My favorite work that I have seen in the Setouchi Triennale is the one with the longest title: “Paying a Courtesy Call on the Incumbent Mayor by all His Predecessors in History. Artist Yoshinori Niwa organizes meetings between the current mayor of Naoshima and mediums/ psychics as representatives for the ghosts of the past 16 generations of the island’s mayors. The current mayor asks questions and has conversations with the ghosts and asks for advice, but with a sort of polite skepticism of course. Some of the things they talk about are quite controversial: the dwindling island population, the introduction of a big companies, World War II, and the flood of foreign tourists due to the Benesse foundation. While one may or may not believe that these psychics are actually connecting with the ghosts of the former mayors, it raises interesting questions about ancestor veneration, the future of the art island, and death/memorial. You can watch an expert of the courtesy call here.
While the piece is a video work that can be overlooked amidst the monumental sculpture, I think that it the most provocative and effective way of using the island as a medium. It engages the locals and questions the institution that funds the project. The gallery space, the former local arcade, also has a more welcoming casual vibe – and you can hangout with a beer in evening. And to make things even better, there is footage of cemeteries in japan interspersed throughout the film, including the grave of christ in Japan (but that is a different story.)
Naoshima Bath “I❤湯 (I Love YU)”