Roppongi Crossing 2013: Out of Doubt

One of the most forward-thinking Japanese art institutions, Mori Art Museum, holds its 4th triennial showcase of contemporary Japanese art, Roppongi Crossing. This year's exhibition, Roppongi Crossing 2013: Out of Doubt, is an attempt to trace core value shifting effects of 3/11 on the local art scene and link them to the post-WWII Japanese avant-garde. As is often the case with Japanese art, the works tend to be trivial and overly decorative even when it comes to matters of life-and-death, nonetheless, there are still a few that punch well above their weight. Gripping Takashi Arai's daguerreotypes, picturing the aftermaths of nuclear disasters from the first atomic test in 1945 to snapshots of Fukushima surroundings, momentous Hiroshi Nakamura's reportage paintings, Genpei Akasegawa's political comics and graphic Sachiko Kazama's woodblock prints make you rethink once more the outcomes of post-Imperial Japan–U.S. alliance, while Yukinori Yanagi's works take on the broader globalization issues.

Of course, no exhibition can answer where contemporary Japanese art is at, but as one of the curators of the exhibition, Reuben Keegan, accurately observes: “perhaps the question we should be asking is not, after all, what Japanese art is or was. Perhaps what we should be asking is what Japanese art can be. Perhaps we should be asking what Japanese art can do.” And, on a larger scale—“What can Japan be? What can Japan do?”

In the light of the ongoing Fukushima tragedy and upcoming Tokyo Olympics, with its many highly questionable decisions on the future of Tokyo, the timing of “Roppongi Crossing 2013: Out of Doubt” couldn't be better. Through January 13th.

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