The TERATOTERA Festival, which began in 2011, is a large-scale, area-wide art event packed with art exhibitions, live concerts, performances and more, held as part of the TERATOTERA art project that presents art events along the JR Chuo line. This year’s festival, its ninth iteration, will take place over three days during November 8-10 in ten locations including vacant stores in the area around Mitaka Station. Nine artists will present pieces including installations, performances, paintings and video works. We invite you to enjoy the unique art experience offered by TERATOTERA.
During discussions to decide the theme of this year’s festival, one of the Teraccollective members spoke about a recent incident in which they had felt unable to speak up about something they thought they were right about. The reasons for this were the relationships with those around and being in an atmosphere of having to follow customs and practices. The member’s story told of a situation in which unspoken rules make it impossible to make choices freely and in accordance with one’s beliefs and feelings.
On some level, our daily lives can be said to be a series of choices that appear before us. We exist at the head of a line that connects our points of choice so far. The restrictive situation experienced by the Teraccollective member could happen to anyone.
If you look up “freedom” in the dictionary, it says: “Freedom is based on certain preconditions, hence there is no unconditional, absolute freedom. Since freedom grows through removal or relaxation of obstructive conditions, an increase in freedom means reshaping natural and social conditions to achieve one’s ends.” In that sense, we are not necessarily free to make the numerous “choices” that occur in given situations every day; in fact this implies a fair degree of constraint upon our choices.
That the act of “choice” affects people’s happiness and well-being is indicated in the World Happiness Report published by a United Nations-affiliated organization. Japan, which should be top-ranking if you look at economic indicators alone, ranks surprisingly low in terms of happiness. Since the survey began in 2012, that ranking has fallen year-on-year, with Japan coming 58th out of 156 countries in the latest 2019 edition, the lowest among developed countries. Happiness ranking is measured according to six indicators, and one of the indicators keeping down Japan’s happiness level is “freedom to make life choices” (with Japan in 64th place).
What’s more, the current sociopolitical situation in Japan seems to further encourage such barriers to freedom of choice. For example, it is no longer unusual to find government officials who have whipped up the media with a scandal arising from their own conjecture or interpretation regarding the intentions of a politician. And still fresh in our minds is the case of the
executive committee for the international art festival Aichi Triennale 2019, which was forced to make the difficult choice of halting an exhibition after receiving threatening telephone calls and emails about exhibit subject matter.
How should we confront the barriers to freedom of choice in society today? Arriving at an answer is no easy thing. For this year’s exhibition, we asked participating artists to incorporate something into their works that requires the viewer to make some sort of choice. With what form of expression will the artists respond to this challenge, and how will visitors approach the result? We hope this will lead to extended thought and dialogue concerning barriers to freedom of choice.
Mariko Aoiki, Ushio, Ayaka Ura, Kaoru Endo, Hiroko Okada, Zengo (Megumi Kamimura + Shinichi Takashima), movingscape cntinuous exhibition vol.1, Henry Tan, Ri Jong-Ok × Chong Ri Ae
9 locations including facilities, vacant premises around JR Mitaka Station and others
*All locations are 1-15 minutes walk from Mitaka Station