I just went to see 'Into the Atomic Sunshine' at Hillside Gallery in Daikanyama. For details please read Edan's article in The Japan Times .
I left feeling somewhat awkward. It was not particularly the themes or topics addressed in the project, nor the selected art works that made me feel like this. I have been pondering this. I think what made me feel like this was the abstract level of the exhibition and project. By this I mean that Watanabe Shinya, the curator, chose to move into the domain of war, post-colonialism, pacifism and post-war Japanese art through the filter of a legal document - Article 9 of the Constitution. The exhibition and its explication through symposia and texts seemed largely to spin across quite dense legal and philosophical terrain. In other words, by referring singularly to a constitutional document the project seemed to be limited and refracted by its reliance on belief systems and ideology. I think that my feeling of awkwardness came about because of this. There were almost no works in the exhibition which rested on more personal or experiential episodes. How can a legal document such as Article 9 be experienced today? I wished for a different curatorial layer in the project, one that could perhaps have inverted the state-centric discussions of international politics into a field of personal experiences and matters of the body. For me, a creature like Godzilla, for example, seems to be an attempt to actually map Japan's atomic trauma onto a body - albeit very large and covered in scales - in order to provide a more experientially graspable sense of what are perhaps 'post-human' issues. Atomic Sunshine's curatorial approach rather tended to bring together works which stayed literally close to legal and state-centric readings of the issues - actually incorporating the document in works through text, material, recreation, national symbols etc. You can read more about the project via the curator's website: SpikyArt.