Since the end of the Second World War, Japan has taken a “scrap-and-build” approach to development, demolishing aging buildings and infrastructure and replacing them with those employing the latest technologies. Behind this method, which alters the urban landscape in short, ten-year cycles, lie a “modern” reverence for technology, economics-first mentality, and desire for efficiency. But the validity of scrap-and-build is now being reexamined, with renewed interest in building renovation over the past two decades a manifestation of this.
The exhibition focuses on the relationship between cities and recycling, via the work of three Japanese artists of burgeoning reputation: Iwasaki Takahiro, who is representing Japan at this year’s Venice Biennale; UJINO, a participant in Yokohama Triennale 2017 scheduled for August this year; and Miyamoto Ryuji, awarded the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon in 2012.
From UJINO’s sound sculpture Vertical Plywood City (2011), which represents an imaginary city by combining plywood and old electrical appliances, to Iwasaki’s sculpture Out of Disorder (2007), consisting of miniature structures made from the threads of towels, clothes etc.; and “Cardboard Houses” (1994-96), a series of photos by Miyamoto showing homeless dwellings made from collected cardboard boxes, constructions made by recycling mundane everyday items may be unstylish, unfashionable, and lacking in rationality, but they certainly don’t lack originality, and are certain to remind us of things often forgotten.