“Now it’s time to Play” Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
As we grow up, we have been told ‘stop playing the game, stop playing with toys and your friends’ and else. Even after we grew up, we might repeat the same thing and ask this kind of question ourselves. Such ‘I should stop hanging out with my buddies, I should study harder and work harder.’ this sort of thoughts.
Yes, life has never been easy. It applies to everyone and at all times. Then, when we can have a proper time ‘to play’ and when we can completely enjoy playing with something? Although we surely need a time to carry on work and studies, we shouldn’t underestimate playtime. As Playtime sometimes offers us opportunity to find new values in ourselves and the world.
Then what do you feel about contemporary art? When you go to art museums and galleries, do you feel it as a playtime? Otherwise do you see contemporary art as a hard subject you should study and discover more? Whatever you think about contemporary art, there are some opinions that ‘contemporary art is hard’
Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo is holding an exhibition entitled ‘Now, it’s time to play’. The exhibition was planned for not only children but also adults to let them enjoy ‘playtime’ in contemporary art.
The exhibition features artworks by six artists and artist collectives Yoshiaki Kaihatsu, Kazuhiro Nomura, team Hamburg, Tanotaiga, TOLTA, Usio. Each art work gives audience opportunity to participate like playing a game. When you enter the first exhibition room, one wall is covered with enormous cabinets. In addition to its overwhelming scale, the work catches people’s eyes because the cabinets were transformed into a bouldering climbing wall. While audience may be feel overwhelmed by the work, an opened door of a cabinet is connected to another exhibition room. Although the work seems very fun and humorous, the artist Yoshiaki Kaihatsu says ‘Examination Wall’ is actually supposed to express pressure and stress from competitive entrance examinations.
Another interesting art work was ‘Tanonymous’ by Tanotaiga. Tanonymous is a work which is covering entire walls with numerous masks. A large number of masks based on the expressionless face of the artist are gradually turned into diverse faces by audience from a participatory workshop. During the workshop, people can freely decorate a plain mask by using materials prepared by the museum. Eventually all the various faces will be exhibited as the work of ‘Tanonymous’.
The artist Tanotaiga, basically explores social systems and values in art works and examines the power possessed by mass media and standardized symbols in daily life. The title of the work, ‘Tanoymous’ is a compound word of the artist’s name Tanotaiga and anonymous. Through the work, the artist looks critically at standardized society and an anonymity which is prevalent in contemporary society. Decorating masks in any way audience like, audience eventually become a viewer and also a creator at the same time. It seems that the artist wants to convey his idea through this process where is same faces in the museum gradually change into various faces.
Playing with friends or toys whatever, any type of playing offers us time to recharge, and also children can get emotional and intellectual development. Through the exhibition, the artists are expressing their themes regarding the society, and also the exhibition and the art museum become playground. In the sense that contemporary art could become a playable thing and playground, it can be said it is worth seeing(playing) the exhibition. Audience participation becomes a part of art works, and also in some cases the traces of audience’s playing will remain as part of the art works.
The exhibition “Now it’s time to Play” in Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo” will be held until 20th October, 2019. Along with participatory art works, also there are related programs and workshops where audience can play together with artists. For more details and information: https://www.mot-art-museum.jp/en/exhibitions/time-to-play/
Article written by Jeongeun Jo
Jeongeun Jo is from Korea now living in Japan. She is one of the member of TRiCERA who graduated from Graduate School of Fine Arts at Tokyo University of the Arts (TUA/ Geidai). She is also working as an artist herself.