Exhibitions - 04.15.2023 - 07.05.2023
Symbiosis | Living Island
04.15.2023 (Sat.) – 07.05.2023 (Wed.)
Mon. – Fri. | 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM (PDT)
Sat. – Sun. | 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM (PDT)
JAPAN HOUSE Gallery, Level 2
In biology, the word “symbiosis” refers to two organisms living together, each strengthened by the close association. Socially, the term is used for a mutually beneficial relationship between people or groups. The exhibition Symbiosis: Living Island, on view at JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles from April 15 to July 5, 2023, explores the groundbreaking Inujima “ Art House Project,” designed to revitalize Inujima, a depopulated Japanese island, by integrating contemporary art. The project has created a unique symbiosis between art, architecture, community, and ecology that will nurture and sustain the island for many years to come.
Inujima (“Dog Island”) is located in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea, part of the city of Okayama. Once a center of copper refining and stone quarrying, the tiny island—it can be walked around in an hour—is now home to just twenty-five households, with more than half of the inhabitants over seventy years of age. In 2008, the island became one of locations of the Benesse Art Site Naoshima—activities conducted by Benesse Holdings, Inc. and Fukutake Foundation in the Inland Sea, and was transformed through art. Yuko Hasegawa, director of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, was hired as the artistic director of Inujima “Art House Project,” and conceived of an environment where art, community, and ecology are harmoniously intertwined.
Inujima “Art House Project”
The Inujima “Art House Project” is developed in collaboration with Kazuyo Sejima, Pritzker Prize–winning architect and founding partner of the firm SANAA. The team has constructed pavilions and art galleries on Inujima, and Hasegawa invited artists to create work in a sustainable manner that enriches the lives of the residents. The island now hosts a series of galleries made from recycled materials, transparent acrylic and aluminum, each structure reflecting and preserving the landscape, ecology, and industrial heritage. The project recently expanded to include a botanical garden, a bar, and amenities for visitors to stay on the island.
A sense of symbiosis has been at the heart of the project since the beginning—enabling it to thrive and ensuring the future of the island and its residents. According to Hasegawa, “For people in Europe, symbiosis means people living together and helping each other. But it’s not just that. It’s not just about people, but all living things: plants, animals, even objects that we find useful. There’s a Japanese animistic way of thinking that says that all these things have a soul. Everything we interact with, all the things around us exist side by side and support each other. In that sense it’s very Japanese: being considerate towards others and valuing harmony, even if it means not expressing yourself. But this is more about all things existing side by side.”
Explore the Exhibition
The Symbiosis exhibition, curated by Hasegawa and designed by Sejima, takes visitors on a journey around Inujima, through an experiential diorama of the island (including architectural models of the art pavilions), documentary videos, and testimonies from residents on the project’s transformative impact on their lives. Within the exhibition, Hasegawa has highlighted the work of three artists featured on the island, Beatriz Milhazes from Brazil and Haruka Kojin and Yusuke Komuta from Japan, alongside Inujima landscape imagery by renowned photographer Takashi Homma. These wide-ranging works convey a vision of Inujima as a living entity and potential blueprint of coexistence for the future.
Yuko Hasegawa | Exhibition CuratorRead Statement
Kazuyo Sejima | Exhibition DesignRead Statement
Presented by | JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles
Curator | Yuko Hasegawa
Exhibition Design | Kazuyo Sejima & Associates
With works by | Office of Ryue Nishizawa, Tetsuo Kondo Architects, Ichio Matsuzawa Office, Beatriz Milhazes, Fiona Tan, Takashi Homma, Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba, Haruka Kojin, Yusuke Komuta, Kohei Nawa
Assistant Curator | Iku Watanabe
With support from | Fukutake Foundation, Obayashi Corporation, Shizen Energy Group, HOPPY Beverage Co., Ltd.
Graphic Design | Instrument