Remain Calm: third Sharjapan exhibition to explore Japanese architecture

Sharjah Art Foundation's collaboration with curator Yuko Hasegawa will open to the public in July

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The third iteration of Sharjapan will run from July 24 to October 1, Sharjah Art Foundation announced.

Titled Remain Calm: Solitude and Connectivity in Japanese Architecture, the exhibition has been curated by Yuko Hasegawa, director of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan.

It explores the work of Japanese architects and an artist who use traditional techniques to create physical spaces that still resonate today. Drawing inspiration from 12th-century poet Kamo no Chomei, the exhibition looks to the hut, or hermitage, as an illustration of the spiritual aspects of Japanese architecture. Reclusive Chomei lived in a small, portable hut that he moved along the banks of the Kamo River. He lived independent of the outside world, but was at the same time connected to the surrounding environment.

This is what the exhibition explores – how architectural projects between Chomei's time and the present day link in with two main themes: solitude and connectivity.

Sutemi Horiguchi, 
Hasshoukan Miyuki-no-ma (Imperial room), 1950. Courtesy Hasshoukan and Takuya Ito

Simplicity and serenity are at the heart of the modern projects included in the exhibition, qualities organisers say are integral to Japanese huts, tea ceremony rooms and traditional sukiya-zukuri residential architecture that originated in zen culture.

Remain Calm features sculptural models, multimedia installations, drawings, photographs and scale models of architectural projects.

For example, there is a model of Sen no Rikyu’s Tai-an tea house, forming a starting point to the exhibition, which goes on to introduce visitors to architects such as Koji Fuji, Togo Murano, Sutemi Horiguchi and Kazuyo Sejima, as well as a performative installation by artist Nile Koetting.

Koetting’s work is inspired by the writings of author and researcher Miriam Stoney, and his performance, which offers perspectives on the role museums and art centres play in times of crisis via visual and sensory elements, will take place from 11am to 9pm on the exhibition's opening day.

A performative installation by artist Nile Koetting. Courtesy the artist and Tang Lijun

Sharjapan is a four-year collaboration with curator Hasegawa. It aims to introduce various aspects of Japanese culture to audiences in Sharjah. The first iteration, The Poetics of Space, focused on the Asian country’s book design from the early 20th century to present day, while last year’s exhibition, titled Inter-Resonance: Inter-Organics, encompassed performance art, sound-based installations, and new technologies and traditional Japanese practices that explore the interactions between nature, technology and human life.

“This year’s edition of Sharjapan explores ideas that resonate powerfully in these uncertain times when the pandemic has made staying at home the ‘new normal’, while disrupting individual connectivity to an outside world that feels fraught with challenges, risk and unknown possibilities,” said Sharjah Art Foundation.

“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, exclusive and connection as a process of negotiation.”

Covid-19 safety guidelines and social-distancing measures will be in place at the event. Anyone who wishes to view the exhibition will need to book in advance through Sharjah Art Foundation’s website.

The exhibition is free to attend and open to all. It will take place in galleries one, two and three at Al Mureijah Square, Sharjah.

Updated: July 06, 2021, 1:14 PM