Tadasu Takamine’s Cool Japan

December 22, 2012, to February 17, 2013

“The Lost Lawsuit Room”
Installation view at Contemporary Art Gallery, Art Tower Mito  Photo:Yoko Hosokawa

Tadasu Takamine is known for a body of work that brims with both humor and a keen sense of criticality in relation to the systems of oppression and control concealed within contemporary society.
Just before the outbreak of the war in Iraq in 2002, Takamine depicted the imperious power wielded by the United States and its complex structures of control and domination in his video work “God Bless America”. Ten years after this work was first exhibited, and following the disasters of March 11, 2011, Takamine finally returns to tackle the subject of his home country, Japan.
The “Cool Japan” in the title of the exhibition is a catchphrase devised by the Japanese government. It is a self-branding exercise that encapsulates its active attempts to promote various forms of Japanese culture to an international audience. Takamine uses the catchphrase in ironical way to search for what has built “Japaneseness”.
For this exhibition, Takamine will showcase installations in each of the galleries that draw our attention to words, slogans and images that the Japanese have unconsciously promoted, disseminated, and deployed in an oppressive way from the postwar period up until the present. These newly commissioned interactive works will offer visitors a taste of Takamine’s vision of a “Cool Japan”.

“Simone de Beauvoir famously wrote that “one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” In other words, the process by which one’s individual self-consciousness emerges is profoundly influenced by an awareness of the larger collective. This notion, it seems to me, is gradually taking on a larger significance in contemporary Japan. Having become all too familiar with the idea that “one is not born, but rather becomes, Japanese”, there are many things that have never really entered our consciousness – perhaps because they have been skillfully manipulated and doctored in a way that hinders us from paying them too much attention. Now, at long last, we find ourselves in a situation where we are actually confronted with the experience of these things.
What are we made up of, and how are our selves and identities created? This seems to be the question that has emerged, like a plume of smoke, in the wake of March 11. What is it that humans live for? This age-old question, continually pondered and philosophized since ancient times, is one that I would like to think about together with the audience, superimposed onto the trajectory of each of our lives thus far.”

Profile of Tadasu Takamine

Contemporary artist and theater director. Born in Kagoshima in 1968 and lives in Shiga. Graduated from the lacquer work department of Kyoto City University of Arts and Music, and the Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Science (IAMAS) in Gifu. Much of Takamine’s work awakens a feeling of non-verbal compassion and sympathy in the viewer through installations, media art techniques, and performances that emphasize the bi-directional relationship between a work and its audience. His practice also deals with issues related to American imperialism, the sexuality of handicapped persons, and issues facing foreign residents in Japan, highlighting the complex relationships between authority and subject, those implicated within a particular situation, and those who are not, often prompting the viewer towards a process of self-questioning. His works have been highly acclaimed both in Japan and abroad. Takamine participated in the Venice Biennale in 2003, and his solo show “Too Far to See” toured three Japanese museums between 2011 and 2012. He is also the author of “A Lover from Korea” (Kawade Shobo Shinsha,2008), a novel that examines issues related to identity and nationalism through his own personal relationship with an ethnic Korean woman resident in Japan, and an incident that took place at a manganese mine in Kyoto, where Takamine wrote the work.

New Works

“Japan Syndrome MITO version”2012
Photo:Mieko Matsumoto

Tadasu Takamine and new work 
Photo:Mieko Matsumoto

For reference

“God Bless America” 2002

“[Big Rest] Gardening for the Future 1095m2”
Installation view 2008 Photo:Izuru Echigoya

“Solar-Generating People” 2010

“A Big Blow-job” 2004



Tadasu Takamine’s Cool Japan


Contemporary Art Gallery




9:30-18:00 (no admittance after 17:30)


Closed on Mondays (except December 24, January 14, February 11, public holiday and Tuesday, December 25) January 15, February 12, and New Year holidays (December 27- January 3, 2013)


800yen/600yen for advance booking and group of more than 20 people
Free admission for under 15, seniors over 65, the disabled and one accompanying attendant
[One-year Pass]
1000yen: High Teen Pass "H.T.P." for youth between the age of 15 and 19
2500yen: Adult Pass for those aged 20 and over

Organized by

Mito Arts Foundation

Grants from

The Japan Arts Fund, The Mitsubishi UFJ Trust Cultural Foundation, 
Asahi Beer Arts Foundation

Supported from

Asahi Breweries, Ltd.

Curated by

Mizuki Takahashi (Senior Curator, Contemporary Art Center, Art Tower Mito)

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Related program
Tadasu Takamine's COOL JAPAN


January 19 (Sat.), 2013

Mizuki Takahashi, the curator of the exhibition will talk about artistic practice by Tadasu Takamine
and Exhibition.
Date: Saturday, January 19, 2013 14:00-15:00 (Only in Japanese language)
Venue: Workshop Room, Contemporary Art Gallery, Art Tower Mito
Capacity: 50 (first-come-first-served)

Related program
Tadasu Takamine's COOL JAPAN

Artist Talk

February 16 (Sat.), 2013

Tadasu Takamine will talk about his new works and exhibition.
Date: Saturday, February 16, 2013 14:00-15:00 
Venue: Workshop Room, Contemporary Art Gallery, Art Tower Mito
Capacity: 60 (first-come-first-served)

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