Click on photos to enlarge.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art

The Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art  main entrance.
Yesterday, I wrote about the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) as if it were the best thing to come along in the art world since sliced cheese and wine. Perhaps, but MASS MoCA is not one of a kind. In fact, today one does have to roam too far afield to find museums which are comparable.

The Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art aerial view 
The Japanese have a museum entry into this heady atmosphere of contemporary exhibition space. Like MASS MoCA, it's not  where one might expect to find such things but in the "Peace City" of Hiroshima. The Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art was the first museum in Japan to dedicate itself solely to contemporary art (there are at least two more recent entries now). Not surprisingly, in Hiroshima, "contemporary" means anything coming after August 4, 1945. In formulating a modern image of urban civic itself, its past having been effectively eradicated, Hiroshima had little but peace upon which to build--hope for the future, and a prayer that nuclear destruction on such a scale might never happen again. Their museum embodies both these elements in it's 100,000 square foot (large by Japanese standards) display space.

A peace loving Vegetable Weapon, 2009, Tsuyoshi Ozawa, HCMCA
There is no feeling of medieval fortress security, aircraft hangar volume, or any kind of factory ambiance such as one finds at MASS MoCA. If anything, the feeling is more closely related to that of the Acropolis in Athens. The museum sits atop a 50-meter high hill called Hijiyama Art Park and was designed by Japanese architect, Kurokawa. Actually, to be more accurate, the museum sits in the hill, some 60% of it's volume being underground so as not to offend Japanese aesthetic sensibilities regarding their precious limited landscape. Besides art and cultural facilities set in a forested, 75 acre area, there is a sculpture park, an outdoor school, vistas, open areas, and nature walks offering bits of quiet pleasure for all ages. Stone, tiles, and aluminum are employed in the exterior facade of the sprawling, four-level complex. And while the Japanese entry into the field of contemporary art exhibition may lack the mass of MASS MoCA, it competes quite handily with its aura of oriental refinement, relaxing ambiance, and sedate style as compared to its Massachusetts counterpart's typically American emphasis on enormous, freewheeling size alone.
The specter of nuclear destruction is never far removed from the art of Hiroshima as seen
in this work for the museum's 65th Anniversary Memorial Exhibition in 2010

No comments:

Post a Comment