2019.05.25 Fram Column 06: Key Aspects of the Triennale

The Triennale is going well, and we’re getting great feedback. Tomorrow is the last day of the spring session. The sense of pride and responsibility at the morning meetings of the Koebitai volunteer group is tangible. They’re all working hard to make sure the session ends smoothly.

A friend who took the 1:00 AM ferry from Kobe and arrived in Takamatsu Higashi Port at 6:00 AM told me that it was full of visitors from Kansai on their way to the Triennale. I can see why they wanted to come today. Tomorrow will be their last chance to see Shamijima. As for me, I spent the day guiding Princess Mikasa.

“On the sea of heaven, clouds rise like waves, and the boat of the crescent moon sails into a forest of stars.”

This poem by Kakinomoto no Hitomaru is great, don’t you think? Russian artist Leonid Tishkov used it in one of his works. It’s sad to think that after tomorrow we won’t be able to see Tishkov’s or Yoshitaka Nanjo’s works anymore.

As the spring session draws to a close, many people have been requesting interviews. Today, I met with a group of French reporters, two newspapers from Japan, and one magazine.

Their questions covered a broad range of topics such as:
Why do so many people come to the Triennale?
Why are there so many visitors from overseas?
What’s the difference between permanent works and those that are only shown during Triennale sessions?
How did the Triennale get started?
What prospects do you foresee for the future?
Why do you have so many volunteer supporters?
Etc., etc.

I did my best to explain key aspects of the Setouchi Triennale. Things like:
- The contemporary meaning of producing site-specific artworks, from finding a site to collaborative production;
- The meaning and limitations of presenting art in white cubes, such as galleries and art museums, an approach rooted in the concept of universal space which forms the basis of contemporary thought;
- The restrictive chains forged by worldwide environmental degradation and the spreading global-market economy, and how traveling can break those fetters;
- The significance and power of art as an expression of the lives of 7.5 billion people.

It takes a long time to explain such concepts, and I still don’t feel I’m very successful at getting them across. But this philosophy was born through the process of putting these concepts into practice as we interacted with the islanders and learned from our mistakes.

We’ve been holding meetings on the four islands joining the Triennale for the fall session since yesterday and will continue tomorrow. My main work for the upcoming summer session will be to continue pondering the ideas I described above while accurately grasping the situation of those on the ground and making sure that the artists’ intentions are realized.

Until summer, the Triennale will take a short break.