Yasumasa Morimura Quotes

The value of art is its ability to look into the “world of oblivion” and to find things that are generally unrecognized, forgotten, invisible and impossible to tell.

Even Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci were entertainers. In that way, I am an entertainer and want to make art that is fun.

Taking photographs is generally an act of ‘looking at the object, whereas ‘being seen’ or ‘showing’ is what is most interest to one who does a self-portrait…self-portraits deny not only photography itself but the 20th century as an era as well…an inevitable phenomenon at the end of the 20th century.

“Art is the ability to turn one’s gaze to the world of oblivion.” This is the way in which I understand art at fundamental level.

Art is basically entertainment.

To think about “oblivion” is to think about “what art is”.

By putting a border line between life and death, we separate the world of death from our world of life, casting the dead away into the “world of oblivion”.

I was worried that I, the artist Morimura, would have conflicts with the participating artists and develop a strenuous relationship with them. But the actual experience was completely the opposite. The artists accepted my requests rather positively, because it came from a fellow artist. I strongly feel that the fact that my being an artist avoided the usual curator vs artist tension, and led to creating a positive atmosphere as well as developing a solidarity amongst artists and building a community for artists.

AzWhen we talk about contemporary art and contemporary artists, we usually imagine artists who are alive. But I feel very uncomfortable about placing a border between living artists and dead artists.

I think it is important to be aware that the Internet has replaced the television, and has become a place where the uniformity of human society is accelerated.

Leonard de Vinci, for example, is a great artist, but he is living in the past. However, I don’t feel John Cage and Matsuzawa Yutaka as artists who live in the past. Their ideas are still alive in our world because they express the very important concerns of our age. That is why I could trust them as “contemporary artists”.

The artists could be dead, but some of them are not so distant from us, and make us feel as if they are alive with us. Such artists are worth calling “contemporary artists”.

I planned the exhibition so that it becomes a story where the viewer travels through these islands [of ideas]. Whether the contents of each chapter came first or the artist came first in making the decision was different in each case.

In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury raised cautions against mass media, especially the television, which dumb down human sensibilities and coerce everybody’s thoughts into a single uniform value, allowing human to forget the fundamental action of “having one’s opinion”. As a result, the society deteriorates. I decided to exhibit [Edward] Kienholz’s work which features television as its subject, as well as the Big Double Cross as works that represent this warning.

I put priority on such artists who focus on the world of “oblivion” and who consider placing themselves into the world of “oblivion” as fundamental to their attitude for their expression.

This is why there is not any artist who takes Internet as the theme. My position is quite the opposite to the current trend of art, but this is exactly why the title of my exhibition is “ART Fahrenheit 451”.

Of course, the process of curating is different from art making. Exhibition-making is a process that involves collaboration with various participating artists.

I first wrote down all the phenomena that have emerged in contemporary society that I thought were related to this theme [“sea of oblivion”], and then sorted them out by grouping them into islands of ideas.


I have always thought that it would be nice to not complete the exhibition in one place and close off the others as a result. Exhibitions should connect with various locations and promote exchange and interaction.

Of course, I, like the sponsoring government, would like to have as many people as possible visit Yokohama Triennale. This is because I believe that art should not be monopolized by professionals and specialists.

“Triennale in the City” is a scheme that is of priority for the sponsoring local government. For many local governments, revitalization is an important mission for the local community, and, therefore, the attitude to achieve this mission through the cultural and/or artistic activities should not be denied.