Tokamachi City, Kawanishi Town, Tsunan Town, Nakasato Village, Matsudai
Town, Matsunoyama Town
Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial Executive Committee
Fram Kitagawa (art director)
Hou Hanru (curator/Ch)
Rosa Martinez (curator/Sp)
Tom Finkelpearl (curator/USA)
Yusuke Nakahara (art critic/Jp)
Participating artists: about 150 artists from
Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial is a natural-setting festival for nature,
art and human beings, which takes place every three years in six municipalities
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.