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Thursday, May 31, 2012

JA Kyosai Sculpture - Is It Art?

全国共済農業協同組合連合会

JA Kyosai Building sculpture, Hirakawacho, Tokyo.

The National Mutual Insurance Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives, or "JA Kyosai" for short, is a Japanese mutual aid association founded in 1948 and which in 1951 began catering to agricultural cooperatives nationwide. JA Kyosai is an insurance provider for its members. As of today JA Kyosai is Japan's biggest domestic insurer.

Last year JA Kyosai got itself a very handsome new 21-story national headquarters building in Tokyo's Hirakawacho district, just a short distance from the administrative center of Japan, the Nagatacho district.

The JapanVisitor Blog has recently been looking at public sculpture around Tokyo. The JA Kyosai building has a sculpture out front, but the lack of any plaque on it or in its vicinity suggests that it is not so much a work of art as an ornament conceived in the office of the building's architects, Nihon Sekkei.

Rear view of sculpture in front of JA Kyosai Building, Hirakawacho, Tokyo.

Nevertheless, the line between art and ornamentation is an exceptionally fuzzy one, so we hereby christen this craggy, granite, somewhat Easter Island-inspired homage to earthy rural camaraderie in the beatific cycle of fertility and harvest, "Untitled."

"Untitled" is certainly a lot more inspired and inspiring than most of the titled public art in Tokyo, particularly that created up until a couple of decades ago, which is often an unfortunate blend of the sentimental and the homespun, a few examples of which we will try to cover in posts to come.

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