The recent rise of populism around the world has revealed deep divisions. Further fomented by online discourse, hostility and discord are turning into visible forces that threaten our conversations and sense of safety within the physical world we inhabit. But perhaps “the public” or “the public sphere” may emerge precisely through tireless attempts to observe and overcome this hostility and discord.
Assuming a world where mutual incomprehension persists, we discuss in this forum the potential of the arts to transform societal division into dynamism. Using case studies spanning from the aforementioned Aichi Triennale to both past and future practices at Theater Commons Tokyo, we probe future-oriented agendas from many perspectives. Art criticism, historical sociology, and curatorial practices among others are considered in order to discuss socially engaged art, the viability and limitations of art activism, and other related topics.
Masaaki It (Sociologist, Author of The Historical Sociology of Online Right-Wing)
Hikaru Fujii (Artist)
Chiaki Soma (Curator of Aichi Triennale 2019, Director of Theater Commons Tokyo)
Moderator | Naoya Fujita (Literary Critic)
Since Aichi Triennale 2019, discussions around freedom of expression and the public role of the arts have erupted. What are the next steps for this society exposed to its divisions and discords? As a response to this urgency, TCT’20 hosts a four-session Commons Forum intensive. Under the themes of “Arts and Society,” “Arts and Public,” “Arts and Virtuality,” and “Arts and Politics,” we welcome over 20 panelists from home and abroad for discussions totaling more than 10 hours. Weaving together history and future as well as theory and practice, we hope to emerge with some common ground where we can stop and consider the potential of the arts in overcoming social divisions.
Masaaki Ito, PhD, is a professor in the Faculty of Humanities at Seikei University, where he studies the relationship between social media and social movements. His books include The Historical Sociology of Online Right-Wing: The Underground History of the Heisei Era 1990’s – 2000’s (Seikyusha, 2019), The Media Study on Protest Demonstrations: The Future of the Social Movement Society (Chikuma-Shobo, 2012), Flashmobs: The Intersection of Rituals and Movements (NTT Publishing, 2011), and The Era of Strange Nationalism: Thinking Against Racism (with Yamazaki et al., Iwanami-Shoten, 2015).
Born in 1976, Hikaru Fujii creates video installations that acknowledge and respond to contemporary social problems. Based on the idea that creation of art is closely related to the society and history, his detailed research and fieldwork are questioning the existing systems and frameworks. His latest works explore modern education and social systems in Japan and Asia as well as the role of museums and art galleries.
Representative Director of NPO Arts Commons Tokyo, Art producer. Chiaki was the first Program Director of Festival/Tokyo, Japan’s leading performing arts festival, from 2009-2013, as well as the first Director of Steep Slope Studio in Yokohama from 2006-2010. She served on the Agency for Cultural Affairs’ Culture Council Cultural Policy Subcommittee from 2012-2015. In 2015, she received the Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Since 2016, she has been a Specially Appointed Associate Professor, College of Contemporary Psychology, Body Expression and Cinematic Arts, Graduate School of Contemporary Psychology of Rikkyo University, Tokyo; since 2017, she has served as the chairperson of the Theater Commons Tokyo Executive Committee, as well as its director. She is also involved in theatrical curation for the 2019 edition of the Aichi Triennale.
Naoya Fujita is a critic, as well as a lecturer at Japan Institute of the Moving Image. He was born in Hokkaido in 1983. He received his Masters and Doctorate degrees from the Graduate School of Decision Science and Technology at Tokyo Institute of Technology. His major works include Kyoko-nai sonzai (Fictional Existence), Shin gojira-ron (Theory of Shin Godzilla) (Sakuhinsha), Shinseiki zonbi-ron (21st Century Zombie Theory) (Chikumashobo), and Goraku toshite no enjo posuto torusu jidai no misuteri (Trolling as Entertainment: Mysteries of a Post-Truth Age) (Nan’un-do); edited volumes include Community-Engaged Art Project (Horinouchi Publishing) and Higashinihon daishinsaigo bungaku-ron (Literary Theory after the Great East Japan Earthquake) (Nan’un-do).