By Eugenia Bertelè

Echigo-Tsumari art events and installations are imagined to bring energy back to the rural regions of Japan and to propose an alternative way of thinking in contrast with the urban focus of the XX century art. More than 350 artworks and installations scattered in 760 km2 of land. A very successful model that has being exported abroad

Yukihisa Isobe, a monument of Siphon, courtesy Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2018 - 7th Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, Japan 2018

Yukihisa Isobe, a monument of Siphon, courtesy Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2018

Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2018 (Niigata Prefecture, July 29, September 17) is one of the largest art festivals in the world and is held once every 3 years in the rural area of Echigo-Tsumari region (Japan), since 2000. The nature and lifestyle of this environment, known for its heavy snowfall and the particular Satoyama agricultural landscape, inspires artists to recover that special connection with art which has almost been lost today. Approximately 200 artworks by recognized international artists and architects are distributed in the area of 760Km2 of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Field: among others, Cai Guo- Quiang, Christian Boltanski, Marina Abramovic, Antony Gormley, Ilya & Emilia Kabakov, Yayoi Kusama, Dominique Perrault, Tobias Rehberger, Leandro Erlich, James Turrell, etc. In the occasion of the 7th edition, about 160 new works will be created into mountains, fields, forests, empty farming houses, closed school buildings.
Echigo-Tsumari is a community project working all over the year through collaborations of partners, local people, artists, kohebi members (group of volunteers), organizations and companies.
The Triennial offers a new kind of journey: visitors traveling across the region can interact both with artworks, local people and the landscape: it allows analyzing global environmental approaches and expanding the dialogue on how people relate to nature.
Leandro Erlich, Palimpsest, new work, courtesy Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2018 - 7th Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, Japan 2018

Leandro Erlich, Palimpsest, new work, courtesy Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2018

One of the highlights of this year’s edition is the remodeling of the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel made by MAD Architects, installing a shallow pool of water to reflect the scenery at its far end.
The 2018 Triennial offers to art travelers two courses of official bus tour, featuring new and major works: the former, called the Antelope Course, showcasing the artworks that highlight terraced rice fields and civil engineering as device to survive in the severe natural environment, such as heavy snowfall and earthquakes.
Hoshitoge rice terrace, courtesy Echigo- Tsumari Art Triennial 2018JPG - 7th Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, Japan 2018

Hoshitoge rice terrace, courtesy Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2018

During this trip visitors can explore at KINARE – the Echigo-Tsumari Satoyama Museum of Contemporary Art -, the temporary exhibition, The Hojoki Shiki – The Universe of ten foot square huts by architects and artists. It’s a proposal to break the fetters of homogenous space that covers the world of today and examine the role of architecture and art in an era when local values have been swamped by globalization. It shows a variety of sectional, mobile, small architectural spaces with different functions (dwelling, office, shop, sauna, dining, etc.) by 30 groups of architects and artists selected through the open call (the jury: Hiroshi Hara, Ryue Nishizawsa, Fram Kitagawa), including Dominique Perrault Architecture, Toyo Ito & Associates Architects, and so on. The visitors can experience a virtual “village” in full size, which surrounds a large-scale pond created by Argentinean artist Leandro Elrich.
Christian Boltanski, Last Class, Photo: H. Kuratani - 7th Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, Japan 2018

Christian Boltanski, Last Class, Photo: H. Kuratani

The latter is the Salmon Course guiding visitors to the works along the Shinano River, Japan’s longest river, to enjoy the dynamic topography with its typical river terraces. Damián Ortega is also featuring an installation, inspired by the indigenous mythology in Mexico that weaves history and landscape.
Each tour includes a special lunch prepared by a Michelin-star chef or food artist, emphasizing local food with fresh and seasonal menus.
Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale has been internationally recognized as a model of regional revitalization through art and the issues it’s been facing to boost the region are now being shared by many regions in the world, in particular in Asia.

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