#6 Interview with Keiko Asanuma

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"The world began without human beings, and the world will end without human beings" Akira Takayama

Keiko Asanuma is a professor, art historian and researcher at the University of Hokkaido. While my research in Sapporo revolves around the notion of the future in a broader sense, within Japanese society, it was also indispensable for me knowing some of the coordinates in contemporary Japanese art. By repeating this notion (“Japanese contemporary art”) during my conversation with Keiko, the feeling came back to me that in relation to countries and territories, artistic identity carries a high degree of entelechy. Indeed, when Keiko talked about artistic practices in Japan, many connections with Western art pratices appeared. Therefore it is not a surprise that one of the questions I asked Keiko was if contemporary art is a Western importation to Japan, a subtle form of cultural colonialism. As she said, "art” comes from Europe but it does not mean to be negative.

When referring to the Japanese present-day art practices Keiko coined a term: “countryside locality”. This concept relates to the use of contemporary art as a form of promotion in depopulated areas in Japan, after the general technological euphoria during the decade of the 90s. It was during this time when big companies like NTT or Canon built museums and art centers. However, suspicions against the celebration of technological development is something that Japanese artists started years earlier, precisely because of the Expo’70 in Osaka. This situation made me think how we could understand art as a potential reaction system to the general social standards of their time.











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