Art and the body: The Tatsuno Art Project


  • Akiko Kasuya


body in art, Japanese art and culture, transcultural aesthetics, contemporary art, town as a museum, community based art project


The author discusses the relationship between art and the body, as exemplified by the similarities and differences in the works of: two Japanese artists, Matsui Chie (b. 1960) and Higashikage Tomohiro (b. 1978); and the Polish artist, Mirosław Bałka (b. 1958). These examples are referred to in the context of a unique project recently conducted in Japan — the Tatsuno Art Project 2013. Held with the support of the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan, the project aims to present contemporary art to people from across Japan and around the globe, and to capitalize on the region’s unique cultural heritage, creating opportunities for people to communicate with local residents and making Tatsuno a more dynamic and popular place to visit. This paper considers various connections between art and the body by focusing on a selection of works included in the Tatsuno Art Project 2013: Arts and Memories. Known in past centuries as the ‘little Kyoto’ of Harima Province, Tatsuno is an atmospheric old castle town. It is mild and relatively warm all year round, with the climate of the nearby Seto Inland Sea region, said to be similar to that of the Mediterranean. Thanks to the support of numerous people, the organizers were able to hold the 2013 event which represented the culmination of their efforts over the past few years, being the largest ever in terms of scale with nine invited artists, eleven other participating artists, and one contemporary musician, for a total of 21 creators contributing works. With new spaces added to create a total of 16 venues, the community-wide project truly achieved its goal of presenting the ‘historic castle town as a museum’. The project curators were also able to strengthen Tatsuno’s international ties by inviting artists from France and Poland to take part, as well as Japanese artists residing in the UK and Spain.