The Japan Foundation, New York
In 2008, the Japan Foundation, New York, and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) co-hosted the U.S.-Japan Curatorial Exchange Project. In late June, three curators from MoMA - Cornelia H. Butler, the Robert Lehman Foundation Chief Curator of Drawings; Roxana Marcoci, Assistant Curator, Department of Photograph; and Sarah Suzuki, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Prints and Illustrated Books - visited Japan for the first time to enhance their understandings of Japanese contemporary art by interacting with artists, curators, and art experts around the country.
In return, four curators of modern and contemporary art in Japan were invited to MoMa for the public symposium "Postwar Japanese Art" on November 13. Fumihiko Sumitomo, Senior Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, gave an overview of the avant-garde art movement in Japan in the 1950s through 1970s. He was followed by Michiko Kasahara, Chief Curator, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, who discussed the change of the social status and self-consciousness of Japanese women expressed in contemporary art. Dr. Midori Matsui, independent curator and scholar, described the progress of Japanese "pop" art by focusing on a group of artists. Akira Tatehata, Director, National Museum of Art, Osaka, focused on a conceptual artist, On Kawara, to consider the issue of identity of Japanese artists living in the globalizing world.
It was unfortunately raining that day, but the theater in MoMA where the event was held was packed to capacity and several people had to stand. The audience consisted of people from a wide range of fields: curators from MoMA and other museums; Japanese studies experts and art historians; critics and journalists; representatives of art support organizations; art lovers and art students; and art gallery owners. They all enthusiastically listened to the presentations of four panelists.
Here are some of feedbacks from the audience: "That was an intellectually stimulating symposium." "I had known some Japanese contemporary artists by name, but this event gave me a clue to understand how revolutionary the works by these artists were in the history of Japanese art."
Curators are producers of art exhibitions. The Japan Foundation is striving to provide opportunities of quality international collaborations and to contribute to fosterleaders of cultural exchange, by promoting international exchange among curators to build relationship of mutual trust and to understand the art scene of the counterpart.