guest Curator

Exhibition Overview and Highlights

Exhibition Highlights

Exhibition Highlights

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