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Volcano Lovers

Curatorial Statement


For the exhibition “Volcano Lovers – from Iceland and Japan”

Birta Guðjónsdóttir and Shinya Watanabe

The exhibition “Volcano Lovers – from Iceland and Japan” is a collaborative exhibition of Icelandic curator Birta Guðjónsdóttir and Japanese curator Shinya Watanabe.

plate_icelandAlthough the historical connection between Iceland and Japan has not been close in the past, these two island nations share obvious cultural and geographic parallels. They are located at the west and east poles of Eurasia, respectively, and have both been greatly influenced by having volcanoes as a prominent part of their natural terrain. For this exhibition we are interested in looking beyond these likenesses and exploring further the common ground manifested in current ways of living in Japan and Iceland, and what these cultural elements can mean for the inhabitants of these two nations today.

The science of plate tectonics has shown how Iceland was created through a split along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the boundary between the North American and Eurasian Plates, which created a new crust on both sides of the diverging boundary. Japan was, however, created on the triple junction of the Pacific, Philippine, and Eurasian plates, and this caused the formation of high mountains and a deep ocean trench.

plate_japanIn other words, earth is created in Iceland, and perishes in Japan. Both nations share an experience of the power and energy of earth´s transformation, construction, and deconstruction. Their volcanic geographies and island cultures share certain affinities in their geopolitical traditions, and in both places there is a strong influence of animism, as shown by Ásatrú in Iceland and Shintoism in Japan.

Quoting the title of Susan Sontag’s novel The Volcano Lover, this exhibition aspires to capture the energy and emotions that lie under the surface of minimalist expressions for these two different nations with similar backgrounds. These works subtly explore sensory experience, relativity, and the complexities of daily rituals.

From there, we can expand our understanding of creations which are heavily inflected by nature and geographical influences, even within the seemingly mundane realm of everyday life. We hope that this exhibition can be a platform for all of its participants and our guests to research those elements individually and collectively through future artistic practices and inspiring experiences.

Curatorial Statement

The Volcano Lover – Minimal Art Today Through the Viewpoint of Plate Tectonics (Shinya Watanabe)