TURN Art Project and the Possibilities of Individual Art

Aiming for Art That Acknowledges Each Person’s Uniqueness

— Part Ⅱ —

2021.01.13 release
HIBINO Katsuhiko, TURN Supervisor / Artist

HIBINO Katsuhiko, TURN Supervisor / Artist

Redefining the Present by Viewing the Past and Future with Imagination

In the 80s, HIBINO Katsuhiko made a spectacular debut with a work of art that attracted a great deal of attention for using corrugated cardboard — something previously regarded as packaging material — to create art.
While teaching at the Tokyo University of the Arts, he has also been active as the general supervisor and producer of an art festival that conducts art projects to solve social problems, and he has worked tirelessly on initiatives that include a joint exhibition by museums specializing in art brut, which is the starting point of the current TURN project.
Given that background, interaction and encounters have been crucial elements of the TURN project from the start, but the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and the declaration of a state of emergency in order to prevent its spread have greatly restricted the project’s activities.

“One of the mainstays of TURN was ‘interactive’ activity in which artists actually visited institutions for disabled people and expressed their feelings together with those people. That is no longer possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we have discovered amidst the pandemic that interaction can be done online using the power of technology. The physical barrier of distance is no longer a barrier. We have created a new world in which interaction is possible even if mobility is impossible. I can sense the possibilities there.”

TURN FES 3: “A Square of Light” Photo: ITO Yuji

TURN FES 3: “A Square of Light”  (Photo: ITO Yuji)

TURN Interactive Program (Iwata Tomoko and Gran Ark MIDUHO) Photo: TOMITA Ryohei

TURN Interactive Program (Iwata Tomoko and Gran Ark MIDUHO)  (Photo: TOMITA Ryohei)

TURN LAND (Atelier La Mano) Photo: TOMITA Ryohei

TURN LAND (Atelier La Mano)  (Photo: TOMITA Ryohei)

The Power of Imagination Overcoming the Isolation of Distance

Hibino thinks that being unable to be together can reaffirm the significance of previous face-to-face meetings and actual contact.

“These aren’t love song lyrics, but some things are nurtured by the times we can’t be together (laughs). Human beings have imagination. It’s precisely because we can’t see someone that we imagine how they’re doing right now. And it’s not just people who enjoy being with others, but also those who, until now, would only reluctantly get together with others. Getting the opportunity to rethink the meaning of being together by having more choices coincides perfectly with the objectives of TURN, doesn’t it?
“The visible present interacts with both the invisible past and future. Maybe we’re trying to invent a new ‘ship’ in order to find the sense of worth that comes from searching for a previously unknown continent.”

Art Is at the Foundation of Everything.
HIBINO Katsuhiko, “The Art of X”, 2020

HIBINO Katsuhiko, “The Art of X”, 2020

“Words are also limited. For example, if I were to say ‘red’, different people wouldn’t see the completely identical ‘red’ in their minds. Some people would imagine red like a rose, and others would imagine red like a sunset. Words are very convenient, but they also sometimes impose limits.
“So what do people imagine when we use the word ‘art’? Some people might imagine paintings or sculptures, and some probably imagine the act of viewing a work of art. Some probably think of something emotional.
“For example, is arts and crafts the only class at school that contains art? You can actually sense art in the beautiful formulas you see during math class and in the beautiful words you encounter in English class.
“I think art is at the foundation of everyone’s lives. I believe that the characteristics of art, which allow each of us to accept each other’s differences, are useful for creating a diverse society. I use the words ‘the art of X’ to mean that art is found in all kinds of things.

The idea that art can be found in everything has been put into practice by Hibino in his university program.

The Attitude of Thinking on Your Feet like a Player on the Field

“Although the SDGs (sustainable development goals) proposed by the United Nations as action guidelines for the sustainable prosperity of humans and the planet have garnered much attention, the 17 goals proposed by the SDGs do not mention the word ‘art’.
“However, I think all 17 of those goals can be connected with art. By linking art with corporate attitudes and awareness, even art can probably contribute to SDGs. Even Tokyo University of the Arts has launched a variety of programs to contribute to SDGs.”

Looking back at the start of TURN, Hibino says, “I didn’t know how these activities would be received, but I thought I’d give them a try first.” That sort of “thinking on your feet” attitude might also have something to do with soccer, which Hibino loves. He also works as a member of the Japan Football Association (JFA) Executive Committee.

“The sport of soccer also needs to contribute to society. Tokyo University of the Arts has partnered with the JFA, signing a collaboration agreement in order to promote social contribution activities. By bringing together the community, government, educational institutions, sports, and arts, we have a great opportunity to find solutions to the social challenges of the future. That’s exactly what the word ‘turn’ means to me.”

Coverage and editing: OKAJIMA Akira

Profile: HIBINO Katsuhiko

Artist, dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts and professor at the Intermedia Art Department, Tokyo University of the Arts. Director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu. Japan Football Association Executive Committee member and Committee for Social Responsibility chairman. Born in Gifu Prefecture in 1958. Won the Grand Prize at the Nippon Graphic Exhibition in 1982. Participated in the Biennale of Sydney in 1986. Participated in the Venice Biennale in 1995. Has participated in the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale since 2003.
Has participated in the Setouchi Triennale since 2010. Served as artistic director of Roppongi Art Night 2013–2015. Received the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Award at Japan’s Art Encouragement Prize in 2015 (Art Promotion Division). Has supervised “Turn — From Land to Sea (Exploring People’s Innate Capabilities)”, a 2014–2015 joint exhibition by Japanese art brut art galleries supported by the Nippon Foundation, since 2014. Since 2015, he has worked as supervisor of TURN, a leading project in Tokyo that is spearheading the cultural program for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.