What's going on around the globe
Tokyo's governor Shintaro Ishihara doesn't like using public money to fund what he calls 'academic exhibitions' that provoke chin-scratching but little cultural enlightenment. He slashed the city's Museum of Contemporary Art's exhibit budget to zero and demanded that future shows be run like businesses. Attract visitors or die, seemed to be the message.
What would he make of Space For Your Future, an exhibition of 34 artists, designers and architects engaging in a 'dialogue of the future' with visitors? Subtitled Recombining the DNA of Art and Design, the exhibition casts off old, hierarchical rules and encourages multidisciplinary practices, says chief curator Yoko Hasegawa, who imagines the result as 'incendiary' and 'provocative' creativity.
One of the featured artists, Carsten Nicolai, is famous for exploring boundaries between art and science. Last seen in Japan touring with musical icon Ryuichi Sakamoto, Nicolai has lent his 2006 video installation Fades to the show.
The highbrow light show features Nicolai's trademark synchronised sound and light, in this case a beam that moves inside a grey space filled with fog. The East-German-born artist told the Yomiuri newspaper that the exhibit conceptualises the future. 'We cannot define, we cannot imagine what it would look like.'
More fun visually are the corporeal sculptures by Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto, which look like life-sized bouncy marshmallows. Made of stretch fabric, the sculptures can be touched and worn so that they appear to fuse with the human body. But these are not just toys, warns Neto, who believes that people reach another level of experience when they climb inside his organic bodies. It's all about our relationship with space.
Which may remind us of the great Captain James T. Kirk, who famously intoned that space is the 'final frontier'. Possibly the young Kengo Kito was a Star Trek fan. He tries to transform space into 'a character, a picture' with his giant exhibit, Starburst Galaxy, of colourful plastic liquid-filled hoses.
Says Kito: 'The artwork evokes the image of cosmic explosions and the subsequent birth of new stars, as in a starburst galaxy - phenomena that continually occur in the Milky Way.'
Has it made money? Thankfully, sponsorship has been strong and the museum says the exhibit has attracted 20,000 people since opening more than six weeks ago, roughly on target. Safe from the man in City Hall, at least for now.
Space for your Future runs at Tokyo's Museum of Contemporary Art until Jan 20, 2008