Local revitalization through an International Art Festival
Blessed with majestic mountains, marshlands and hot springs, Nakanojo Town in Gunma Prefecture is home to traditional folk culture. Curator Takako Yamaguchi analyzes the appeal of the “Nakanojo Biennale”, an international art festival that started in 2007 and celebrated its seventh year.
“I think it is due to the artists, the hosts, and the residents that work together to create an art festival from scratch. Nakanojo Biennale is a place where domestic and foreign artists stay to produce and present their works. It would not be successful without the help of the residents, but the people are surprisingly accommodating.”
Yamaguchi was originally an artist herself. She has extensive experience as an artist-in-residence abroad as well as exhibiting at local art festivals in Japan. She joined Nakanojo Biennale in 2013 as an artist. Through that experience, she decided to move to Nakanojo in 2017 as a ‘local revitalization cooperator’, and was involved in the same year's art festival as an artist and curator.
“I've been interested in ‘sustainability’ for a while, and believe it is key to focus on how to make the art festival sustainable. My term as a local revitalization cooperator will end this fiscal year. Moving forward, in parallel with my own artistic activities, I plan to take on a different role in seeking to create a system that allows various artists to visit Nakanojo and continuously stay and create.”
As cities become more homogenous, regions may start finding the chance to stand out with their own uniqueness.
“The younger generation is able to take the local history and social background to create new cultures, and that is happening spontaneously on a global scale. Not only through art, but various such movements, I hope the world will become truly rich and varied.”
Takako Yamaguchi, born in 1978 in Tajimi City, Gifu Prefecture, is a graduate of Nagoya University of the Arts. She dedicated her time as a curator for the Nakanojo Biennale 2019 held from August 24 to September 23.
2. Gloves and insect repellent are necessities for setting up in the deep mountains of Nakanojo.
3. Hiroki Ishikawa “Dear Humans, From Nakanojo”, one of the artwork at “Nakanojo Biennale” in 2019.
—a film and sculpture based on stories from residents exhibited at the former Hirozakari Brewery.
4. An old private house ‘Yamase’ was exhibited in 2013. Yamaguchi joined the exhibition as an artist.
5. Power tools used for set-up.