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LAST CHANCE Sharjapan 3 – Remain Calm: Solitude and Connectivity in Japanese Architecture
The third iteration of Sharjah Art Foundation’s Sharjapan series is again curated by Yuko Hasegawa, Artistic Director of Tokyo’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and reflects on the role that architecture plays in our personal lives. The exhibition explores the work of notable Japanese architects and an artist who use traditional concepts to create physical spaces with both modern and contemporary resonance – “conventionally understood as a space of enclosure, architecture exists independent of the external world, and yet simultaneously in dialogue with its surrounding environment”, says the blurb.
The exhibition should resonate powerfully in these uncertain times when the outside world can feel fraught with challenges, risk and unknown possibilities. Remain Calm is a proposition for a place to contemplate the possibilities of new lifestyles and modes of human existence: to cultivate serenity infused with a richness of thought, to nurture ways of life that are both productive and intellectual, and to understand the choice between isolation, exclusion and connection as a process of negotiation.
Remain Calm draws inspiration from the 13th century hermit-poet Kamo no Chōmei, who retreated from the world to a tiny, collapsible hut that he moved along the banks of the Kamo River. This portable shelter offered Chōmei a place for quiet reflection, a space that was independent from the outside world but at the same time connected to the surrounding environment through sensory perception. The exhibition features architectural projects that date from Chōmei’s time to the present through the lens of those two key themes: solitude and connectivity. The projects on show have inherited simplicity, serenity and autonomy from, yet connection with, the outside world.
Remain Calm includes sculptural models that explore abstract concepts, spatial and performative multimedia installations as well as drawings, photographs and scale models of architectural projects. A model of Sen no Rikyū’s Tai-an tea house serves as the starting point, which also introduces the work of emergent and established architects Koji Fuji, Togo Murano, Sutemi Horiguchi, Toyo Ito, Kazuyo Sejima, Junya Ishigami, onishimaki + hyakudayuki architects, Shingo Masuda and Katsuhisa Otsubo.
Above: Kazuyo Sejima, Puyuan Design and Event Center, 2020 (visualisation)