Humans and non-humans in the Japan Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

An artist, a composer, an anthropologist and an architect open the doors to folkloric myths, legends and ecosystems, from Taiwan to Japan.  

Padiglione del Giappone

The audio-visual project developed for the Japan Pavilion is the result of a collaboration between Motoyuki Shitamichi (artist), Taro Yasuno (composer), Toshiaki Ishikura (anthropologist), Fuminori Nousaku (architect) and Hiroyuki Hattori (curator). Cosmo-egg reconsiders the nature of the world we live in and presents an experimental platform to imagine a possible ecology of co-existence between humans and non-humans.

The starting point of this project is the series Tsunami Boulder by Shitamichi, a sequence of black-and-white photos documenting enormous rocks that washed ashore in various parts of Japan. Gigantic masses from the bottom of the sea hurled onto the land through the force of nature, near areas inhabited by humans and populated by other ecosystems.

To give the right soundtrack to the pictures, Yasuno composed Zombie Music. In the Pavilion, a hanging contraption was installed to allow visitors to activate, through an enormous inflatable orange cushion, an automatic performance: some tubes carry the air from the huge pouf to four suspended flutes, instruments that make music without human breath.

The anthropologist Ishikura, specialised in folkloric myths, composed a new mythological narration, transferred, in part on the walls, with the intention of creating a connection between different legends related to tsunamis; stories collected starting from the anecdotes handed down in Taiwan, as well as the isle of Ryukyu and in other locations in Asia. To connect these three universes in the national spaces of the Giardini, the architect Nousaku designed a square, dark structure whose centre channels light through an enormous glass window, creating emptiness surrounded by four large columns resting along the circular edge that outlines a sort of peripheral spiral surrounding the works on view.  

Opening picture: Pavilion of Japan, “Cosmo-Eggs”. 58th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia, “May You Live In Interesting Times”. Photo Francesco Galli. Courtesy La Biennale di Venezia

Motoyuki Shitamichi, Taro Yasuno, Toshiaki Ishikura, Fuminori Nousaku.
Hiroyuki Hattori
58th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia
Giardini del Castello, Venice Biennale
11th May - 24th November 2019

Special Biennale

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