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February 2010
September 15th, 2006
Fri, Sep. 15th, 2006 11:23 am

Here's some stuff that's caught my eye and ear recently -- stuff that's going on in the arts. In Japan and Berlin and on the radio.

GEISAI #10, "an art fair with a twist", will take place on Sunday, September 17. Over 10,000 visitors are expected to attend.

Geisai is of course Takashi Murakami's pay-to-display art fair for young people. It provides an important function in Japan, livening up the junior, aspirational end of the art world; in effect it's an art school degree show without the art school. (Will that be Murakami's next move?)

The first Geisai I went to was in March 2002, and the last was Geisai 6 in 2004. Although the art wasn't up to much, it was a fun day out. At Geisai 6 I ended up blogging about what people were wearing rather than the art. It felt more like a cosplay convention than an art fair, as this little tracking movie through the hall shows.

Geisai 10
Hours: 10 AM to 6 PM
Location: Tokyo Big Sight East Hall 4
Tokyo International Exhibition Center 3-21-1 Ariake, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-0063, Japan

The 2nd Gifu Ogaki Biennale 2006 is an international media art festival held throughout the town of Ogaki in Gifu. It happens this year from Friday October 6th to Sunday October 15th. The theme is Janken: the power of choice. This is a game very much like Paper, Scissors, Rock.

The directors, Gunalan Nadarajan and Hiroshi Yoshioka, say: "This Biennale has two distinct features: First, it will be the first exhibition in Japan that focuses on Asian media artists from countries such as Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, India, China and South Korea which have in recent years grown with rapid momentum, drawing global attention. Second, these exhibitions will be deployed throughout various places on the streets of Ogaki City, Gifu... We present Janken as the universal theme at the Biennale, reinterpreting the non-European game as a flexible and mythical idea."

We do have a sort of Janken in Europe, but we don't take it quite as seriously as these curators seem to. New Media Fix elaborates on the Janken Biennale theme in delightfully nihonjinron fashion: "Janken is a game used to decide something no one wants to decide. Derived from the Buddhist term ryanken hoi, as the etymology suggests, it is the act of invoking the will of the universe (hoi) for problems that cannot be concluded through human rational understanding (ryanken). Janken consists of a three-way deadlock of gu (rock), choki (scissors) and pa (paper). Differing from contemporary global economics where the strongest is the lone winner, in Janken there is no ultimate winner, rather it is based on the world-view that winning and losing circulates through the world." Who knew?

Until the end of September, the Staatsoper on Berlin's Unter den Linden is performing a rather extraordinary opera featuring zany Berlin artist John Bock's recreation of Gericault's famous painting The Raft of the Medusa. The Medusa was a French ship which wrecked off the coast of Africa in 1816. The story has strong contemporary resonances: the ship's dignitaries and passengers took all the best life boats, towing the crew behind on a raft. Soon, though, they couldn't even be arsed to do that, and cut the ropes. The crew then proceeded to kill and eat each other. For more gory details, click here.

Medusa im Tam Tam Club features music by a metal band called Blackmail and plays on:

Thu, Sep 14, 2006: 8 p.m.
Fri, Sep 15, 2006: 8 p.m.
Sat, Sep 16, 2006: 8 p.m.
Sun, Sep 17, 2006: 8 p.m.
Sat, Sep 30, 2006: 8 p.m.

Box Office: +49 (0) 30 20 35 45 55, www.staatsoper-berlin.de
Staatsoper Unter den Linden
Unter den Linden 7
Berlin 10117

Finally, a couple of events anyone with a computer can enjoy... but only for the next few days. Radio 4 last week broadcast The Lost Boys, by Andrew Birkin. "The haunting story of JM Barrie's relationship with the Llewelyn Davies boys, the inspiration behind Peter Pan." Andrew Birkin is a film director (this radio piece is about the making of his film about Barrie, as well as about his own boys) and the brother of Jane Birkin.

Bertolt Brecht's East Berlin celebrates the 50th anniversary of Brecht's death with an investigation by David Edgar into the wily ways in which Brecht avoided the authoritarian excesses of both the House Committee on Unamerican Activities and the East German government.