Posted inNews

Japanese Modernist Landmark Preserved in Manhattan

At only 40 years old, Japan Society’s low-slung modernist headquarters at 333 East 47th Street has just been named New York’s youngest landmark building by the state’s Landmark Preservation Commission. The structure, designed by Junzo Yoshimura and George G. Shimamoto and first completed in 1971, translates traditional Japanese architectural forms into a modernist idiom, bowing to neither but combining the two languages in an innovative and complex way. I spoke with Japan Society vice president Joe Earle about the landmark designation and his experience of the building itself.

Posted inNews

Is Japanese Radiation Bad For Art? [UPDATE]

According to the Japanese Chunichi Shimbun newspaper, an exhibition called The Birth of French Impressionism set to open at the Prefectural Art Museum in Hiroshima City on April 5 has been canceled due to the cancellation of art loans from France. The loans seem to have been canceled because of fear of radiation damage to the artworks due to the Japanese earthquake and its aftereffects on the area’s nuclear power plants. No one wants to see an irradiated Cezanne! Yet a glance at a map of Japan shows that the French could be worrying a little too much. [Hat tip to Annie Bissett]

Posted inPerformance

Men Made of Marble

Every now and then, if lucky, you’ll encounter a mode of performance or an artwork that simultaneously requires and supplies a kind of attention that you didn’t even know existed. Sitting in an otherworldly, attentive, stupor, I had that experience watching marble white humans covered in a thin layer of dust on a stage that seemed to be both as empty as nothing at all and, at the same time, as full as a night sky.

As Sankai Juku begins their recent piece, TOBARI, everything melts into darkness and a lone human form materializes — bald, half-naked, monochrome; the dust looks like it’s marble or bone, maybe a thin layer of atomic ash, and it covers the body, which, for a while, is motionless; a quiet, lunar presence in a dark room.