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My World on April 8, 2005

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: April 8, 2005
Latest Update: April 8, 2005

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The Dark Side of Innocence

I am so excited, not about the dead mouse, but about how a new exhibit of Japanese art fits into all we've been talking about. The Japan Society of New York has planned a workshop on Takashi Murakami's exhibit, "Little Boy: The Arts of Japan's Exploding Subculture, " for high school students this summer in New York. Now, we're not high school students, and most of us can't get to New York, not even for the exhibit itself. But we can use their format to explore what Murakami is trying to say in this exhibit, which he curated, and of which he is the artistic leading figure.

"In Murakami's perspective, a resonant figure for Japan's contemporary condition is that of the "little boy"--both the nickname for the bomb dropped on Hiroshima and an image of Japan's infantalized culture." From Little Boy: The Arts of Japanís Exploding Subculture Japan Society Gallery, Spring 2005. Curated by Takashi Murakami through July 24, 2005.

"Little Boy" was the name given to the atomic bomb we dropped on Hiroshima. How many of us recall that? I didn't. And Murakami has quite a lot to say, both as an artist and as a thinker, about what that incident and its after effects have meant to both us and to Japan. In the name of religion as a present social issue, I ask you to explore what we can of the Japan Society exhibit, of the movement of abstract expressionism it has contributed to in Japan, and even to our local California artist, Yoshitomo Nara, who is a part of that movement. (You can see his work and find books and T-shirts on him at MOCA in downtown L.A.)

I want to explore in our discussion topic this week the interdependence of violence, childlike dependence, sexuality, apocalyptic concerns, violent explosions, all of which are seen in Japanese Neo-Pop art. I would like us to think about comparing the material, only some of which we have access to, in New York's Japan Society exhibit, and the recent discussion we have been having on transform_dom about how we inculcate the values that matter to us in the communities in which we live.

Think about the trial of Michael Jackson, think about the concerns we have with the Catholic Church and sex abuse and pedophilia, think about the issues of rap and hip hop.

Check out the wrapping of the Japan Society building for the Exhibit and see the video at the Japan Society Site. Compare Christo.

On the Battlefield of "Superflat": The Origins of Japanese Neo Pop Lectures Spring 2005. Thursday, May 26, 6:30 pm.

"The cartoons that dominate Japan's media and entertainment industries--which often juxtapose wide-eyed, infantilized figures with themes of atomic explosion and futuristic annihilation/salvation--simultaneously serve to exaggerate, diminish, and provide escape from the darker elements of Japan's postwar period. In grappling with these apparent dissonances, contemporary Japanese artists have created a visual legacy that interrogates and explodes the dualities of innocence and malevolence, victory and defeat, popular culture and high art. In this lecture, Noi Sawaragi, leading art critic and contributor to the Little Boy: The Arts of Japan's Exploding Subculture exhibition catalogue, discusses the cultural and critical meanings of Japanese Neo Pop, placing it within the historical and social contexts of postwar Japan."

From the description of the lecture on the Japan Society site.

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