It seems that the appetite for biennial and triennial art exhibitions knows no bounds. From the Yokohama event that started in 2001, to the older events in Gwangju and Shanghai, it seems every local government wants to seize the opportunity to make a little money from art. The theme for the Nagoya-based festival is “Art and Cities” — less than a cutting-edge notion, perhaps. Art has been a largely urban practice for a long time, and with populations in developed nations becoming increasingly urban, it doesn’t look likely to change. The real translation for this, of course, is “Art in our city” with the Triennale attempting to bring visitors to as much of Nagoya as possible. This isn’t all bad, of course. And, while it is focused on the visual arts, there will also be related performance and music aspects around the city.
I’ve mentioned the use of manga in Japanese art in the past, and I’ve also likely mentioned that it is something of a personal bugbear of mine. Not because I have a problem with manga appearing in art or being used by artists, but because I have a problem with its perception outside of Japan. Too often, it becomes a part of that persistent notion that Japan is a country caught between so-called old and new values; that it is a “quirky” place full of quirky people and ideas. These are the stereotypes that are trotted out again and again.