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CULTURE | 12.08.2016

Art Dept: Setouchi Triennale 2016 in Japan

Faster. Ever faster. The pace of modern times is like a daily marathon. How can we escape the overstimulation and fast pace of life? This year’s Setouchi Triennale on the Japanese Seto Islands is made for a retreat of a different kind—nature, art and culture included.

Like many rural areas in Japan the islands in the Seto Inland Sea are challenged by the magical allure of big cities. Declining birth rates and an aging population led to the remote islands being almost forgotten. It wasn’t until 2010 that the Japanese entrepreneur Soichiro Fukutake brought them back to life with the Setouchi Triennale. Since then, every three years, art lovers from around the world gather at this unusual place. Displaying works of art on expressionless, white museum walls was out of the question for Soichiro Fukutake, however. Instead, he spread them on twelve small islands in the Seto Inland Sea, which can be reached only by ferry.

Here you stumble almost by chance upon installations such as the “Red Pumpkin” by Yayoi Kusama, which is located in the port area of the island Naoshima. Other artworks can only be reached by a path through a neighbouring forest and seem to blend effortlessly into their surroundings. The installation by the Japanese artist Haruka Kojin, for instance, is reminiscent of oversized contact lenses that seem to downright soak up the environment. New perspectives open up as soon as a visitor’s viewing angle changes.

The Setouchi Triennale has little in common with a visit at an ordinary museum. Rather, it is like an endless journey of discovery that holds new surprises on every island, far from the stress and noise of the city. Letting yourself drift and forgetting the passing of time for a moment – this is what the Setouchi Triennale specifically welcomes!

The Setouchi Triennale takes place from 18 July to 14 September on the Seto Inland islands in Japan.

The video above shows a brief interview with artist Haruka Koji.