Art Only-in-Japan?

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I took the pictures below during the 29th Design Festa at Tokyo Big Sight on May 16-17, 2009. Design Festa is an international event where artists from all over the world can showcase their creative talent in the field of arts. It is held twice a year, and so far the biggest art event in Asia.

So, what is ART? How would we define it? Is it for everybody? for all ages? or is there certain level of it for a certain group of people?

Do you consider this “art” appropriate for all ages?

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Or is this just art ONLY-IN-JAPAN???


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  1. bwahaha.. naloka akich.. if that is art, i can’t relate..

    Posted May 26, 2009 at 1:09 am | Permalink
  2. Crazy indeed… I wonder how the parents of those kids explain to them what kind of “ART” is this…

    Posted May 26, 2009 at 1:21 am | Permalink
  3. migs

    astig. nice shot here. best pic taken durin the design festa! pretty scary.

    Posted May 26, 2009 at 1:25 am | Permalink
  4. it’s normal for them. they bathe in the ofuro nude with their parents, right?

    Posted May 26, 2009 at 1:32 am | Permalink
  5. Paul Singleton

    Hey Jesslee.

    I just had to comment on these photos.

    I too saw these “artists” at the big sight event, along with several other extremely provocative performance artists.
    I tend to walk around blind to what other people are seeing in the world. At the time I just passed them by and fobbed them off as yet another quirky group of repressed Japanese…..for lack of a better word artists. (As you said what is art?), and I am hardly in a position to judge whether this is art or not.

    At the time I was slightly amused and kept on walking. I didn’t see it the way you captured it.

    I honestly didn’t notice the large groups of minors ogling this graphic sexual display, nor did I notice the large groups of adults (presumably parents) of the minors completely unperturbed by the fact their children were being exposed to this kind of graphic art.

    Not being a parent myself, I guess, I just walk around viewing the world from my own perspective. Your photos are great, and at the same time somewhat disturbing. As some one who would like to be a parent one day, your photos got me thinking….would I take my child to an event like this? Would I cheerfully watch on as my very young children were exposed to such graphic sexual displays.

    My answer is to these questions to myself are unequivocally and unhesitatingly NO!
    Am I old fashioned? am I behind the times?

    I don’t know? What I do know is your photos raised some questions in me about the society in which I intend to bring up my children!
    Is it only in Japan? Yes to some extent I think it is!

    I am hardly a Religious person, but I was raised in a society and by a family that was, in some way bound by a moral code governed by the dominant religion. It is my concern that despite Japans long history of strong spiritual beliefs, these children raised in a in modern Japan by parents of my own generation are devoid of any moral code of ethics.

    Or perhaps it’s just my own Judeo/christian hangups, instilled by own societies laws of moral conduct?
    I am far from morally righteous and see nothing wrong with adults displaying their gold penis’s wherever they and whenever they please……………… long as my children are not exposed to it!

    Great thought provoking photos and commentary Jet.

    Posted May 26, 2009 at 1:41 am | Permalink
  6. loling

    hmmmm….as audacious as it may be, the people who were behind this simply brought out their own version of ‘art’ but certainly i don’t find it amusing especially that there were kids around looking (and i bet they don’t even know what they were looking at…yet) and they certainly made the news by simply showing off their penises (or are those fakes?) and chains…kind of a bondage-thingy and btw, soooo japanese-ish BUT it’s their ‘art’ and i guess there must be some kind of artistic explanation beyond this eye-popping exhibition ;)

    Posted May 26, 2009 at 2:41 am | Permalink
  7. Patricia

    It’s surprising they let minors see this “exhibition” but I guess I forgot how Japan can be. I don’t know..their “members” are pretty big..if it’s the first time those girls see one, who knows how this might influence them. I think some artists just want attention.

    Posted May 26, 2009 at 11:00 am | Permalink
  8. edz

    WHOOAA!!! This is way to much for kids. Parents shouldn’t let their kids see this.

    I’m not saying children shouldn’t be exposed to arts at an early age but parents should have known better. Anyway, it’s I think really with how people were brought up. If the parents of these kids grew up in a society or in a family were such things are common and “natural”, then it would not be a surprise to see them doing the same thing with their kids.

    Posted May 26, 2009 at 12:19 pm | Permalink
  9. This is pretty crazy. I was wondering what those small children are thinking about this. I dont know how my parents would have explained this situation!!

    Love your photography though!

    Posted May 26, 2009 at 5:17 pm | Permalink
  10. Their “art” definitely has shock value. Beyond that, I’m not sure what it has. Not much, IMO. But, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps there were some that were moved by this display. Now, whether they were moved to hit the nearest sex toy shop on the way home, move to retch in the bathroom or moved to tears from boredom, I cannot say. Personally think it’s crap, but that’s just me.

    That being said, I don’t think displays like this are necessarily damaging. It’s when we fabricate a “moral” fabric around our bodies that problems begin to pop up. Native tribes throughout the world seemed to get by just fine w/o clothing for longer than we’ve *had* clothing (point being there are still those that continue this way and I haven’t heard of them being corrupted by it).
    When we fabricate a problem, then is it not our own faults for perpetrating this? How is it that with exposure to things like the Discovery Channel and National Geographic that we still cannot see that issues like this are of our own creation?

    While I think the “art” of this exhibition was dubious at best, I fully support their ability to present it in that fashion. At first I thought about this and thought it on the edge, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was being affected by the Judeo-Christian upbringing that I had. Putting it in my mind objectively, I realized that I don’t have an objection to it.

    Posted May 28, 2009 at 10:54 am | Permalink
  11. ninia

    what can i say? that’s how they view art. in a quite obnoxious way i suppose.. but looking at it really daunted me. goodness gracious! well, people come from different cultures, different points of view, different beliefs… and this is their own way of expressing themselves. i guess it’s how one interprets and understands that kind of art..

    Posted June 4, 2009 at 11:42 am | Permalink
  12. Hi JessLee, great to meet you this evening at #t2p0.
    Some good photos there of the event. I didn’t see those guys but they look pretty wacky.
    I was not sure what to expect when I went. It turned out there was the whole range of designers on show
    from the cutesy pink and cuddly bears to the hard, dark and scary artists, so it does not surprise me there was something like this.

    Is it art ? One of the great philosophical questions of our time. One man’s Art is another man’s obscenity.
    If I had children, would I want them to see that? Not at the age of those children in the photo, but I would say teenagers yes.
    It would certainly provoke some interesting discussion!

    I spotted a cheeky little photo, one of many on this person’s stall.
    Is it porn ? or is it what you interpret it to be?

    Posted June 8, 2009 at 11:45 pm | Permalink