FOREST FESTIVAL OF OKAYAMATHE ARTS
The title “Forest Festival of the Arts” was inspired by the forests in this area, which are full of elements that are of vital importance for our lives, including a moderate climate, ample supply of water and other resources, and foodstuffs. They likewise symbolize its diversity and richness as a place of natural bounty and culture, where people come together.
Taking the activation of this bounty born of forests into the future using the power of art as its objective, the festival will pose a question: “what kind of capital do we truly need?” Under an outlook regarding cultural facilities (such as art museums, memorial halls, and schools), life infrastructure (the supply of water, energy, and food), and the natural environment as components of the social common capital, the point is to create new capital through activities by not only artists but also experts (architects, scientists, and ethnologists), with the cooperation of local residents.
Besides reflecting diverse views, art generates empathy with them among viewers and nurtures powers of imagination toward new perspectives on the world and things. This makes people feel surprised, deeply moved, excited, and inspired, as well as the joy of being alive and the sense of fulfillment that comes from profound sensibility and thought. Infused with the energy of art, the ecological system of northern Okayama will be transformed into a topos that refreshes people’s hearts and minds. This festival of residents in the forested part of “clear-skies country” will celebrate this transformation.
She has curated Japanese contemporary art and media and technology extensively both domestically and internationally. Her curatorial language is interdisciplinary, encompassing not simply art but also architecture, design, science and anthropology, and combined with global curating experience, allows her to view art as part of a single, holistic ecology.
Hasegawa has also curated, either solo or in a joint capacity, international art biennials including the 7th International Istanbul Biennial (2001), the Shanghai Biennale (2002), the 29th São Paulo Biennial (2010), the Sharjah Biennial 11 (2013), and the 7th Moscow Biennale (2017), Thailand Biennale, Korat (2021) and also served as art advisor to the 12th Venice Architecture Biennale (2010).
In parallel with her curating roles, as a professor of Curatorial Studies at the Tokyo University of the Arts Graduate School of Global Arts since 2015, Yuko Hasegawa has taught students of multiple nationalities, while continuing to construct curatorial theories and contribute to the development of contemporary art discourse from non-western-centric points of view. She has also written, co-authored and contributed to numerous books, papers and catalogues. Among her most recent publications is New Ecology and Art: Anthropocene as dithering time.
Hasegawa has been honored with the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France (2015), the Ordem de Rio Branco, Brazil (2017), and Japan Commissioner for Cultural Affairs Award, the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan (2020).
Forest Festival of the Arts Okayama: Clear-skies Country is a project that will unfold in an area comprised of 12 municipalities (cities, towns, and villages). Specifically, these are the cities of Tsuyama, Takahashi, Niimi, Maniwa, and Mimasaka; the towns of Kagamino, Shoo, Nagi, Kumenan, and Misaki; and the villages of Shinjo and Nishiawakura.
This area stretches from the Chugoku Mountains, which separate the Sanyo and Sanin regions, to the Kibi Highlands, and constitutes the upstream district of the three major rivers whose sources are in the Chugoku Mountains (the Yoshii, Asahi, and Takahashi rivers). It has a landscape differing from that of the area along the coast of the Seto Inland Sea in the southern part of the prefecture, and is blessed with many attractive resources. These include abundant greenery and majestic nature, the station towns and castle towns along the old post roads, historic townscapes of communities that flourished as nodes of river transport, and the three Mimasaka spas fed with hot springs water of excellent quality (Yunogo, Okutsu, and Yubara).
Displaying works of art and including related events, the festival will highlight the appeals of the area from new perspectives and deliver a special, out-of-the ordinary experience. The main aims are to promote excursion-oriented tourism, expand the population engaged in interchange, and enhance civic pride, all around the festival as a centerpiece.
© Forest Festival of the Arts Okayama: Clear-skies Country Executive Committee
Photo courtesy of Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation