Art that Shapes Dissensus, and Its Experimentation and Demonstration

The debate about what the arts contribute to society may well have picked up pace in the UK in the second half of the 1990s under the New Labour government with the aim of securing more public funding, but in Japan it was the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which was sparked by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, that proved a major opportunity to share this inquiry. While in the former case, the debate gave a boost to socially engaged art dealing with concrete issues in society, for the latter an urgent feeling of helplessness propelled not only artists but many people working in the arts to examine social problems more than ever before. In fact, Japan was already engulfed by a wide range of social problems, including depopulation in rural regions, an aging population combined with a declining birth rate, the economic crisis, energy problems, and irregular employment. But the exposure to such an immense disaster led to works of art that both introspectively attempted to locate these social problems and examine our society as well as works of art that interpreted social problems and re-examined them historically, in addition to endeavors to uncover social connections in the art of the past. On the other hand, we have also seen the relaxation of the ban against arms exports under Yoshihiko Noda’s Democratic Party of Japan government and the nationalization of the disputed Senkaku Islands (Diaoyutai Islands), as well as, especially after Shinzo Abe returned to power, a shift further to the right in regards to foreign and security policy, resulting in a conspicuous rise in nationalism. Conservatives have been the constant critics of postwar democracy in Japan, and the revival of things such as the family and sense of community that they say have been lost due to postwar … Continue reading Art that Shapes Dissensus, and Its Experimentation and Demonstration