Art in the Mountains

Yamagata Biennale





Every year, there are always art festivals of different scales hosted in various cities in Japan. The most popular ones include Yokohama Triennale and Aichi Triennale in Nagoya that are held in major cities, as well as ART SETOUCHI and Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale that are held on remote islands or in rural area.

The success of ART SETOUCHI has not only attracted countless tourists to the exhibition but also introduced to the world the beauty of the Seto Inland Sea. More importantly, the art festival also brought young residents back to the area that was once facing an aging problem. Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale also has a motive of reminding young people who have left the town for bigger cities to return to their homeland to help to organize the festival and to visit their parents and families.

Many of these art festivals have their own hidden agenda that is unrelated to art. Yamagata Biennale also hopes arts and creativity can help to rejuvenate the prefecture that was adversely struck by the 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku. Unlike other festivals like ART SETOUCHI, Yamagata Biennale does not have hundreds of millions of fundings. Takenori Miyamoto, director of programme of the 2018 festival, said they do not aim at organizing a high profile international art festival; all they target to do is a minimal yet sustainable art festival.

Having “Art in the Mountains” as the theme for the 2018 Yamagata Biennale, the festival stresses on the landscape of Yamagata Prefecture that represent a vastness that is big-hearted, calm and benevolent. The festival will feature works of artist/art director of the festival Ryōji Arai, fashion designer Masahiro Tobita, culinary artist Satoko Kobiyama, etc. During the festival, there will also be various activities including spontaneous creative writing performance, the shadow theatre of Koheisai Kawamura, and poetry concert. Yamagata Biennale may be less international than other exhibitions in Japan, but its programme that is as vast as the mountains will surely be interesting to many.