At Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art (MIMOCA), the exhibition “The Window: A Journey of Art and Architecture through Windows” is being held from October 13 (Tuesday), 2020 to January 11 (Monday, national holiday), 2021. Among exhibition participants is the Xijing Men, a project-based collaborative team of a Japanese, a Chinese, and a Korean. The MIMOCA magazine presents in two parts an interview with one of its members, Tsuyoshi Ozawa. In this second part, I ask him about the Xijing Men team’s work shown in the exhibition.
Interviewer and text: Chisai Fujita, art writer
Photography: Shintaro Miyawaki
Scene of Chapter 3: Welcome to Xijing--Xijing Immigration Service (work in progress)
Fujita: As one is calmly progressing through the exhibition enjoying the paintings and photographs, the Xijing Men's work Chapter 3: Welcome to Xijing--Xijing Immigration Service suddenly appears before you. What is the concept behind this work?
Ozawa: We created Chapter 3: Welcome to Xijing--Xijing Immigration Service to show at the Gwangju Biennale in Korea in 2012. For me, a Japanese, 2012 was the year after the Great East Japan Earthquake. We were having nuclear problems and I was doubting whether I should continue to live in Japan. The other two members, too, because of political and various other problems, were thinking of leaving their respective countries. So, we were vaguely wondering, "Where are we going?" This work was born from our imaginings at that time.
Fujita: The work has a video that shows your families, too, doesn't it?
Ozawa: The Xijing Men is a group not just with relationships among its three members from Japan, China, and Korea but solid interactions among our families as well. For more than ten years now, we have enjoyed producing works--no conflicting interests among us and often getting family members involved.
The video in the work is titled "The Families of the Three Xijing Men Members Get Together." It shows the three families from different countries as well as their differences.
I'd like the viewer to see how it is possible to enjoy interaction with others across national boundaries.
Chapter 3: Welcome to Xijing; Xijing Olympics, 2008
Fujita: The work was shown at several exhibitions. Last year, too, it was displayed at "The Window: A Journey of Art and Architecture through Windows" held at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.
Ozawa: Yes. The curators of that exhibition probably considered "window" not only in its narrow sense--the windows of a house or building--but also in a broader sense as in the "windows" that connect to society.
In that exhibition there was only a one-way route for viewing the exhibits,and therefore, the visitors had to pass through the Xijing Men's work; otherwise they could not proceed to the next gallery. I thought it was interesting that we created something like a "window" through which people had to pass.
Fujita: And "The Window: A Journey of Art and Architecture through Windows" exhibition is now being held at Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art (MIMOCA). How has the way people see your work and react to it been changing, in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic?
Ozawa: Now [as of October 2020 when this interview took place] it is still difficult to move from one country to another. Many countries and municipalities have imposed lockdown and other measures restricting people's activities.
In this situation, our work in this exhibition seems to represent "window" separating inside and outside, or border, or waypoint. At the site of this work, you can pass through it if you show a person in charge either "a bright smile or a hearty laugh," or "sing part of your favorite song," or "a charming dance." In thissituation, some people may not be able to pass.
Fujita: Not be able to pass!?
Ozawa: An exhibition site is supposed to be a place where you are able to see works on display feeling perfectly safe. At such a place, a completely different perspective, a totally different way of participation, is required of you by Chapter 3: Welcome to Xijing--Xijing Immigration Service.
I produce works of art thinking that people see them from their different perspectives. Still, this work may seem out of the blue. It has the same effect you would feel if you were walking normally when your leg pops out of joint, or a completely different way of looking at things is suddenly forced upon you--it is a good stimulation, I think. That is precisely what life is like.
Reproduction of photos from within this post is prohibited.