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Japan artist battles museum over works mocking government


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Should be a simple fix... Just needs to tweak the video so that instead of apologizing, Abe is accepting flowers and thank you gifts from the countries it "liberated" during the war, and it should be good to go!

8 ( +11 / -4 )

whats going on in Japan lately, artists asked to remove or modify artworks is unheard of in democratic society. apparently also the complaint was done specifically by someone from the ministry and not just a visitor, in fact no actual visitor has complained.

12 ( +13 / -2 )

whats going on in Japan lately

What's going on is a concerted government-led effort to stifle any and all voices that run counter to the Abe-seiken line.

14 ( +15 / -2 )

Who wants to bet he loses one way or another. Either he takes it down, or something mysterious will happen.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Artistic expression is sacrosanct. The museum wants to tone it down for children but in my opinion it's an insult to their intelligence. Children are more resilient than adults in many respects and toning down artistic expression is a disservice to their education. This should not and cannot be tolerated. There are all sorts of subtle and not so subtle developments in Japan that are quite disturbing. Japan needs to awaken or it just may open its eyes to the sound of heavy boots on the pavement. Alarmist? Maybe, but my relatives and parents from the war generation can see it as well.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Why wasn't an 18+ warning sign enough? Demanding that the work be modified or removed sure seems to cross the line into censorship.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Not suitable for kids?

Yeah sure, seems to me that they are coming up with a ridiculous reason that makes no sense at all in order to hide an outrageous censorship machine driven by an authoritarian government that keeps proving to the world that Japan's democracy is a joke.

7 ( +8 / -2 )

Makoto Aida said the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo told him to yank the pieces from an exhibit that started last week because they were “not suitable”

Yes. Hitler, MussolinI, Stalin and other dictators have done the same thing.

8 ( +10 / -3 )

Aida is famous for his "Dog" series of paintings of sexy nude amputated young girls wearing dog collars. Funny, the government is not censoring those.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Art should never be compromised. Ever.

This isn't the first case like this. In 2014, a controversy surrounded the call for the removal of a 1.5-meter-tall dome, a piece of an exhibition by the association of contemporary sculptors held in February of that year at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum.

The artwork by Katsuhisa Nakagaki, 70, featured messages such as: “Let us call for more intellectual and thoughtful politics by protecting Article 9, acknowledging the folly of paying a pilgrimage to Yasukuni Shrine and thwarting the current administration’s right-wing slant.”

The museum's answer was “As long as it is operated by taxpayer money, the museum is expected to be politically neutral."

An art museum chose to kowtow to complaints at the expense of freedom of expression.

According to the Association of Art Museum Directors and their code of ethics, "Artistic Expression: AAMD's members believe that art museums play a constructive role in society and that art conveys the rich complexity of human experience. AAMD's members champion a breadth of artistic expression and the role that art museums play in exploring diverse artistic perspectives."

Most people don't know how an exhibition is developed. "All exhibitions start with an idea. Maybe the Curator has seen the work of a particular artist that he or she likes, and decides to show that artist’s work. Maybe the Curator has seen a trend in art that they would like to see explored. Or maybe, the Curator has an idea for a central theme for an exhibition. After the Curator decides what the show is about, he or she decides when the exhibition will be on display. Then, he or she starts selecting the work to be included."

See, I don't know how, first off, the work to be displayed was a shock to the museum. They knew what was going to be displayed and as a Contemporary Art museum and a Museum Director, you are to "champion a breadth of artistic expression."

So why did you have a change of heart when someone made a complaint? Why didn't you try to explain "art museums play a constructive role in society and that art conveys the rich complexity of human experience"?

Koji Enami, professor of constitutional law at Waseda University, criticized the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum’s response as an “overreaction..." A member of the museum staff conceded that the freedom of expression would be lost if the museum kowtowed to all the complaints made by the public.

Toshimaru Ogura, professor of social culture studies at the University of Toyama, said self-censorship by the museum could be detrimental to society.

The museum didn't have to choose Aida's work for an exhibition, but they did and they should stand by that choice. Art has offended for centuries, but thank god art usually wins out over censorship.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

People shouldn't act so surprised. This is the same government that recently arrested an artist for making a kayak shaped like her (gasp) vagina.

One can only hope that the left in Japan will finally wake up and begin to fight Japan's steady, slow creep to the right.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Ai Wei Wei is 57

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan needs a localised version of Spitting Images to loosen up the people who think they are the powers that be. Since when did politics become "not suitable" for kids?

1 ( +2 / -2 )

Oh who does Mr. Aida think he's fooling here?

This was a clear and concise Swipe Right in Face at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Riveting & Revolting for a Japanese Citizen.

Dont believe me?

Go ask the nearest Hippie.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )


I suspect I'm the nearest hippie.

I think it's brilliant!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Me too! Best way to do it. Right in their faces while pretending it's not in their faces.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The inability to take criticism is a sign that a society has failed to evolve. Japan is better than that. This is shameful.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

As part of an exhibition for children?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Is that a work of art? Definitely not. The artist should have displayed it on the roadside.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

The government is censoring our art? this country is turning into another Singapore, without the financial appeal or English language proficiency

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Some posters here seem to forget that in Japan junior and senior high school teens are referred to as "children" as well. One of the two art works in question here was actually co-created by such a "child", the junior high school son of Aida Makoto.

From my personal experience I would say that even 5th or 6th grade elementary school kids can develop a deeper interest in politics and are able to understand and discuss complex political topics such as Abenomics and constitutional democracy. To underestimate children's intellectual capacity is one of the gravest mistakes an educator can make.

I agree with the posters who criticize the museum and the curators. If the museum decides to show the art work, but later asks the artist to alter the art work because it doesn't fit the exhibitions theme it makes a fool out of itself.

Unfortunately official requests from local governments, education boards, etc. are rather common in Japan, though usually such "problems" are "solved" without the public even taking notice.

Considering the reaction I believe Aida Makoto's art work has managed to hit the nail right on the head. I would even go so far as to assume that Aida sees the reaction as part of his art work and must be quite happy about how things are developing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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