towada art center is this unbelievable destination for the contemporary art lover. even though it’s so remote one could almost consider it a secret. but it could also be good for anybody interested in having a fun day out in the close vicinity of world class art and architecture. it was a huge, wonderful surprise for me!
as soon as i got off that 40-kilometer bus ride i saw erwin wurm‘s fat house and fat car. the house had a little video inside, featuring an animated version of the house itself wondering about its status: am i an house or am i art?, etc. cute, but unfortunately i can’t find it anywhere anymore.
then, yayoi kusama‘s love for ever singing in towada.
nearby, there is also inges idee‘s ghost and unknown mass.
right in front of the entrance, there was choi jeong hwa‘s flower horse, a nod to the region’s cabaline mascot. the artist is known as the father of korean pop art.
the reception room floor is lined by jim lambie‘s zobop.
i walked into the first room only to find myself in the presence of ron mueck‘s 4m standing woman. it’s a fascinating archetypal figure of the grandmother. as usual, mueck’s work draws you in and makes you stare harder only to discover even more breathtaking details.
imagine there were lines on her arms in the places where the sleeves dug into the flesh. the wedding ring was a little sunk into the finger, the way it often does with older people. the socks had the elastic cut off so it wouldn’t bother her. so they draped a little, rather than just stretch on the leg. the shoes were worn out. check the little details the next time you see a mueck piece. you will be blown away!
i really loved location (5) by hans op de beeck. we entered this dark room which, as our eyes got accustomed to the environment, proved to be a bar. it was fully furnished so we sat down in one of the booths. out the window, we could see a winding road. it felt so real and i believe that it was actually there, and not just a picture. but i cannot prove it…
oh yes, i can! i researched and i found on his website a draft for the work and the road is there! i’m so happy i solved this enigma. (yeah, i know, i’m an insane art geek. lol!)
this is do ho suh‘s cause and effect. it’s a room-sized chandelier made of gradient inter-locking male dolls.
the red robot ant in front of the museum is atta by noboru tsubaki. atta is a kind of ants called leaf-cutters, but this is as far as my references go.
sampf land by takashi kuribayashi was another highlight. we entered a completely white room. there was a table and 3 chairs: two on the ground and one of the table. right above the chair on the table there was a round hole in the ceiling. also, there was the body of a baby seal hanging from the ceiling, as if it was underwater and its head above the water. so each and every visitor had to take off their shoes and climb on the table and then on the chair to take a peek through the ceiling hole. and everybody did.
i climbed up and grabbed the hole’s edge with my hands to help myself up. my finger tips felt water! and i put my head through that hole and i found myself in some sort of foggy jungle! they said they could see the head of the baby seal, too, but i didn’t.
the head-vases are by yoshitomo nara. and the bridge of light is by ana laura alaez.
the floor of the cafe/museum shop is lined with the work of michael lin, untitled. one of the walls is made entirely of glass. right next to it there’s an oversized inflatable flower, breathing flower a second piece by choi jeoung hwa.
the towada art center was launched in 2008. and it was designed by ryue nishizawa, half of starchitect duo sanaa. the main concept behind the building was a continuity between the outside and the inside. i think he did a good job: the building is barely present as a barrier.
click here for an introductory video of the center.
one last thing: if your art tour left you hungry, find barayaki! it’s this little restaurant made of two different halves: a new half and an old half. the old part had been transported from its original location in fukuoka, when the owners moved.
we had diy pork and onion for lunch. it went great with some local apple juice. eat here: delicious meal, 100% traditional experience and great service in flawless english!
so, would you or wouldn’t you like to visit the towada art center?
photo credits: little aesthete, iwan baan, google search