CONF Oct 5, 2005

20th Century Japanese Art (CAA Annual Conf.,Boston,22 Feb 06)

Reiko Tomii

Collectivism and Its Repercussions in 20th-Century Japan
Sponsored by Japan Art History Forum

Panel on 20th-century Japanese art
at College Art Association's (CAA) annual conference, Boston

Wednesday, 22 February 2006, 2:30-5:00pm

Chairs: Reiko Tomii, independent scholar, New York; Midori Yoshimoto, New
Jersey City University

Papers (in order of presentation)

1. The Kokuga Society and Taisho-Era Nihonga Reform
John Szostak,
University of British Columbia

2. Art For the War, Art For the Workers
Maki Kaneko, University of East Anglia

3. Takiguchi Shuzo and Jikken Kobo: The New Deal Collectivism of 1950s
Miwako Tezuka, Columbia University

4. Gutai Chain: The Collective Spirit of Individualism in Gutai Art
Ming Tiampo, Carleton University

5. "Ritual" (Gishiki) Performance in 1960s Japan: Zero Dimension and Allies
Kuroda Raiji, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum

Session statement
Collectivism in postwar art has been a lively topic in recent scholarship.
Publications such as Art Tribes (ed. by Achille Bonito Oliva, 2002) and
Collectivism After Modernism (ed. by Blake Stimson and Gregory Sholette,
2006) have illuminated the global scope of artists' collectives. As these
publications suggest, the study of collectivism provide a critical
perspective to understanding the distinctive local developments of
modernity and postmodernity worldwide.

In Japan, throughout the modern and contemporary periods, collectivism has
played an important role in the evolution of Japanese art, both in the
mainstream art world and the vanguard circles. Collectivism itself evolved
over time. The mainstay of Japanese collectivism, "exhibition collectivism"
first helped shape the culture of public display as a modern form of
cultural consumption, driven by numerous bijutsu dantai (art organizations)
that functioned as exhibition societies. As demonstrated in this panel,
exhibition collectivism provided a valuable platform for the vanguard
rebellions (e.g., the prewar Kokuga Society specialized in the
neo-traditionalist medium of Nihonga), as well as the socialization of art
(e.g., the wartime Art Unit for Promoting Munitions Industry). The latter
example prefigured "participatory collectivism" and "grass-roots
collectivism," which increasingly inform the recent practices of
contemporary art that proactively engage ordinary viewers and local
communities. In postwar years, exhibition collectivism gradually shed its
organized character; especially in the 1960s--an age of regional
collectives--vanguard artists explored collectivism's true and critical
potentials in a wider context of global art. Accordingly, collectivism
dramatically shifted its site of operation from the exhibition hall to the
public sphere, as demonstrated in this panel through the examples of Jikken
Kobo/Experimental Workshop, Gutai, and Zero Dimension. A new vanguard
collectivism was markedly collaborative, interventional, and participatory,
echoing a more mobile and performative social formation within a democratic
yet politically volatile society. Many collectives--like Jikken Kobo and
Zero Dimension--pursued alternatives to the modern concepts of singular
authorship and originality in their "collaborative collectivism," while the
tension between collectivism and individualism became a grave issue for
Gutai artists. Zero Dimension brought "interventional collectivism" to its
formal and theoretical extreme in the late 1960s, when its performances were
fueled by political activism.

Preliminary program of CAA's annual conference will be made available later
this month at _

CONF: 20th Century Japanese Art (CAA Annual Conf.,Boston,22 Feb 06). In:, Oct 5, 2005 (accessed May 22, 2024), <>.