Exhibiting the Return to terroir
Art and the Politics of Nature in Post-Bubble Japan
In his seminal work on landscape David Cosgrove observed that ‘nature’ as a socio-cultural construct has always functioned as one of the favorite focuses of cultures when humanity is in crisis. Taking this thesis as a theoretical point of departure, this study explores a contemporary art exhibition Sensing Nature: Yoshioka Tokujin, Shinoda Tarō, Kuribayashi Takashi. Rethinking the Japanese Perception of Nature, staged in 2010 at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo. The study investigates the strategies used in contemporary exhibiting practices to establish alternative sources of collective identification, and the role of the notion of ‘nature’ in these processes. It explores the recent shift from the perception of the world as the globe into the national terroir as discussed by Bruno Latour and exposed in the conceptual design of Sensing Nature, which returns to the nation-specific notion of “the Japanese perception of nature”. This maneuver demonstrates both the role of art in building social and ecological resilience; and the ambivalent potential of culture in the politics of nature.