Art Award IN THE CUBE 2023: Where Reality Goes? II | Museum of Fine Arts Gifu

Art Award IN THE CUBE 2023, titled “Real no Yukue (Where Reality Goes)”, is an art exhibition that takes place every three years, presenting a list of awarded artists selected by a group of judges, hosted by the Museum of Fine Arts Gifu. This chapter focuses on two of the three exhibition halls. For the first chapter of this study please follow the corresponding link.

As I continue my way down after the first exhibition hall, it’s impossible to miss that colourful thing conspicuously located in the cafe area — a rainbow-coloured semi-transparent bubbly installation created by Okunaka Akihito titled INTER-WORLD / SPHERE: Over the Cube (2023). It was awarded the Judges Prize by two of the judges and once again, it’s not hard to tell why. This visually appealing piece commands attention, it looks like the perfect background for an Instagram post and, its interactive nature lures visitors to step into the installation, immersing themselves in a water bed gazing. An overview, the work intends to explore the dynamic relationship between humans and objects, aiming to evoke a sensory experience beyond the physical, questioning the present reality in the Anthropocene era. By using air, water, and light as materials, the installation symbolises our deep connection to these elements and prompts reflection on the trajectory of our reality, diversity, and the environment’s fragility.

Very ambitious, perhaps a bit too ambitious.

A tad farfetched, I thought, there lies a certain disparity between the realised work and the initial concept, the metaphysical dynamism within a social philosophical framework that the artist is hoping to investigate is being severely diluted in its manifestation. Though intriguing nonetheless, the work’s single-dimensionality may not fully embody the intricacies and philosophical foundations originally envisioned. Standing on the production side, I also wonder whether the work would thrive better in an outdoor setting, embracing the natural light and the museum’s surrounding greeneries.

Moving onto the final section of the exhibition, as stated in the previous chapter, most of the actions here do not simply take place inside the cube, some of the works take physical shape of the actual cube. Possibly my favourite piece of them all, is a massive Amazon carton cut into half moulded into a cube lying sideways on the floor. The work is titled, you guessed it, Online Shopping (2023), created by Jun Kitagawa, an Aichi-born artist. As the visitor enters the carton box, you become the merchandise, this shrink-wrapped object without life waiting to be unboxed. Lighthearted and playful, an exceedingly straightforward concept aiming to seize the spirit of our contemporary zeitgeist, what’s not to love.

Overall, this year’s AAIC was a delightful and easily navigable event, incorporating a diverse range of art forms and -isms. It is worth noting that the age diversity among the artists, with the youngest being born in 2006 and the eldest in 1955, this entails a wide array of artistic perspectives, as an audience, is also a rare sight to witness and a definite plus, I mean, at the end of the day, realities differ among individuals right?

The theme of the award this year revolves around the concept of ‘reality’, an undeniably resonant outcome stemming from the pandemic. When I read the curatorial statement I was without a shadow of a doubt, intrigued, even though it did leave a few question marks. Primarily because, well everyone’s reality varies, also the personal, and I dare say the collective pandemic experience here in Japan, vastly contrasts from the rest of the world. As a nation, the Japanese citizens have displayed an exceptional inclination to adhere to orders or recommendations issued by the high-ups. The requirement to wear masks, for instance, was readily adopted, partly due to the already ingrained habit for many, owing to the severity of pollen allergies and the social etiquette it encompasses, which in many ways, this compliance, has been no less than wonderful. And as far as I have seen and heard, Japan hasn’t suffered to the same extent as many other places, a serious lockdown was never really imposed either. Either way, in this post-pandemic era, it is beyond doubt that our way of life and mindset, as well as the society as a whole have undergone a drastic transformation, pushing our generation towards somewhere obscure.

Editor & Study: Axel Wang

Photography & Design: Axel Wang

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