Contemporary Art Center/Gallery, ART TOWER MITO

Mito Arts Foundation
1-6-8 Goken-cho, Mito-shi, Ibaraki-ken, 310-0063 Japan
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Phone: +81 29-227-8111 Facsimile: +81 29-227-8130
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"LIFE" Exhibition
July 22 (Sat) to Oct. 9 (Mon., National Sports Day holiday), 2006

Closed Mondays (except Sept. 18 and Oct. 9, both of which are national holidays) Sept. 19 (Tues.), following the Respect for the Aged Day holiday.

Nowadays, people seem to have lost grasp of the true sense of living and the reality of life, owing to the growing tendency to communicate over the computer or mobile (cell) phones and to be absorbed in the virtual reality of games.

The exhibition at the Contemporary Art Gallery at Art Tower Mito (ATM) between July and October 2006 concentrates on the theme of evoking and arousing various forms of the life force. Not only does it introduce the work of contemporary artists, but also that of cartoonists, anti-HIV/AIDS activists, and artists who pursue their creative work despite physical or other disabilities. The forms of expression that are supported by and result from such an elemental impulse - the urge to live - transcend the boundaries of artistic genre and social standing, giving rise to a venue or forum in which the various types of the life force intersect.

During the exhibition, talks, lectures and worships will be held, allowing guest speakers from various walks of life to address such elemental questions of "Why do human beings feel compelled to express?", "What does it mean to live?", and "Who am I?".

Participating Artists

Hanako Imamura, Kyoko Okazaki, Hideaki Kawashima, Yuichi Saito, Takuya Sasaki, Takashi Shuji, Koji Tanada, Yasuyuki Nishio, Akira the Hustler, HEARTBEAT DRAWING-SASAKI, Korehiko Hino, Masami Yamagiwa, Masayuki Yoshinaga

Exhibition Details

Name: LIFE
Dates: July 22 (Sat) to Oct. 9 (Mon., National Sports Day holiday), 2006
Times: 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (no admission after 5:30 p.m.)
Closed: Mondays (except Sept. 18 and Oct. 9, both of which are national holidays) Sept. 19 (Tues.), following the Respect for the Aged Day holiday.
Venue: Contemporary Art Gallery, Art Tower Mito (ATM)

Admission: ¥800 General
¥600 Advance Purchase
Groups (20 or more)
Free Students through 9th grade
Seniors 65 and older
Persons with certified disabilities

Ticket purchase: Ticket Counter, ATM Entrance Hall
JR East Midori-no-Madoguchi ticket windows
JR East View Plaza ticket offices

*One-year Free Pass: One-year passes are also available for purchase at the ATM Entrance Hall Ticket Counter. The H.T.P. (High-teen Pass) for young people aged 15 to 19 costs \1,000, and the Adult Pass for adults aged 20 to 64 can be bought for \2,500.

Organizer: Mito Arts Foundation
Support: Ibaraki Prefecture
Ibaraki Prefectural Board of Education
Ibaraki Prefecture Disabled Persons' Sports and Culture Society
Mito-shi Shakai Fukushi Kyogi-kai
NHK Mito Branch
Co-sponsors: ITH
Asahi Breweries, Ltd.
Toyota Mortor Corporation
Cooperation: Kawaguchi Taiyo no Ie Kobo "Shu"
MOB museum of alternative-art (NPO)
Yamanami Kobo
Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Co.,Ltd.
SOUM Corporation
Tokyo Color Kogei-sha
Fuji Photo Film Co.,Ltd.

Planning: Mizuki Takahashi (curator, ATM Contemporary Art Center)
Co-planning: Yoshiko Hata, Rika Yamashita

Participating Artists and Exhibited Works

Hanako Imamura (b. 1979, Kyoto)

Famous for her "food art" made from dinner leftovers, Imamura's oil paintings - which she draws day to day - overwhelm viewers with their vivid use of colors and the forceful brushwork that seems to exude the life force itself. She appeared in the documentary movie "Hanako," directed by Makoto Sato, and served as the model for Rinko Kawaguchi's photo collection of the same name. The ATM exhibition this time introduces all of Imamura's 70-odd oil paintings she has drawn so far.

Image: Hanako Imamura "Untitled" 2001

Kyoko Okazaki (b. 1963, Tokyo)
Debuting in 1983 with "Cartoon Burikko" (Byakuya Shobo), Okazaki put on a solo exhibition in 1994 at the grand opening of the experimental art space P-House in Tokyo. From 1993 to 1994, she did a serialization called "River's Edge," in which she portrayed the conflicts and problems experienced during their everyday lives by high-schoolers living in a Tokyo suburb; the series had a big influence on the literary world. In 1996 she had the misfortune of being in a car accident, and has been in rehabilitation ever since. Her "Helter-Skelter" won the Award for Excellence in the cartoon division of the Cultural Affairs Agency's 2003 Media Art Festival, and she also won the 8th Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize and Cartoon Grand Prize in 2004. With her permission, the "LIFE" exhibition will exhibit Okazaki's original drawings alongside to a "library corner" containing all the books she has published so far.

Image: Kyoko Okazaki "River's Edge" 1994
© Kyoko Okazaki & Takarajima-sha

Hideaki Kawashima (b. 1969, Aichi Prefecture)
After graduating from Tokyo Zokei University in 1995, Kawashima spent two years at the Emmaji temple in Mt. Hie to undergo ascetic Buddhist training in the Tendai Sect. Since 2001, however, when he put on his "Morning Glory" exhibition curated by Michi Nara, he has resided in Tokyo and started to produce works. He also actively takes part in group exhibitions overseas. The "LIFE" exhibition will show a new large-sized oil painting of his for the first time.

Image: Hideaki Kawashima "crooked" 2006
©2005 Hideaki Kawashima
Courtesy of Koyama Tomio Gallery
PhotoFYoshitaka Uchida, nomadic studio

Yuichi Saito (b. 1983, Saitama Prefecture)
A member of Kawaguchi Taiyo no Ie Kobo "Shu" workshop, Saito primarily employs letters (Chinese characters, alphabet, etc.) in his expressive activities. In ATM's current exhibition, he stitches together the titles of such popular TV programs as "Hagure Keiji" and "Doraemon" to elegantly produce drawings that appear like billowing waves.

Image: Yuichi Saito "Pokemon" 2005

Takuya Sasaki (b. 1970, Tokyo)
Despite his autism, Sasaki makes drawings, paintings and objects. No day passes without his working on some project, and the prodigious number of objects he has produced includes sculptures of all 12 disciples appearing in Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper," as well as figures of animals. A collection of his works, "Okaasan (Mother)," has been published by Shogakukan, and he has also put on many solo exhibitions and participated in many group exhibitions in Japan. The ATM exhibition this time will feature some of Sasaki's works that have rarely appeared before: namely, his depictions of women, arguably his life work.

Image: Takuya Sasaki "Girl" 1997

Takashi Shuji(b. 1974, Hyogo Prefecture)
Shuji started drawing pictures in 1993 while engaged in an extracurricular activity carried out at the Suzukake Workshop for handicapped persons. His still-life works using charcoal have won plaudits both domestically and overseas. Shuji has participated in many group exhibitions as well as putting on solo exhibitions.

Image: Takashi Shuji "Rosoku to Itonoko to Hankachi (candles, a coping saw, and a handkerchief)" 2006

Koji Tanada (b. 1968, Hyogo Prefecture)
In the past, Tanada used to combine different kinds of materials to make deformed human shapes, but more recently he has been making realistic carvings of boys and girls out of single pieces of wood, depicting the delicate expressions characteristic of people in their transition from childhood to adulthood. The "LIFE" exhibition will show recent and new works of his.

Image: Koji Tanada "Boy" 2006
Photo: Kei Miyajima
Courtesy of Mizuma Art Galery & Restaurant Queen Alice

Yasuyuki Nishio (b. 1967, Tokyo)
Having graduated from the Musashino University of Art, Nishio employs an unique technique to make objects representing human bodies and buildings: he forgoes the use of tools, instead creating molds through an accumulation of his own fingerprints and finger marks. At the ATM exhibition, he will display for the first time a new work: a giant palace based on the motif of human internal organs.

Image: asuyuki Nishio "Transform #1" 2004
Photo: Keizo Kioku
Courtesy of Gendai Yamamoto & Ryutaro Takahashi

Akira the Hustler(b. 1969, Tokyo)
Formerly a drag queen who performed at night clubs in Osaka and Kyoto, Akira the Hustler now gives performances at art museums in Japan and abroad. His collection of photographs and essays, "Diary of a Male Prostitute," explores the theme of life, sex, love and death as glimpsed through the myriad forms of human drama that he encountered every day as a sex worker; the book garnered support from a broad segment of the population. ATM's exhibition will display several of his works incorporating photography and written text.

Image: Akira the Hustler "Kyaku, Tomodachi to Koibito (guest, friend and love)" 2000
Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts

HEARTBEAT DRAWING-SASAKI (b. 1964, Akita Prefecture)
Ever since 1995, SASAKI has been obsessively producing his "Heartbeat Drawings," in which heartbeats are recorded on paper with red ink. His completed works show the fine lines of the red ink forming a dense sort of net that support a figure, suggesting the unlimited expanse of life. The "LIFE" exhibition is the first time that a large-scale installation of SASAKI's works has been displayed in Japan.

Image: HEARTBEAT DRAWING-SASAKI "Heartbeat Drawing since 1995" 1999

Korehiko Hino (b. 1976, Ishikawa Prefecture)
After graduating from the Art Studies Division of the Tsukuba University Graduate School with a specialization in Western painting, Hino has built up a solid reputation both in Japan and abroad for his depictions of expressionless human forms - difficult to make out whether they are adults or children - that embody the anxiety that all of us in the contemporary era sense in a vague, nebulous way. The current exhibition focuses on his oil paintings as well as his drawings.

Image: Korehiko Hino "Ashi wo Taberu (a boy is sucking his foot)"
Courtesy of Cultural Affairs Agency, Japan

Masami Yamagiwa (b. 1972, Ishikawa Prefecture)
A member of the Yamanami Kobo workshop, Yamagiwa has been earnestly producing mysterious objects of art called "Tatsumi Jizo" ever since 1992 (a "jizo" is a small statue of a guardian deity of children often seen in Buddhist temples). The "LIFE" exhibition displays several thousand of these objects.

Image: Masami Yamagiwa "Masami Jizo (figures of guardian deity)" 1992-

Masayuki Yoshinaga (b. 1964, Osaka)
With a speckled past as a worker in a sleazy bar, as a crooked peddler, and in the moving business - he even trained to be a child welfare worker - Yoshinaga eventually ended up as a photographer, and is now active in the fields of fashion, advertising, and reportage photography. In 2000 he published a collection of his photographs, "Sorry" (published by Shinchosha), portraying people at the edge of modern society, such as "yakuza" gangsters, bar workers, and "bosozoku" motorbike gangs. He also came out with a book called "Zoku" (published by Little More), the photographs from which are displayed at the "LIFE" exhibition next to the works of Hanako Imamura, in a contrasting manner.

Image: Masayuki Yoshinaga "Higashi Kanto C. R. S. Rengo-kai Intai Shukai (farewell party for the C. R. S. Higashi Kanto)" 2001

Related Events

1. Opening Lecture: "What Kind of Expressions Move/Shake the Heart?" by Ken'ichiro Mogi
Trained as a brain scientist but also broadly active as a commentator in the fields of art and literature, Mogi will give a talk about the expressive abilities of human beings.
Lecturer: Ken'ichiro Mogi (brain scientist)
When: July 22, 2006 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. (doors open at 1:30 p.m.)
Where: ACM Theatre at ATM
Capacity: 300 people
Admission: 500 yen
Note: Tickets are only available on the day of the lecture, and can be bought at the Ticket Counter in the ATM Entrance Hall (serial numbers distributed) starting at 9:30 a.m.

About Ken'ichiro Mogi
Brain scientist, with a Ph.D. in physics from the School of Science at the University of Tokyo Graduate School . Specializes in brain science and cognitive science. Using the concept of "qualia" (the "texture" of having sensation) as the key word in researching the relation between the brain and the mind, Mogi is also active as a commentator on arts and letters. He currently serves as senior researcher at the Sony Computer Science Research Institute, guest associate professor in brain science and cognitive science at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, as well as adjunct instructor in the anatomy of art at Tokyo Gakugei University. Mogi also serves as the anchor for NHK's "The Professional: The Style of Work"

Main publications:
"The Brain and Qualia" (published by Nikkei Science)
"I, Who Live and Die" (Tokuma Shoten)
"The System of the Brain that Gives Rise to the Mind" (NHK Publications)
"What Is Consciousness? The Brain that Generates 'Me'" (Chikuma Shinsho)
"Phenomena Inside the Brain" (NHK Publications)
"The Brain and Virtual Reality"* (Shinchosha)
"The Brain and Creativity" (PHP Research Institute)
"The Advent of Qualia" (Bungei Shunju)
"Life Inside the Brain" (Chuo Koron Shinsha).
*Winner of the 4th Hideo Kobayashi Prize.

2. Dance Performance: "Mr. Tsuyoshi, Won't You Come to Mito?"
The dance unit of Takeshi Nishimura and "yum" - the talk of the town in the Kansai region (Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe) - will put on a comical impromptu dance performance.
Performers: Takeshi Nishimura and "yum"
When: July 23, 2006 (Sun) 2:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Where: Room 3, ATM Contemporary Art Gallery
How much: Included in the exhibition entrance fee

About Takeshi Nishimura
Belongs to the candy-making section of the Suzukake Workshop in Mukogawa of Nishinomiya City. Ever since his participation in a dance dynamics workshop by Wolfgang Stange in 1996, Nishimura has quickly improved his performance talent, and has a reputation for flexibility and excellence of response.

About "yum"
Having studied classical ballet, modern dance and "butoh" when she was young, "yum" is now active in Japan and abroad as a dancer and choreographer. She primarily conducts collaborative work with artists from other fields, as well as impromptu dance. Recently, she has actively been carrying out workshops for handicapped people and grade-schoolers.

3. Curators' Talk
The curators in charge of planning the "LIFE" exhibition will give a talk.
When: Aug. 5, 2006 (Sat) 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Where: ATM Contemporary Art Gallery
How much: Fee included in the exhibition admission.

4. Workshop and Public Demonstration: "Let's Make Picture Books for Touching"
Kyoto-based Takayuki Mitsushima, who energetically engages himself in expressive activities despite his being unable to see, will give a lecture to 5th and 6th graders on a new way to appreciate art through the sense of touch. Afterwards, he will produce touch-based paintings together with the workshop participants.
Lecturer: Takayuki Mitsushima (artist)
When: Aug. 25 (Fri) and 26 (Sat), 2006 1:00 p.m. To 4:30 p.m.
Where: Workshop Room in ATM Contemporary Art Gallery
Target: over 5th graders
How many: 15 children each day (first-come, first-served; reserve by phone)
How much: 500 yen (in addition to the exhibition admission)

About Takayuki Mitsushima
Having lost his sight around age 10, Mitsushima graduated from Otani University in 1980 with a degree in philosophy, and opened an acupuncture clinic two years later (acupuncture is a common occupation for blind people in Japan). In 1992, Mitsushima began his creative career, using clay. Since 1995, he has produced "picture books for touching" with a unique style that employs drafting tape and cutting sheets. In 1998, won both the grand and silver prizes at the 1998 Art Paralympics in Nagano. In 1999, he participated in the "Art Festival Kyo - SKIN-DIVE" at the Genryuike (??) Œ³—´’rElementary School. He has also taken part in many exhibitions, including solo ones, as well as serving as an instructor at workshops.

5. Takayuki Mitsushima Public Demonstration
Watch the blind artist Takayuki Mitsushima use a large wall as a canvas to draw a world that can be experienced through touch and hearing.
When: Aug. 27, 2006 (Sun) 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Where: Workshop Room in ATM Contemporary Art Gallery
How much: Fee included in the exhibition admission.

6. "Things One Finds Out Only Together With Someone Else"
Completely blind, Kenji Shiratori is an expert in art appreciation using words. On two afternoons in September, he will lead both handicapped and "normal" people around the "LIFE" exhibition, relating his views about the works being exhibited and getting the participants to share their own opinions.
Lecturer: Kenji Shiratori
When: Sept. 8 (Fri) and 9 (Sat), 2006 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Where: ATM Contemporary Art Gallery
Capacity: 20 people each day (first-come, first-served; reserve by phone)
Deadline: Sept. 5, 2006 (Tue)
How much: Fee included in the exhibition admission. (One person accompanying each handicapped person also gets free admission)

About Kenji Shiratori
Through his activities with the museum access group MAR - which considers art appreciation to be "communication through words" - Shiratori is busy making proposals to art museums around Japan on ways for both blind and sighted people to "view" art.

7. Special Talks

-- Special Talk #1: "Yoroshiku: The World of Contemporary Poetry"
(1) Kyoichi Tsuzuki will serve as a navigator of contemporary avant-garde poetry closely linked to daily life, illuminating us about its charms.
Speaker: Kyoichi Tsuzuki (editor)
When: Sept. 2, 2006 (Sat) 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. (doors open at 1:30 p.m.)
Where: Workshop Room in ATM Contemporary Art Gallery
Capacity: 80 people
How much: Fee included in the exhibition admission.

About Kyoichi Tsuzuki
Started out as a freelance editor for such magazines as "Popeye" and "Brutus," writing articles about contemporary art, architecture, design, and urban living. In 1993, his "Tokyo Style" (published by Kyoto Shobo) created a sensation for its portrayal of scenes of otherwise ordinary living spaces around Tokyo. A later work, "Roadside Japan: Curiosities Seen on a Trip Around Japan" (Chikuma Shobo) won the 23rd Ihei Kimura Prize. More recently, he has been engaged in writing and book editing, as well as exhibiting in galleries in Japan and around the world. He now writes a regular column, "Yoroshiku: Contemporary Poetry," for Shincho magazine.

-- Special Talk #2: "What Is Borderless Art?"
Come hear a panel discussion by an artist, a curator and a journalist about the concept of borderless art, a movement arising in the Kansai region (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe) to develop new horizons of art.
Panelists: Yasumasa Morimura (artist), Yoshiko Hata (art director of Borderless Art Gallery NO-MA, also author of picture books), Rika Yamashita (art journalist)
When: Oct. 1 (Sun), 2006 2:00 p.m. To 4:00 p.m. (doors open at 1:30 p.m.)
Where: Workshop Room inside ATM Contemporary Art Gallery
Capacity: 80 people
How much: Fee included in the exhibition admission

About the Panelists

Yasumasa Morimura
Graduated from Kyoto City University of the Arts. Ever since his release of "Portrait (Gogh)" in 1985, Morimura has continued to use multifarious self-portraits, such as dressing up as famous people in paintings or as actresses, to explore the idea of "myself." After participating in the Venice Biennale of 1998, he has built up his reputation through numerous exhibitions held in Japan and abroad. Morimura's books include "Declaration of a Visionary Artist" (Iwanami Shoten) and "Lectures in the Anatomy of Art" (Chikuma Shobo).

Yoshiko Hata
Currently residing in Nishinomiya City (Hyogo Prefecture), Hata graduated from the Education Division of Okayama University with a special major in art. Besides working as a picture-book artist, she also serves as the art director of the Borderless Art Gallery NO-MA, run by the social welfare organization of Shiga Prefecture. Since 1990, she has run a drawing/painting class as an art volunteer for the Suzukake Workshop, a day-care vocational facility for mentally handicapped people in Nishinomiya City (Hyogo Prefecture). In her spare time, she also organizes art exhibitions in Japan and abroad of works produced by handicapped people.

Rika Yamashita
Having graduated from the Kyoto University of Education with a special major in art, Yamashita started working in various editorial productions, then became freelance in 1998. Currently she is writing for various general magazines such as "Pia" and "AERA," focusing on exhibitions and the connection between art and society. She also teaches at the Kyoto University of Art and Design as an adjunct instructor.

Coordinated Events

-- Enjoy a Discount at the MOB Museum of Alternative Art
After seeing the "LIFE" exhibition at ATM, bring your used ticket stub to the MOB Museum of Alternative Art, in Bato near Mito, in order to get a 10% discount (540 yen instead of 600 yen) at the "Summer Forum 2006: Follow, Wear, Sleep" exhibition being held from June 3 to September 3. There you can view several objects made by Takuya Sasaki, who has also submitted works in ATM's exhibition this time.

-- Take a Day Trip during Your Summer Vacation: "Bus Tour of MOB Museum of Alternative Art"
In the rural town of Bato, amidst greenery and historical sites, can be found both the MOB Museum of Alternative Art and the Hiroshige Museum designed by the famous architect, Kengo Kuma. This trip will take about nine hours, leaving ATM shortly after breakfast and returning before dinnertime. Tours of both museums will be provided along with an explanation of the displayed works. Lunch is also included, consisting of ayu sweetfish; the restaurant overlooks a clear mountain stream for your dining pleasure.
When: Aug. 19, 2006 (Sat)
Meet at: 8:45 a.m.
Where: Behind the cascade in the ATM Plaza
Itinerary: Leave ATM at 9:00 a.m.
Visit MOB Museum of Alternative Art
Eat lunch of ayu sweetfish while viewing the riverside fishing weir
Visit Hiroshige Museum in Nakagawa-cho, Bato
Rest at Bato roadside station
Return to ATM
Visit "LIFE" Exhibition
Finish at 6:00 p.m.
Capacity: 40 people (first-come, first-served; telephone reservations accepted)
Apply by: Aug. 10, 2006 (Thu)
How much: 5,000 yen
What's included: Admission fee to exhibitions, bus fare, lunch, travel insurance

About the "MOB Museum of Alternative Art"
Using an abandoned elementary school building in an isolated village, the MOB Museum primarily features art produced by mentally handicapped people. The aim is to provide a venue to explore and bring out the human potential, allowing visitors to encounter and engage with the various artworks displayed.

Home Page of "MOB Museum of Alternative Art"


CRITERIUM 68: Mieko Matsumoto
Dates: July 22 (Sat.) to Oct. 9 (Mon., National Sports Day holiday), 2006
Venue: Room 9, Contemporary Art Gallery, ATM
Planning coordinator: Toshihiro Asai (chief curator, Contemporary Art Center, ATM)
Fee: Included in the price of admission to the current exhibition

* The word "criterium" is the Latin word for the Greek "criterion," and means "standard." The Criterium Series at ATM Contemporary Art Gallery aims to introduce the new works of young artists in Japan, and the exhibitions are produced in collaboration with curators from the ATM Contemporary Art Center.

ATM Contemporary Art Gallery's
Pass for Adults
© Hiroko Ichihara
A pass has been designed for adults aged 20 and older, letting the holder make an unlimited number of visits to the Contemporary Art Gallery's exhibitions for one year from the date of purchase.
The price is ¥2,500 The artwork on the pass has been designed by Hiroko Ichihara, an artist who incorporates words in her works. The logo on the pass reads: "Contemporary art -- as easy as pie." The pass is on sale at the ticket counter in Art Tower Mito.

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Translated by Paul T. Narum
(official names of exhibitions and artworks are furnished by the artists and planners themselves)

Copyright ©2006 MITO ARTS FOUNDATION. All Rights Reserved. Created by TK.
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