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  2nd ECHIGO-TSUMARI Art Triennial
July 20- September 7. Echigo-Tsumari area. Japan.2003
   

Places:
Tokamachi City, Kawanishi Town, Tsunan Town, Nakasato Village, Matsudai Town, Matsunoyama Town

Organized by:
Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial Executive Committee

General Director:
Fram Kitagawa (art director)

Art Advisors:
Hou Hanru (curator/Ch)
Rosa Martinez (curator/Sp)
Tom Finkelpearl (curator/USA)
Yusuke Nakahara (art critic/Jp)

Participating artists: about 150 artists from 23 countries.

Oficial website:
http://www.echigo-tsumari.jp

The Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial is a natural-setting festival for nature, art and human beings, which takes place every three years in six municipalities of Echigo-Tsumari.
The six municipalities launched the Echigo-Tsumari Art Necklace Project seven years ago, in partnership with Niigata Prefecture, to revitalize the region by taking advantage of its characteristics; they held the first festival of the Triennial in 2000. The Art Necklace Project is an enterprise designed to make use of art and plants in public projects such as the construction of roads, parks and cottages. The Triennial is a three-yearly presentation of the progress of this project that is held along with local traditional festivities. It was conceived with the firm belief that the landscape and the life of the people, both of which have been fostered with the blessing of nature since 5000 years ago, and the long relationship with the earth through agriculture are the most precious treasures of this region.
The artists discovered in Tsumari various features: namely heavy snow that covers the earth for half a year, farming during the rest of the year, people's wisdom and warmth of heart brought about by such hardships, beautiful, ephemeral and strong nature and cooperation among the communities. The artists turned their discoveries into works of art in collaboration with local residents. Spread over an extensive rural setting, the artistic works that stood in front of the rice plants, whose colors changed everyday in fertile summer, allured many visitors. Some visitors complained about it being "too hot","too large" or "too far to walk", but they said it was "interesting" and they enjoyed their experiences using their five senses. The natural canvas appeared as though illuminated by art.
The first Triennial witnessed a great number of supporters who participated from outside of the region, in particular a young volunteer group named Kohebi-tai. It showed future possibilities in that regions could be promoted through cooperation or people networking, which crosses regions, generations and disciplines.


Features of the 2nd Triennial
For the second festival, artists are creating their works in terraced rice paddies, hamlets, the city areas and parks, and beside ponds and roads. The works are scattered over more than 50 areas at the communities' request. Many artists are using traditional materials and methods, including kimono, farming tools and yukigakoi, a device for protecting a plant from snow. A great number of workshops have been held so far. The artists have been involved with the communities more profoundly than during the first triennial.
For this festival, a short video competition was organized. It is expected to expose how international artists understand Tsumari, a depopulated, mountainous and agricultural region and how they confront the crisis in the global environment. The winning works will be shown at everyday places such as waiting rooms, meeting places and restaurants.
In addition to 150 permanent and temporary works and 40 video works, several exhibitions are scheduled: a contemporary Aboriginal art exhibition from Australia, an Inuit textile exhibition from Canada and two local exhibitions on Jomon and Akiyamago. The exhibitions on indigenous arts, which have been adopted from ancient times and are being reevaluated as contemporary, will provide us with many ideas. Along with the exhibits on Jomon, Matagi (hunting) and agrarian culture, they will tell us about the relationships between the earth, human beings and art.
The Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial is supported by many countries. The Netherlands presents "Real Lear", a play performed by Tsumari's elderly people in collaboration with Dutch artists. We sincerely appreciate countries' funding of the Triennial. Also, this triennial is characterized by the deep involvement of the aged and children. The 2003 summer in Tsumari is full of works of art, including the existing works created at the last Triennial, exhibitions, summer festivals and events.
Lastly, I am pleased to announce that Echigo-Tsumari Art Necklace has finally begun in full-scale with the completion of the three Stages. The Stages are planned to be the basis for the long-term vision of Art Necklace with the aim of rediscovering regional treasures with the help of artists and trying for independence through collaboration with artists. The Snow-Land Agrarian Culture Center in Matsudai Town will be managed focusing on land. The Museum of Natural Science in Matsunoyama Town will show prospects for preserving the region through ecological research. The concept of the Echigo-Tsumari Exchange Center in Tokamachi City is the exchange of products and information outside a mass consumer society.

Prospects for the Future
We have come to understand, over the six years we have been working on the Triennials, that although the 20th century was the age of cities, Japan and the rest of the world could not be developed only through urbanization; we now realized how important it is to review local properties deeply connected to nature and to encourage exchanges between the countryside and the cities, along with collaboration of people beyond areas, generations and genres. With the theme "Human Beings as Part of Nature", we wish to further exchanges between the countryside and the cities.
Art has worked as a tie between nature and human beings since ancient times. Art connects people to people. Please come to Tsumari in the summer. Walk around there and feel this connection.

Fram Kitagawa
General Director