Curatorial Statement

EXHIBITION as Smart Object-1

In recognition of the one-year anniversary of the March 11, 2011 Great Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, Oberlin Shansi and Oberlin College are co-sponsoring a multi-disciplinary symposium and art exhibition on the global impact of the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan.

For many artists, who have been pushed to rethink their relation to their work in a world beset by natural and manmade catastrophes of unprecedented scale, these events have marked a renewed commitment to art as a form of social engagement.  As Ryuta Ushiro, a member of Chim Pom, a Tokyo art collective, says, “(B)eing artists, we happened to come face to face with a moment like this; we happened to be alive in a time like this.  So, what was to be the form of our expression?…I couldn’t accept that art was powerless.”

This is a new kind of social engagement, however–the tired old nags of socialist realism long since put out to pasture.  Motivated by the powerful sense of a world out of balance, unable any longer to maintain their silence in the face of misguided government and corporate policies that have legitimized dangerous technologies needed to fuel a rampant consumerist lifestyle, the work of these new artist critics is marked by spontaneity, craftsmanship, humor, and subversive humor.  All of the selections in this exhibit cross genres and push at the boundaries where temporal and physical media (video, poetry, narrative, music, sculpture, performance, graphic illustration) collide and mesh as if a single medium could not contain the complexity of what is  being told.

The exhibit, which is being held during the month of March 2012, is curated by Nanette Yannuzzi (Associate Professor of Art) and Sylvia Watanabe (Associate Professor & Co-director of Creative Writing) at the Art Department’s new Baron Gallery in downtown Oberlin. Throughout the month, the exhibition, will provide a venue for artist talks, poetry and fiction readings, film screenings, and ongoing public discussion.

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