Remain Calm: Solitude and Connectivity in Japanese Architecture, 3rd Iteration of Sharjapan

Sharjah Art Foundation presents the third iteration of Sharjapan, Remain Calm: Solitude and Connectivity in Japanese Architecture, curated by Yuko Hasegawa. Reflecting on the intimate role architecture plays in our lives, the exhibition, which runs from 24 July to 1 October 2021, explores the work of notable Japanese architects and an artist who use traditional concepts to create physical spaces with both modern and contemporary resonance.

Conventionally understood as a space of enclosure, architecture exists independent of the external world, and yet simultaneously in dialogue with its surrounding environment.

Remain Calm draws inspiration from the thirteenth century poet Kamo no Chōmei and looks to the hut, or hermitage, as a prototype that illustrates one of the underlying spiritual aspects of Japanese architecture. Having witnessed famine, natural disaster and war, Chōmei became a hermit and retreated to a tiny, collapsible hut that he moved along the banks of the Kamo River.

This portable shelter offered Chōmei a place for quiet reflection, a space to remain calm—independent from the outside world while at the same time connected to the surrounding environment through sensory perception. The exhibition examines architectural projects that date from the thirteenth century to the present, from both historic and contemporary perspectives, through the lens of two key themes: solitude and connectivity.

The modern and contemporary projects presented in this exhibition have inherited simplicity, serenity—and autonomy from, yet connection with, the outside world—qualities integral to Japanese huts, tea ceremony rooms and traditional sukiya-zukuri residential architecture that originated in Zen culture.

The exhibition introduces visitors to experiments in Japanese architecture that aesthetically, stylistically and methodologically demonstrate a similar clarity of construction.

Remain Calm features an expansive design, which includes sculptural models that explore abstract concepts, spatial and performative multi-media installations as well as drawings, photographs and scale models of architectural projects.

A model of Sen no Rikyū’s Tai-an tea house serves as the starting point of this survey, which subsequently introduces the work of emergent and established architects Koji Fuji, Togo Murano, Sutemi Horiguchi, Toyo Ito, Kazuyo Sejima, Junya Ishigami, onishimaki + hyakudayuki architects, Shingo Masuda and Katsuhisa Otsubo, alongside a performative installation by artist Nile Koetting.

Koetting’s performance will take place throughout the opening day from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm. The multidisciplinary artist will present Remain Calm (Reduced +), a new version of his ongoing performative installation, inspired by the writings of author and researcher Miriam Stoney.

The futuristic landscape is programmed to simulate the conditions of natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, fires and meteorite impacts. As disaster unfolds on a simulative ‘set’, the installation imagines an institution in a state of emergency and questions the kinds of solidarity that would emerge.

The performance offers practical perspectives on the role museums and art centres can play in times of crisis.  Speculative scenography is evoked by sensory elements such as fog, light, micro plastic sand and stylised moving images like those seen on airport information display boards.

Remain Calm: Solitude and Connectivity in Japanese Architecture is the third iteration of Sharjah Art Foundation’s four-year collaboration with curator Yuko Hasegawa that aims to introduce aspects of Japanese culture to audiences in Sharjah.

Sharjapan 1: The Poetics of Space highlighted book design in Japan through innovative exhibition methods, bringing together typography, page design and photographs combining text and images while Sharjapan 2, titled Inter-Resonance: Inter-Organic, focused on performance and sound-based installations.

This year’s edition of Sharjapan explores ideas that resonate powerfully in these uncertain times when the pandemic has made staying at home the ‘new normal’, while disrupting individual connectivity to an outside world that feels fraught with challenges, risk and unknown possibilities.

Remain Calm is a proposition for a place to contemplate the possibilities of new lifestyles and modes of human existence: to cultivate serenity infused with a richness of thought, to nurture ways of life that are both productive and intellectual, and to understand the choice between isolation, exclusion and connection as a process of negotiation.

To ensure the comfort and safety of our community and adhere to social distancing guidelines, visitors interested in viewing the exhibition should book a slot in advance through our website.

Enhanced sanitation and disinfection will take place between visits in line with recommendations from health authorities. The exhibition is free to attend and open to all. However, booking in advance is highly encouraged.

About Yuko Hasegawa

Yuko Hasegawa is the Director of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa (April 2021–present), Professor in Curatorial Studies at the Graduate School of Global Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts (2016–present) and Artistic Director of Inujima Art House Project (2011–present). She was Artistic Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2016–March 2021).

She has curated numerous exhibitions, including the second Thailand Biennale (2021); rhizomatiks_multiplex (2021) and Olafur Eliasson: Sometimes the river is the bridge (2020), Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Inter-Resonance: Inter-Organics, Japanese Performance and Sound Art, Sharjah Art Foundation (2019–2020); Dumb Type | Actions + Reflections, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2019–2020); Desire: A Revision from the 20th Century to the Digital Age, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2019–2020); Sharjapan: The Poetics of Space, Sharjah Art Foundation (2019); Intimate distance. Masterpieces of the Ishikawa Collection, Montpellier Contemporain, France (2019); Fukami: A Plunge into the Japanese Aesthetic, Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild, Paris (2018); 7th International Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2017); and Sharjah Biennial 11 (2013).

Her publications include the essay A New Ecology and Art: on the Clouds⇄Forests exhibition (Journal of Global Arts Studies and Curatorial Practices vol. 1, Tokyo University of the Arts, 2020); Grotesque and cruel imagery in Japanese gender expression: Nobuyoshi Araki, Makoto Aida and Fuyuko Matsui (The Persistence of Taste: Art, Museums and Everyday Life After Bourdieu, Routledge, 2018); Japanorama: Un Archipel en Perpétuel Changement (Japanorama, Centre Pompidou-Metz Editions, 2017); and Performativity in the Work of Female Japanese Artists in the 1950s–1960s and the 1990s (Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA, 2010).

Hasegawa is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Istanbul Biennial (2017–present) and has previously served on the Advisory Committee of the Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai (2014–2018), and the Asian Art Council at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2008–2012).

Hasegawa has been honoured with Japan Commissioner for Cultural Affairs Award, the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan (2020), the Ordem de Rio Branco, Brazil (2017), and the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France (2015).

She completed a BA in Law from Kyoto University and an MFA in Art History from Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music.

Hasegawa currently lives and works in Tokyo.

Related Articles

Back to top button