Contemporary Japanese art today – Roppongi Crossing at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo 2022

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Artist Name: KYUN-CHOME Title of the work: Until My Voice Dies 2019 Video 32 min. Credit line: via The Mori Art Museum

The Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, is pleased to present the exhibition Roppongi Crossing 2022: Coming & Going to be on view from Thursday, December 1, 2022 to Sunday, March 26, 2023.

“Roppongi Crossing” is a series of co-curated exhibitions staged every three years by the Mori Art Museum. It was first launched in 2004 to provide a snapshot of the contemporary Japanese art scene at a particular point in time.

This seventh edition is to showcase works by 22 Japanese artists (all born between the 1940s and 1990s) and artist groups, in an exciting cross-section of creative output by young promising artists as well as well-established artists recognized in the international art scene.

roppongi crossing
Artist Name: AKI INOMATA Title of the work: How to Carve a Sculpture 2018- Installation Dimensions variable Courtesy: Contemporary Art Foundation, Tokyo Installation view: How to Carve a Sculpture, Contemporary Art Foundation Secretariat, Tokyo, 2021 Photo: Kioku Keizo

As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, our lives have changed dramatically. These changes have revealed many hitherto hidden, or at least hard to see, aspects of Japanese society, prompting us to revisit and reconsider familiar aspects of our everyday environments previously taken for granted. They have also brought to light the presence and diversity of those living alongside through these tumultuous times.

Now, with people once more on the move and growing expectations of new cultural creativity, we are reminded of the fact that various ethnic groups do live in “Japan” and that country already possesses multifarious layers of history and culture. What kind of future can we now imagine and build together?

The subtitle of Roppongi Crossing 2022, “Coming & Going,” suggests the need to reacknowledge that people’s inward and outward movements and repeated interactions with other cultures throughout Japan’s complex history have indeed made this country a place where a wide variety of people and cultures coexist. At the same time, it also expresses a desire for those “comings and goings” brought to a halt by the pandemic to resume.

It is in this context that we take a fresh, more wide-ranging look than ever at the characteristics of contemporary art and creative scene of Japan today, inviting visitors to join us in pondering the imponderable nature of tomorrow.


Using the COVID-19 pandemic as their starting point for discussion, the team of four Roppongi Crossing 2022 curators is structuring the exhibition around three topics worth close examination in 2022.

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Artist Name: Aoki Noe Title of the work: furisosogu monotachi / nagasaki (all that floats down / nagasaki) 2019 Iron, glass 580 x 1,370 x 1,500 cm Installation view: furisosogu monotachi / nagasaki (all that floats down / nagasaki), Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum, 2019 Photo: Yamamoto Tadasu Photo courtesy: ANOMALY, Tokyo

Taking a Fresh Look at Familiar Aspects of Our Everyday Life

The pandemic has made us far more aware of familiar phenomena and aspects of day-to-day living, an extension perhaps of the heightened interest in nature and the environment in Japan following the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. It is up to us to now channel this greater awareness into our thoughts about the future.

Among the highlights of Roppongi Crossing 2022 will be AKI INOMATA’s series of sculptures made of lumber chewed by beavers; the work of Ichihara Etsuko, who imagines a fantastical future based on pandemic-prompted lifestyle changes; Tamayama Takuro’s installations that transform our everyday surroundings; the large-scale sculptures of Aoki Noe, inspired by natural phenomena; and an installation by Takeuchi Kota including photos taken in Fukushima’s radioactive exclusion zone.

Living with a Variety of Neighbors

Remote communication has given us more working style options, even in many cases allowing one to live across multiple locations.

In this way, the changes brought by the pandemic have varied depending on individuals and their personal circumstances, their home environment, and/or the social conditions, and we have come to realize the how diverse our neighbors are.

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Artist Name: Oh Haji Title of the work: Ama’s home/boat floating on memory with the colour of emptiness 2018 Used ramie and cotton clothes from Kanazawa, linen yarn, sinker, fishhook, cyanotype print Dimensions variable Installation view: Culture City of East Asia 2018: Kanazawa Altering Home, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa Photo: Kioku Keizo

This exhibition will feature the paintings of O JUN, who examines a changing world to depict many kinds of neighbors; portrait photography by Kanagawa Shingo, who reunited with his then-missing aunt and afterwards documented her in photographs; and a video by KYUN- CHOME that depicts the lives of transgender people.

Amid a rapidly-growing list of initiatives with “diversity” and “LGBTQ+” concerns in mind, this exhibition contemplates the ways in which various kinds of people live together in today’s society. It also seeks to grasp people’s subtle differences rather concealed in the shadows of these trending terms.

Shining a Light on Japans Cultural Diversity

The pandemic may have halted the flow of people coming into the country, but those with roots overseas residing in Japan are still an everyday sight. Previously somewhat ‘masked’ by the inbound tourism boom, it could be argued that it has become more apparent how many people from different backgrounds and ethnic groups live together in this country. In retrospect, through the long history of complex events and political changes, Japan has indeed become a place where people of different origins – Ainu, Okinawan, Chinese, Korean, just to name a few – live together.

Amid a growing worldwide trend for reappraisal of the previously ethnically and culturally marginalized, isn’t it the high time to shine a light on Japan’s long- standing cultural variety, and to contemplate a new era of even greater diversity and cultural celebration?

At Roppongi Crossing 2022, opportunities to doing exactly that include Ikeda Hiroshi’s video installation featuring members of the Ainu community; photographs by Ishiuchi Miyako capturing her home of many years and neighborhood just before moving away; Oh Haji’s textile renderings of travels by sea; Han Ishu’s works similarly on the theme of migration and relocation; and works by Okinawan artists Ishigaki Katsuko and Iha Linda.

The Mori Art Museum, Tokyo / “Roppongi Crossing 2022: Coming & Going” / Thursday, December 1, 2022 to Sunday, March 26, 2023.

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