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Katsuhiko Hibino has towed the art scene ever since he was spotlighted as a university student in the 1980s for his cardboard box creations. In recent years, he has focused on the ability of art audiences to feel and observe, holding workshops all over the country in which he creates works of art in collaboration with the general public. Refusing to limit himself to one method or sphere, he continues to pursue the possibilities of expression. We asked Hibino what he thinks about the relationship between art and the city.
The interesting thing about workshops is that participation is open to anyone, resulting in the collection of a spectrum of customs and personalities. For example, if I work for 100 minutes, and you compared that to 100 people each working for one minute, the volume of work is the same but the results are completely different. The scene that develops is something I could definitely not draw on my own.
After all, art is not simply a physical object. The ability to find something in it, and the power to communicate—I think the give and take between these kinds of feelings leads to art. If we didn’t have the imagination to put ourselves in another person’s shoes, we wouldn’t be able to live in groups. This is the very reason why art is created where people come together. I see it as my role to expand these capabilities and potentials through my workshops and other activities.
Japan lags behind in the sense that it left culture out of the cities. In Japan, the concept of city equals economic center. Culture in the city center is regarded as the norm in New York, London and Paris—to the extent that you sense there wouldn’t be a nation without the culture—but Japan put economics at the center of the city during its rapid post-war development. Essentially, though, a country doesn’t come into existence because GNP figures are high, it comes about because people consciously share the same culture tend to group together. I believe that culture becomes refined in the course of friendly competition by people with many different values who gravitate to the highly populated cities. This problem of culture being left out of the city is one that will probably become an issue for Japan in future.
At the root of my activities is a desire to set up more places and opportunities for people to be conscious of beauty. Of course, works of art are not created without artists, but more importantly, if nobody sees these works, they convey nothing. For example, what do you feel when you look at a picture? Everyone feels something different. A picture is only a canvas with paint on it, but from this everyone reads something different into it, in their own way. If we all recognized that we have this innate imaginative power inside us, I think we’d be able to use this ability to judge in all kinds of everyday situations.
You see, the ability to judge is, in other words, the ability to make discoveries. Take cooking for example, you don’t have to do everything according to the recipe, and if you use green peppers because you don’t have spinach, then a new dish is created. Even if you don’t have all the components, you recognize what you do have and move on. I believe people are equipped with various abilities to judge situations and make choices. I think it’d be great to make more opportunities for people to discover this awareness in themselves.
Born in Gifu City, Hibino attracted notice in the 1980s for a cross-disciplinary style, reflective of the times. In addition to creating works of art, he continues to pursue his self-potential, using his body as a medium of expression in performance works, etc. In recent years, he has focused on the powers of receptivity in observers of art, and energetically expanded his activities to establish practical mechanisms for art to function in society, such as creating joint works with workshop participants from the general public in different regions. Twenty-two districts, from Okinawa to Niigata, are taking part in the Asatte Asagao Project, which has been ongoing since 2003. This year he is overseeing Asian Representatives Japan 2010 at the Asia Base Camp Dazaifu in Kyushu, a project that fuses sport and culture. He is also planning a show featuring images of relics buried on the sea floor in a work entitled Kaitei Tansasen Bijutsukan (A Sea Floor Exploration Ship Art Museum) Ototoimaru at the Setouchi International Art Festival 2010.
In 2003, Hibino took part in the second Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale, an international art festival held in Niigata Prefecture. He established a project called the Asatte Shimbunsha Bunka Jigyobu in the hamlet of Azamihira, part of the city of Tokamachi.
With the aim of facilitating interaction with local residents, he made an abandoned two-story wooden schoolhouse his base, and grew morning glories (“asagao” in Japanese) with the local residents there. One hundred and eighty ropes were attached to the schoolhouse roof, and the entire building became covered in morning glory vines. This is how the still-ongoing Asatte Asagao Project got its roots, so to speak.
Under Hibino’s supervision as art producer for the 150th Anniversary of the Opening of the Port of Yokohama, many citizens sent messages out by handmade boats (“fune” in Japanese) from the port.
For this project, Yokohama residents used cardboard and other materials to build 150 models of actual boats associated with the port’s history.
In this project, Hibino set afloat giant paper lanterns, made by many local volunteers, in barges on the Nagara River in Gifu during the Winter Solstice.
|CATEGORY : Interview||TAG : INTERVIEW,Art Award Tokyo Marunouchi 2010|
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