I went to the massive Tokyo Big Sight exhibition hall in Koto ward today to see the 22nd Tokyo Design Festa. Tokyo Design Festa is a biannual event that always takes place at Tokyo Big Sight. It provides an affordable and conspicuous opportunity for relatively (through to completely) unknown artists of various kinds to display their creations.
(Left) Tokyo Big Sight, Koto ward, Tokyo.
Jewelry, drama, pottery, film, sculpture, music, ornaments, lamps…virtually every art form is represented in a darkened maze of booths and spaces. I went with a Japanese acquaintance who works at the local convenience store. He has developed a huge circle of customers, myself included, and networks relentlessly. Thanks to him I was introduced another customer and fellow resident of my neighborhood, Yukinori Maru: basically a musician, but a musician who has added film to his scores, rather than the more usual other way around. Indeed, as sophisticated and compelling as the visuals were, from the outset it was the equally, if not more, sophisticated and compelling soundtrack that initially got me hooked. It was therefore no surprise to be told later that the music actually came first.
Maru displayed three short films. The first was a moving, completely unpreachy, dramatized commentary on what it is that draws young people into extreme movements like Aum Shinrikyo, the religious group which under its leader, Asahara Shoko, was responsible for the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995. The second was about a Chinese couple in Japan featuring murder and questions about the meaning of life, and the third was an almost Chaplinesque comedy about a chubby masochistic salaryman getting his desired desserts.
There is probably not a more free and easy, stimulating and varied large-scale exhibition for individual creators anywhere in Japan. Design Festa is a grassroots cultural highlight that should be on everyone's calender. If you have something you want the world to see, why not start thinking about exhibiting at Design Festa 23?
The Design Festa English language website is worth bookmarking to find out when the next one is.
What is Tokyo Design Festa?
Design Festa No #23, May 2006
Design Festa No #25, May 2007
(Left) Bull - front of - at Tokyo Design Festa.
(Right) Bull - back of - at Tokyo Design Festa.