Catastrophe and the Power of Art

6 October 2018–20 January 2019

Exhibition Overview

Yoko Ono.jpg

Yoko Ono, Add Color Painting (Refugee Boat), 1960/2016. Mixed media installation.

The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, 9/11, the financial crisis of 2008... catastrophes continue to befall us all over the world. Many artists have taken such disastrous events as their subject matters to inform the world of them and hand the stories down to future generations. Unlike media coverage with its emphasis on objectivity, this documenting from a personal perspective presents to us yet another truth, one rendered virtually invisible by its concealment in the shadow of numerically overwhelming public opinion. Some of these works aim to expose social contradictions and problems that have been suppressed, while others express personal loss and grief.

Though disasters and crises may fill us with despondency, the energy to try to bounce back can simultaneously spark imagination, and boost creative output. One example is the large cohort of artists working for a better society in Japan and elsewhere since the Earthquake. These artists indeed attempt to offer new visions, depicting ideals and hopes encompassing wishes for reconstruction and rebirth.

“Catastrophe and the Power of Art” will contemplate the dynamism that takes the negative and makes it positive, through works by artists ranging from international stars of the contemporary art world to cutting-edge newcomers, as we confront catastrophe ̶ such as wars and terrorist attacks, the refugee crisis, and destruction of the planet's environment.

(Photo courtesy of Mori Art Museum.)

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