Day 10

Tokyo Joe!

Tokyo, and Tokyo tower.

Have you ever imagined a museum of contemporary art located at the 53th floor of a sky-scraper? A museum director known all over the world as one of the best stylist? A gallery with 14’000 m2 of exhibition and 1 million visitors per year ? Welcome in Roppongi and his fascinating art triangle.


Among the very young institutions we’ve visited today, the first one was the Mori Art Museum, created in 2003 and owned by the Mori Real Estate company. Since then, 40 exhibitions were organized with the focus ART + LIFE. A large topic, which could include many projects… Besides solo shows of mid-carriers artists, the team of curators plans region-based exhibitions focused on emerging or forgotten countries. Listening to the presentation of the curator Kondo Kenichi, we realize that the museum was created before having a collection, as a japanese Kunsthalle.


The acquisitions came afterwards and are soon going to have their own exhibition space. It’s interesting to see that we usually start with a collection to create a museum.
Striking is the attention the Mori Museum pays to the visitors. Opening hours until 22.00 (everyday), tours dedicated to depressed mums with their babies (« buggy tour »), « urgent » talks for more informed public, etc.
After a short walk, we join the 21_21 design museum, founded in 2001.


Noriko Kawakami & Bas Valcks

We immediately recognize the concrete pattern of Tadao Ando, that we’ve just seen many times in Naoshima. The zig-zag shape of the building is allegedly alluding to a piece of cloth as an homage to its founder Issey Miyake. The co-director Noriko Kawakami, welcomes us warmly with her (of course) Miyake folded black dress. She’s very glad to introduce the first exhibition entitled Making Images. Here again, a large and harmless topic… The show intends to create a dialog between art and design. But the design remains in separated spaces and do not really meet the art-pieces. The challenge is still there!


If the 21_21 has no collections, the huge National Art Center hasn’t any either. The youngest institution funded by the government is also the largest. It welcomes around 1 million visitors per year in 12 galleries, in a mix of mainstream shows and fairs.


One gallery hosts a Musée d’Orsay retrospective. The show is overcrowded and reveals the fascination of Japanese people for western countries. If you want to have the same shoes as the Fifre (Edouard Manet, 1866), you will easily find them in the shop, as well as french marmelade !
The day ends with a reception at the Dutch Embassy, with about 80 people attending. We meet Japanese artist as well as curators on the terrace. It’s a chance to get introduced to all these interesting people.

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Julie & Julie

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