Sunday, March 20, 2011

Can This Sculpture From Japan Still Mean The Same?

[Previous: Japanese Artists Said to be Uninjured]

In this earlier post-earthquake and tsunami post, Thoughts, Hopes With Japan, we wrote in part:
...The list of those artists is on the museum's home page, along with images of the artists' works -- some of which appear particularly more poignant in light of cataclysmic events....

The image from the forthcoming TAM exhibition, Gateway Japan that most clearly fits the above description is the sculpture by Akihiro Yasugi. That image is reproduced here in this post.

Yasugi is one of the Japanese artists affiliated with Yuko Wakaume, co-curator of the Gateway show. Yasugi was originally scheduled to come to Torrance to attend the opening reception. Our understanding through TAM is that's still anticipated to happen.

We asked TAM director and curator Max Presneill if, post disaster, he reads any of the pieces by Japanese artists in the show differently now than he did previously.

Yes, Presneill said, citing Yasugi's piece and Akira Shikiya's 'climbing men' piece as two primary examples. Presneill is an artist as well as a museum professional, and that informs the cautioning that he then provided.

Feel whatever you feel, Presneill essentially said, regarding any work of art. But don't mistake pathos or any observation or emotion drawn from current events or otherwise for the original intent of the artist.

"We can look at this in the light of events," Presneill said, "and that can affect how we see the work. But this is all in retrospect -- to assume that onto a work is unfair."

Or: "If the artist wasn't talking about earthquakes, then its an invention by us."

And: "That interpretation would be about our needs."

Image via Torrance Art Museum web site