Last Sunday, I had a pretty simple goal: go to Megijima to re-familiarize myself with it and see what had recently changed. As I only go there only about once a year, I’m not always up-to-date with what happens on the island, but on the other hand, it’s not like Megijima is fast paced. Actually, the only change that I noticed is a warehouse that is being turned into… something… no idea what. It could be related to the Setouchi Triennale, or it could have nothing to do with it, it’s too early to tell. I was also hoping to run into some artists who would have already arrived on the island, but we only ran into a single one and he informed us that he was the only one at the moment.
This Yuuki Murai from Chaos Lounge. He’s doing something for the Oni cave and it will be Oni-oriented. He was pretty friendly, but seemed a bit bored alone on the island. Indeed, a young Tokyo artist alone on Megijima must have a lot of time for his art, a lot of it. This is the way Megijima is; so used to only welcome beach-goers who don’t care about the rest of the island in Summer and visitors who only go to the cave and don’t care about the rest of the island the remainder of the year, that it has forgotten how to be welcoming to other visitors…Those who care…
Fun fact: later, when my friend told our common friends and acquaintances on Ogijima that he really had rediscovered Megijima and that it was actually a pretty interesting place, all of them had the same surprised, almost shocked expression. However, when he added that the village remained dead and its inhabitants invisible, relief replaced disbelief on their faces.
Back to our artist, I actually had trouble finding information about him and Chaos Lounge, but apparently, their name is well-earned. Their website(s) are indeed pretty chaotic (this is the only thing I could find in English about them), and their art too:
On the other hand, there is more than a month before opening day, and he had just started working on the project, it may look very different when finished (I hope so, but it doesn’t look like much at the moment – I did distinguish an Oni head though).
Two great looking Ote (pronounced more or less “Ohteh”), that is those walls that are so typical of Megijima in the area. Sure they look like castle walls, but they protect simple houses and gardens. Protect them from what? From bad weather, storms, winds, typhoons, tides. Remember that Ogicho is at sea level and very close to the shore.
Takamatsu in the background (not its best looking neighborhood).
One of Megicho’s “exits”
One of the many small stone Oni statues that indicate the way to the cave on the island.
(in case you’re wondering, they were created by my friend Yoshifumi Oshima of Onba Factory fame)
After two hours, we kinda had seen all there was to see in Ogicho. It’s sad, but there really isn’t anything in the village that is not either related to Art Setouchi (closed at the moment) or to summer and the beach (not the right season). It’s even a bit depressing when you compare to Ogijima where new things are happening left and right. Talking about Ogijima, as we were pretty much done with Megijima, how about we went?
So we did.
At the moment and unfortunately, there aren’t many artists preparing their installations on Ogijima either. For some reason, Fram Kitagawa, the Setouchi Triennale’s director, announced a few weeks ago that most art this year would be created in the artists’ studios and brought at a later date to the island. I’m not exactly sure why, but personally I think it’s a terrible idea. One of the great things about Ogijima, is that most of the art is usually created on the island, and has strong links to the identity and culture of the island. I think I understood that because Ogijima is one of the success stories of the Triennale, Kitagawa wants more “high-end art” on the island. I beg to disagree. One of the reasons I’m not such a big fan of Naoshima is that the art could be anywhere in the world, it just happens to be on Naoshima. On the other hand, Ogijima’s art is unique to the island, for the most part, it couldn’t exist in its current form anywhere else in the world. Well, let’s wait and see…
With that being said, Takeshi Kawashima has started installing his new artwork in his gallery. As I wasn’t sure if it was OK to publish pictures yet, I just didn’t take any, so you’ll have to wait a little more to see what it is about (well, I guess it was OK, Mr. Oshima went a few minutes before us, and published some on his blog). And next time I go, maybe Mr. Kawashima will be there. He’s getting quite old now, and he doesn’t go to the island every day. Even though he moved back to Takamatsu from New York recently, he has people helping him setting up his new installation.
But as the Setouchi Triennale’s preparation have barely started (on site that is) let’s talk about the upcoming major event on Ogijima. This coming Sunday (Feb 14th) the library will have its grand opening. Hopefully, I’ll be there and I’ll tell you about it soon. Last Sunday, the first books were already on the shelves, but the construction wasn’t completely finished yet:
And as we’re talking about construction, the new school should also be ready on time for the new school year (which starts in April in Japan):
And for a few more pictures:
Walking Ark, facing the sun.
See you very soon Ogijima.