September 21st, 2008

Setouchi International Art Festival

Revitalization through Art in the Seto Inland Sea

Last month, we were invited by the Kagawa Prefectural Office to take a short trip down to the archipelago of small islands between Honshu and Shikoku in the Seto Inland Sea. Among the islands is Naoshima, which in just five years, has become one of the most well known art destinations in Japan.

Naoshima’s main attractions include the Chichu art museum, a museum set into the ground at the top of the island, featuring art by James Turrell and Claude Monet in 100% natural light settings designed by Tadao Ando; and Art House Project in which old houses have been turned into immersive art pieces by contemporary artists.

In recent years, the other islands of Seto Inland Sea have suffered from an alarming decline in industry and population. During our brief stop on one island, Ogijima, we found quiet streets, empty schools, and a rugged, self-sufficient, but aging community of farmers and fishermen.

Only Naoshima, through its art, showed signs of revitalization. Tourism is booming, and some tourists have decided to stay, starting coffee shops and restaurants in spacious old houses, kept cool by portable fans and serving organic coffee and vegan food.

We were sent to Seto Inland Sea to see both Ogijima and Naoshima, Ogi as Naoshima’s past, Naoshima as Ogijima’s future. The Kagawa prefectural office has set in motion a plan for a new art festival, taking place on six of the islands in 2010. As web developers, our job will be to create a living online document of the coming years of planning, celebration and hopefully revitalization.

For now, we’ve built just a few pages, but please keep an eye on this project in the coming months.

Pumkin photo by Nicky Fern

Chris PalmieriAfter studying graphic design and Japanese language and aesthetics, Chris moved to Tokyo in 2001 to begin his design practice.
He co-founded AQ in 2004 to bring design basics to cultural organizations with bilingual websites. In his current role as managing director, Chris works with clients to clarify their ideas, oversees the creative process and designs.Read more posts by Chris Palmieri


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