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Curator Maki Nishida ArtistGaku Kurokawa

On-site & Online Sculpture Project:
Voices of Kamegame (Tokoname Jars)

View the project

  • Sound of Kamegame
    The sound of the jars is live-streamed from the exhibition venue throughout the duration of the show (The streaming has ended. Currently archived sound is available).

  • Video Recording of the Concert for Kamegame
    A video recording of the concert held on February 28th (Sun).

  • Exhibition views Voices of Kamegame (Tokoname Jars)
    Art Lab Aichi
    February 26th (Fri)–March 28th (Sun), 2021 (Open: Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
    Photo: Tomoya Miura

  • Accounts of Kamegame (PDF)
    Information on the jars on display.

  • Concert for Kamegame
    Live-streamed on February 28th (Sun) 17:30–19:00.
    Performers: Akibinoooooooooooorchestra, Yoko Ayabe, Gaku Kurokawa

Watch the concept movie

About the project

Giant jars had been produced in Tokoname for a long time and used in a wide variety of scenes, from water jars to sound equipment and fuel tanks. Having finished their practical life, they sleep quietly in the city’s streets and museums. Their overwhelming physical volume is directly connected to the huge voids within them. The voids not only remind us of the void that suddenly appeared in our lives during the coronavirus pandemic, but they also seem to respond to the various voids that all of us have in our minds and bodies.
In this project, giant jars and earthen pipes owned by Tokoname Tounomori Museum (Tokoname, Aichi Prefecture) are brought to Art Lab Aichi (Nagoya), where the original tile decorations of Tokoname ware from before WWII still exist, and a sound installation that approaches numerous voids we face through the “voices” of the jars is presented on-site and online.

Project credits

Curator: Maki Nishida

Artist: Gaku Kurokawa

Exhibition

Installation director: Kazumasa Aoki (Miracle Factory)
Team: Tomoyuki Mizuguchi, Yuji Kinoshita
Assistant: Shogo Yamamoto, Yuya Chujo, Jun Nakane, Kei Narita, Rioka Hayashi

Concert

Performers: Akibinoooooooooooorchestra, Yoko Ayabe, Gaku Kurokawa

Video direction: Daisuke Yamashiro

Cameraman: Ryohei Tomita

Cooperation: Yasuhiro Oguri (Tokoname Tounomori Museum), Kazunobu Sato (Aichi Prefectural Ceramic Museum), Yoshino Tachibana (INAX MUSEUMS)

On-Site

Exhibition Voices of Kamegame (Tokoname Jars)

February 26th (Fri)–March 28th (Sun), 2021 (Open: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, National Holidays)

Notice: Closed on February 28th (Sun) due to the concert.


Art Lab Aichi
The Aichi Prefectural Government Otsubashi Office 2F–3F
Marunouchi 3-4-13, Naka-ku, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture
Opening hours: 11:00–19:00
http://aichitriennale.jp/ala/

*The contents may be changed or discontinued due to reasons including the spread of novel coronavirus infection.
*To visit the Art Lab Aichi, please follow the guidelines issued by the center for controlling the spread of new coronavirus (COVID-19).

Curator’s comment

The coronavirus pandemic. The era “without touching.”

Under the current conditions, we are not at liberty to touch things, not to mention each other. When we go out to shop, for example, being unable to touch anything means we must resort to estimating everything from the hardness of cucumbers to the fullness of watermelons or pumpkins, the weight and feel of ceramics on hands, and the texture of fabrics by reconciling their looks with our memories from the past of their touch, without actually touching them.

Aichi is known for craftsmanship and has been producing numerous items used in everyday life, from pottery to fabric, stamps, cooking stoves, and automobiles. Living in the region reminds me of the graveness of the situation even more.

I have always been amazed by the shape of a kanji character 触 (to touch). A horn (角) of an insect (虫). That would be feelers, for insects, which are a device for feeling out all things without direct contact. But, for us humans to “touch (触)” something, we solely rely on tactile sense through our hands, which is very corporal and substantial.

Our current life “without touching,” however, seems to urge us to sharpen, day by day, the unknown sensation that exists somewhere between human’s tactile sense and insect’s feelers and nurture the mode, and potential, of “touching” that is somewhat different from what we have known. When we do so, there lies, without fail, the power of imagination. Imagination — an eternal partner of art.

As such, I decided to re-explore, through the perspective and method of art, the idea of touching when not touching by referencing the item that has been produced by hands in the region since old times. I set out on the venture with the artist Gaku Kurokawa, who has always worked with the question of “touching” in the back of his mind, as my partner.

I decided to focus on the giant jars and earthen pipes which have been traditionally produced in Tokoname. The former flagship products of the city had been, for a long time, shipped from the coast of Tokoname and used in various scenes from household water jars to acoustic devices at temples and theater stages and fuel tanks in wartime. They have now ended their practical life and lay quietly on the streets and in museums as a symbol of Tokoname’s pottery industry. In the current time when everyone is facing the void that suddenly appeared in our lives, the materiality of the jars, which were destined to have a large body in order to secure the space inside as a container, pressure those who stand in front of them with an eerie weight.

The voids of jars lying idle all over Tokoname, the sound that keeps echoing inside them, and the void that exists in our minds and bodies. Through working with the above, Kurokawa presents, in the space inside the Art Lab Aichi, an installation in which visual, sound, static exhibition, and performance are overlaid and interact with each other. It also is a ground for testing whether on-site and online could overcome the issues of dominance and of main vs. by-product, and become independent experiences of art.

Precisely because now is the moment when the unknown sensation — floating somewhere between human’s tactile sense and insect’s feelers — is sprouting inside many of us.

Artist’s comment

Thinking of the Tokoname jars that have stood quietly in the open of the city
(Or, wishing that they will continue to exist as they do)

The sight of the gigantic bodies standing in ordinary places of the city gave me a peculiar feeling.
Round and soft, each with its unique deformation. The heaviness of thick ceramics. Looking at the texture on the surface, I could easily imagine that the jars had been exposed to an extremely high temperature in a kiln. Moving in closer, viewing them from afar, and touching them with hands, I felt as if being sucked into their mouths.

What is it like inside them?
Sticking my head inside one of the jars, I found a completely different acoustic space where the sound of the surroundings was echoing on the ceramics’ interior surface. The sound, which would continually resonate while altering ever so slightly, began to resemble a sigh, or a whisper, of a jar.
How much time have the jars spent looking like this? What kind of sounds have they heard resonating inside them? To place my body in a microcosm that spreads in the darkness, and to expand my imagination, I must hold my breath so that its noise wouldn’t be a disturbance and listen to the jars intently.

The giant jars of Tokoname are no longer in use. And, some of them are said to have been abandoned before they were ever used. I found that the sight of a number of contentless large vessels standing still throughout the city was something incredibly precious. Next to the everyday lives of individuals exist, eternally and without purpose, empty containers. How many people could imagine, I wonder, that dark voids exist right next to them?

For this project, we deliberately (and by taking quite a lot of trouble) moved the void-containing jars to Nagoya. While the idea of “touching” is the project’s core theme, there is no opportunity to physically touch the jars on-site (exhibition) or online.
Nevertheless, I hope to confirm, once again, that we are capable of imagining and listening to the world that unfolds inside the jars without touching them with our hands and bodies.

Curator’s profile

Maki Nishida

Nishida graduated from the Department of Art History and Aesthetics, Faculty of Letters at Keio University. She earned an MA in History of Art at University College London. Since moving to the UK in 2007, she has worked in the art industry for various organizations in public and private sectors such as art university, museums, and galleries. She relocated back to Japan to serve as an assistant curator for AICHI TRIENNALE 2016 and has been working on curation, writing, and research in Japan and overseas. Her recent curatorial works include Dai-Kyoto in Maizuru (Kyoto, 2017) and On Line Dot (Devi Art Foundation + The Japan Foundation New Delhi, New Delhi, India, 2017), and her recent research positions include Visions of the City — Obayashi Foundation Research Program (2019–20) and Tabakalera Curatorial Residency (San Sebastian, Spain, 2016).

Artist’s
profile

Gaku Kurokawa

Born in Shimane Prefecture in 1994. Kurokawa graduated from the Department of Musical Creativity and the Environment, Faculty of Music at the Tokyo University of the Arts in 2016 and from the Department of Sculpture, the Graduate School of Arts at the Kyoto City University of Arts in 2018. He focuses on the relationship between things, the environment, and bodies, creating works of sculpture, performance, music, etc. His recent exhibitions include And, that will become soil (Nara Machiya Arts Festival HANARART 2020) (former Kometani residence, Nara, 2020), New Mutation #3 (Kyoto Art Center, 2020), Kyogei transmit program 2019 (Kyoto City University of Arts Art Gallery @KCUA, 2019).

Associated facilities/
places

Tokoname Tounomori

Tokoname Tounomori

The facility functions as the hub for the creation and communication of pottery culture and for research and training of the ceramic industry and art. It is also the place for promoting and passing down Tokoname ware. It includes a museum, a ceramic art laboratory, and a training workshop that exhibit the old Tokoname giant jars from the Heian period (794–1185), as well as the works by the master craftsmen from the Edo period (1603–1868) to the present.
4-203 Segicho, Tokoname
http://www.tokoname-tounomori.jp/en/index.html

Aichi Prefectural Ceramic Museum

Aichi Prefectural Ceramic Museum

The museum was established in 1978 in Seto, Aichi Prefecture, Japan’s largest site of ceramic industry, to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the prefectural government. It introduces various pottery from around the world including Japan and Asia.
234 Minamiyamaguchi-cho, Seto
https://www.pref.aichi.jp/touji/english/index.html/

Art Lab Aichi

Art Lab Aichi

The art center conducts cutting-edge art activities through exhibitions and various programs and collects and communicates information to encourage the development of culture and art, introduce culture and art into daily life, and enhance the charm of the region.
The Aichi Prefectural Government Otsubashi Office 2F–3F, Marunouchi 3-4-13, Naka-ku, Nagoya
https://aichitriennale.jp/ala/index.html

Photo: Tomoya Miura