This project provided an opportunity to take a close look at the current standing of tobacco – long a part of the cultural history of mankind – along with its history as presented by the museum. In response to a culture being forced to reconsider the issues of cigarettes and smoking with significant restrictions, cancellations, and negative campaigns to the point where even smoking scenes are cut from movies, etc., the exhibition presented an approach that went beyond simple binary opposition. During the summer exhibition period when children constitute the core audience, the exhibition created a valuable opportunity for them to experience these sensitive themes through both contemporary art and cultural material. In addition, presenting contemporary art as an extension of the displays in a museum exhibiting cultural and historical materials rather than showing it at an art museum was an attempt to provide young visitors with a sense of the similarities and differences between works of art and museum objects, and to get them to question art-related frameworks and perceptions.
Juri Akiyama received BFA from Rhode Island School of Design, MFA from Tokyo University of the Arts. She spent her life in Hong Kong, the UK and the USA since 14 till 23. Akiyama attempts to explore and express the concept of what in Japanese called “mottai”, which is a word that acts similarly to the imaginary numbers in the language to mediate people’s subjectivity, through the use of rhetoric found in particular objects such as trampled cigarette boxes and gas cylinders. She uses beeswax as her main material, utilizing its plasticity to let her works circulate in her production to construct a liminal circuit/labyrinth.
Tobacco and Salt Museum, Sumuda-ku, Tokyo