Berlin Photo Diary

Day 1

Meet up with Biliana, my former collague in NY

Carsten Nicholai's "autoR" at Temporare

Final installation of Temporare by John Bock

Run into Kota Ezawa by chance

Excellent installation by Yinka Shonibare

Berlin Biennale in Kreuzberg
What is waiting out there
by Katrin Rhomberg

and dinner with Shimabuku

Day 2

Installation at Alte Nationalgalerie

Adolph Menzel's Extreme Realism curated by Michael Fried

Studio visit of Kota Ezawa
Kota ordered 1000g Eiswein for lunch!

Berlin Biennale at Kunstwerke
Installation by Petrit Halilaj

Powerful video installation by Mark Boulos

Visiting Tachles

visiting Japanese art exhibition at Bethanien with Manabi Murata

visiting Bunker exhibition with Hannah from Galerie Metro

Installations by art students including some from Olafur Eliasson's class

Beautiful Sunset on the bridge in Kreuzberg

Day 3


Haus der Kulturen der Welt

Visiting Olafur Eliasson's exhibition with Yusaku Imamura

Studio visit of Nina and Torsen Roemer

and cocktail with Shimabuku

Day 4

Visiting Christoph Tannert at Bethanian

With Shiro Masuyama and his friends


Thinking “the other” with foreigners in Tokyo

On Friday, July 16th, I had a lecture called Thinking “the other” - Inside and Outside of the Nation, as a part of CAMP discussion series at Tokyo Wonder Site.

Even though the announcement period was shorter than one week, around 30 people showed up, and the discussion following the lecture became exciting one. Half of the participants are Japanese people who speaks English, and the other half are foreigners; from Australia, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Macedonia, Singapore, United States, Vietnam, etc.

For all of the participants, the ideas of nation and nationalism were different, and the concept of “the other” by Emmanuel Levinas was not well comprehended in historical context. Therefore, first, I talked about the historical background of the birth of the nation, mainly through Napoleonic War, and then talked about the nationalism in modernity and artistic production.

For me, it was challenging to talk about history which is related to Iran and Israel in front of Iranian and Israeli participants. However, through this challenge, I could expand the possibility of exchanging information, if we do not fully share the idea of nations in their sense.

In this lecture, on the issue of nation, I just wanted to avoid the situation that the discussion will be held in Japanese in Japan, and the whole discussion became extremely domestic and nationalistic one. By offering the place where non-Japanese speaking person can join comfortably, I think I could offer the arena of discussing nation and nationalism in Japan for broader participants.

Because of its geographical separation, Japan as a island country had no need to build a strong relationship with surrounding countries, and this situation created Japan conservative, or even nationalistic, and generated lacks of communication with “the other”. To change this situation, everybody needs to work hard to understand the others, and join the community of the world. I would like to keep working hard to make Japan more open country to outside nations.


Lecture: Thinking "the other" - Inside and Outside of the Nation 18:00 - 21:00 Friday, 16 July 2010 in Tokyo

Talk & Discussion Series:
Nationalism and Artistic Production

"Nationalism and Artistic Production" is a series of five talks organized by CAMP with invited curators, artists and thinkers. This is not only an attempt to look at different phenomena of nationalism in Japan - including xenophobia and exclusive nationalism - and various cultural production that enunciates, represents or challenges nationalism. It also aims to contemplate, through discussion, on participants' own sense of nationalism and views on community, identity, and otherness. In order for that, the talk series will explore and analyze what a nation is and how we as subjects relate to a nation, and further reflect on the potential in which artistic production can critically engage with nationalism formed by various kinds of power.

Thinking "the other" - Inside and Outside of the Nation

18:00 - 21:00 Friday, 16 July 2010

[ Speaker ]
Shinya Watanabe (independent curator)
[ Moderator ]
Che Kyongfa (independent curator)

Venue: Tokyo Wonder Site Aoyama: Creator-in-Residence (Map)
Language: English
Admission: Free
Capacity: 30 (Booking Required)
Booking: Send an email with its subject as Thinking "the other" to
, including your name and E-mail address.
Supported by: Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture, Tokyo Wonder Site / Otto Mainzheim Gallery

[ Outline ]
The nation-state and nationalism are complex constructs that have an influence on art making and evaluation of it. The concept of "nation" has been created in the process of modernity, but the recognition of its historical structure is not simple in contemporary society. The aim of this lecture is to clarify the origin of the nations, and its influence on modern and contemporary art making.

Part 1: Inside and Outside of the Nation
The impact of Napoleonic War and the Formation of Yugoslavia
Part 2: Nation and Artistic Production
Pablo Picasso, Tony Shafrazy, Jean Mitchell Basquiat and Brassai
Francisco Franco and Victor Erice's "The Spirit of the Beehive"
Hayao Miyazaki's Anagram of Nations – Totoro, Lupin the III, Poco Rosso and Ponyo
Soseki Natsume and Japanese Modernity
Isamu Noguchi, Kenzo Tange and Li Xianglan
Allgiero Boetti and Juxtaposition
Bruce Lee in Bosnia
Elmgreen and Dragset
Tellervo and Oliver Karlinen
Yukinori Yanagi, Yuken Teruya and Kota Ezawa

Related Books and Writings:
"Totality and Infinity" by Emmanuel Levinas
The Influence of the Nation-State on Art - The Case of the Former Yugoslavian Countries
The Breakaway from the Century of War - Article 9 as the Overcoming of European Modernism
Why Japanese People Hunt Whales? Whale Mound and Shinto Religion in Shinagawa, Tokyo

Related Movies:
"The Spirit of the Beehive" Directed by Victor Erice
"Lupin the III: The Castle of Cagliostro" by Hayao Miyazaki

[ Biography ]
Shinya Watanabe

Born 1980 in Shizuoka, Japan, Shinya Watanabe is an independent curator based in Tokyo/New York. After acquiring his MA at New York University, Watanabe have traveled thirty-six countries mainly as a backpacker, and started to curate contemporary art exhibitions, mainly focusing on the issues of the relationships between nation-state and art. His curatorial exhibition are "Another Expo—Beyond the Nation-States" (White Box, NY, 2005), "Action Painting Street Battle! Ushio Shinohara vs. Ryoga Katsuma" (Ethan Cohen Fine Arts, NY 2006), "Into the Atomic Sunshine — Post-War Art under Japanese Peace Constitution Article 9" (Puffin Room, NY, 2008, Hillside Forum, Tokyo, 2008, Okinawa Prefectural Art Museum, Okinawa, Japan 2009), and "Volcano Lovers - From Iceland and Japan" (Ise Cultural Foundation, NY, 2009-10).

Che Kyongfa
Che Kyongfa is an independent curator based in Tokyo. Her curatorial projects include "Fog Dossier" (2010, Seoul), a collaborative project with the artist Jeuno Kim; a two-year project called "Electric Palm Tree" (2009, Amsterdam & Jakarta), co-curated with Binna Choi and Cosmin Costinas; "Recycled" (2008, Oslo) an exhibition by Oslo-based artist unit Danger Museum; and "OK Video Festival" (2005, Jakarta) co-curated with Jakarta-based artists' initiative Ruangrupa. She also organizes workshops, lectures, and discussions.

Check out this ustream Show: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/notes-on-camp


Picturesque Takamagahara - Ireland and Japan as a Periphery

While I was doing a research on the concept of "Picturesque", I found some interesting descriptions.

As an idea of romantic appreciation of beauty, the concept of "picturesque" was established in England in the 18th century, and at that time, there was a reflection toward modern aesthetics which went too far by rationalism.

A philosopher Edmund Burke who debuted as an esthetician such as discussing the issue of picturesque thought that the experience of appreciating beauty is not simply a rational judgment, but a person's basic instinct. He thought that comparing the "system" which is created as a result of piling up ancestor's wisdom, rational intelligence of human is so small with full of defects.

Through such an aesthetics approach, Burke advocated the foundational danger of overconfidence of Cartesian rationalism and suggested the re-consideration; it will be easy for us to understand this by comparing the continental rationalism (= Cartesian) and British empiricism (= Irish Burke). Moreover, Burke is well known from his denial of French Revolution, and that is because he values not the "Social Contract" proposed by the French Revolution, but the "Fundamental Contract".

One interesting thing is that Masaru Sato, a well known Japanese author nicknamed "Rasputin of the foreign ministry" pointed that Berke's philosophy is similar to the philosophy of "Takamagahara" (translated as the "High Plain of Heaven), Japanese Shinto’s philosophy. As a Christian went through the history and politics of Russia, Masaru Sato became able to acquire this long view.

I think why Irish artists such as James Joyce and Samuel Beckett could bring cultural impacts to the 20th century European continent is that when continental rationalism came to the deadlock, the periphery, from the perspective of Rome, was able to bring the fundamental collapse to the center. Finnegans Wake, Waiting for Godot, Francis Bacon's paintings, etc... These fundamental collapse were well contextualized by the continental rationalism, and I could feel that when I saw the video installation of "Waiting for Godot" performed in Paris, in the corner of the dawn of contemporary art, as the permanent exhibition of ZKM in Karlsruhe.

It is easy to imagine that the tendency of empiricism is stronger than rationalism in these islands, which is located geographically far from of Rome, and the flow of Christianity is comparatively delayed.

Moreover, after the concept of picturesque had been established, compare to the rational, geometrical garden in France, Britain developed British style garden which tries to pursuit the spectacle of the natural beauty, and on that extension, the aesthetics of "Ruins" such as rusty gardens emerged. I think that today’s boom of industrial ruins in Japan might be a picturesque Natural recurrence with modern essence, but I think one of the prototypes of the aesthetics of ruins might be able to find in Ginkakuji temple, the symbol of Higashiyama (literally means east mountain) culture.

Shogun Yoshimasa Ashikaga transferred his royal authority to his infancy son Yoshihisa in 1473, during the harsh battle of Ounin. After the battle end in 1477, he started to create Ginkakuji temple as a retirement house in 1482.

In 1460, about 82,000 people died of hunger only in two months, and Kyoto was such as hell. In this tragic situation in Kyoto, Yoshimasa Ashikaga proceeded the aesthetics called Higashiyama, which is such as zen gardening, paintings, writings, the Japanese poem, the linked poem, the Noh music, flower arrangements, and tea ceremonies; in other words, I think that the culture of wabi-sabi had been created as an empirical aesthetics, and also the beauty of ruins.

In our time of developed media, these themes need to be considered as a transcontinental level, in multilingual arena.