Okayama Art Summit 2022, “Do we dream under the same sky”
              Jason Waite
              The main venue for this year’s Okayama Art Summit, directed by Rirkrit Tiravanija, is a 1930s elementary school that has been vacant for the past twenty years. It is therefore surprising to encounter swarms of uniformed middle-school students circulating around the grounds as part of a school trip; then again, an uncanny sense of historical repetition is a hallmark of this edition of the triennial. Take Cambodian artist Vandy Rattana’s “MONOLOGUE Trilogy” (2015–19). This three-screen installation opens an oneiric portal to the lush forests of Kâmpŭchéa, still haunted by the Khmer Rouge’s atrocities. Rattana’s poetic grappling with the loss under that regime of his own sister, whom he never met, unfurls with images of the artist wading through the overgrown landscape, punctuated by slow shots of fantastical rituals invented to establish a connection to the land and its textures. The durational melancholy that results contrasts with the abundance of nonhuman life that fills the frame. An intricately woven cinematic tapestry, “MONOLOGUE Trilogy” decelerates time. Its slow, haunted temporality permeates the rest of the summit. Upstairs, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s installation The Word Silence Is Not Silence (2022) invites viewers into a small room that features two chairs in front of a …
              Okayama Art Summit 2019, “IF THE SNAKE”
              Koichiro Osaka / Jaime Marie Davis
              It’s hard not to acknowledge the ongoing tension surrounding the Aichi Triennale when writing about contemporary art in Japan at the moment. The recent announcement that the government’s Agency for Cultural Affairs has pulled the Triennale’s funding following a controversy over censorship, sparked protest calling into question the validity of public money poured into the cultural sector. The Okayama Art Summit distinguishes itself from this appalling situation—being a private initiative formed by Yasuharu Ishikawa, fashion entrepreneur and art collector, and gallerist Taro Nasu, both from the city. The two partnered with the local municipality to set their agenda and become part of the city’s transforming cultural and architectural landscape with a pleasant distance from local politics. Titled “IF THE SNAKE” and convened by Pierre Huyghe as artistic director, the Okayama Art Summit 2019 is comprised of 18 artists and collaborative projects spread across the city, and set up as a living entity, infinitely in formation through its biological, technological, and economic ties. The exhibition’s conceit is open ended, yet it also evokes the well-known ouroboros symbol of continual life and death cycles, mythologies of awakening, and vitality conjured through renewed ways of seeing. Huyghe positions the singularity of this subject …
              Okayama Art Summit 2016 – “Development”
              Nick Currie
              It’s a sunny autumn day in the small Japanese city of Okayama, and two British men born in the 1960s are conversing about cameras. Liam Gillick and I both own the retro-looking Fujifilm X-Pro1, which we’ve chosen for its impressive price-to-performance ratio. “I’ve used it a lot in my work,” a ruddy-faced, relaxed, and sunglass-wearing Gillick tells me. I show him how I’ve retrofitted mine with Wi-Fi. Gillick—perhaps sensing that we’ll also share an interest in the reassuring Brutalist architecture of our youth—tells me that the Okayama Art Summit I’ve come to review, which he’s spent two years curating, takes place in some very distinguished concrete buildings, several of them designed by local architects and now threatened with redevelopment. This turns out to be the case: the pleasure of my two days in Okayama, map in hand, comes just as much from the exploration of four or five fabulous late modernist buildings as from the art inside them, although that’s very much to my taste. There are also traditional sites: Angela Bulloch’s posters proclaiming the principles of the 2012 UN Rio Earth Summit adorn the walls of an old soy sauce factory, and Jorge Pardo’s miniaturized, simplified Neutra house stands in …

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