The Japanese Pavilion: A Chance Encounter or Political Engineering?
The history of Japan Pavilion dates back to 1950s. In 1956, Japan installed a cross-tradition and modern, concrete-structured pavilion designed by Takamasa Yoshitaka in Giardini, giving in to the decades-long request of Italian government to participate to the Venice Biennale. The construction was initiated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), financially, though, largely dependent on an entrepreneur named Shinjiro Ishibashi, the founder of Bridgestone Tire.
Ever since the Italian government took over the administration of the Biennale from Venice in 1930, Italy had insistently demanded Japan to be more involved in the biennial cultural – and political − banquet. The pavilion negotiation between the countries, however, was to halt during 1940s as the war broke out. It was in 1952 when MOFA dispatched official envoys for the first time to Venice. Consequently, Japan was suggested the site for their installation by Italy.
From 1974 onwards, the Japanese pavilion has been administrated by an Incorporated Administrative Agency – the Japan Foundation – which was originally founded as a fringe organization of the MOFA in 1972; this year’s Japanese ambassador to Venice is L.A.-based artist Toki Tanaka, who is called home for the installation.
Recontextualizing the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster in 2011, Tanaka tries to make ultra-diplomatic conversation with the viewers on our behavior and its uncertainty. We are all invited at his table. Who is ready to attend?Sayuri Okamoto and Marco Mazzi