After graduating high school in Australia, I went back home in Japan for spending holidays with my family members. With my parents I went on a short trip to Naoshima and Teshima, small islands where I had been longing to visit.
Although it was out of season of this year’s Setouchi Triennale and many events and exhibitions had ended, I could enjoy permanent displays such as Teshima Art Museum, Les Archives du Coeur (by Christian Boltanski) in Teshima, Chichu Art Museum, ANDO MUSEUM and Benesse House Museum in Naoshima.
At many places, there were restrictions on taking photographs so I was unable to capture spaces in museums. First, I wasn’t sure why this regulation was imposed, but when I entered those museums, I realised it was because of maintaining the atmosphere the artists and designers want to communicate. Having no pictures to see afterwards, I felt I should focus on the sensory experience of being in the space instead of the appearance of artworks. The architectural buildings were as important as artworks or objects within buildings, since they enhanced the human relationship with the nature.
Teshima Art Museum was consisted of the walking trail around natural environment and the huge yet simple space made of concrete. While it implied a sense of emptiness, it provided the spiritual, ever-changing quality through water slowly flowing out of countless tiny holes on the well-polished concrete ground. The movement of puddles was something I never had seen before, it was just like a living creature moving towards one direction due to the inclined ground. Groups of puddles merged and separated, sometimes accelerated and slowed down. The large holes on the ceiling formed the building to be connected with the external environment, allowing visitors to listen to the winds, birds tweeting and to see sunlight illuminating water.
Chichu Art Museum was another museum I found inspiring in terms of the meaning of an art space. Designed by Tadao Ando, the building was mainly constructed of concrete underground, which texture and materiality gave a sense of unity with the environment surrounding the museum. I felt that the communication with artists including James Turrell and Walter De Maria must have been essential in designing the individual spaces for exhibiting artworks (mainly installation works), since those spaces had to meet the needs of artists such as the dimensions and the atmosphere they want to create. Most of the artworks were shown with natural light (which I found interesting in regards to conservation of artworks, especially paintings by Claude Monet), which expressed the subtlety and sensitivity of the air.
Many works I saw showed qualities of the avant-garde, which might have confronted my parents, who like traditional paintings more than contemporary works. They told me that they didn’t get intentions of some less appearing sculptures and installations, which I understood but had different perceptions on. It was interesting to discuss about different interpretations of artworks with my parents. It was a short trip (an overnight trip!) but I was really inspired by artworks and the architectural buildings that reinforced the importance of their existence on those islands away from cities.