Oct 12 2017

Hikaru Fujii Wins Nissan Art Award 2017 Grand Prix

by Brady Ng

HIKARU FUJII, recipient of the Nissan Art Award 2017 Grand Prix, in front of his winning work Playing Japanese (2017) at the Nissan Art Award 2017 Exhibition, Yokohama, 2017. Photo by Yukio Koshima. Courtesy Nissan Art Award.

Hikaru Fujii has been named the winner of the Nissan Art Award 2017 Grand Prix. The award was established in 2013 to support the careers of promising artists. Fujii’s winning work, Playing Japanese (2017), is a multi-channel video installation that features footage gathered at a workshop where he asked dozens of strangers to “perform” what it means to be Japanese, and includes reenactments of actual events from around a century ago. The artist explores the effects of Japan’s historical contact with foreign entities, explaining his hopes that viewers would “examine carefully the ways we are the same as people in the past, and the ways that we are different.”

The jury chairman of this year’s iteration of the award, Fumio Nanjo, said, “Fujii’s artwork broaches an extremely complex period of Japanese history from around when the nation started to interact with other cultures [. . .] Responding also to the state of affairs in the world today, his superb work transcends cultures and nationalities to resonate with all kinds of people.”

This year’s jury for the biennial award comprised of Nanjo, who is the director of Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum; Jean de Loisy, director of Palais de Tokyo in Paris; Sunjung Kim, director of Seoul’s Art Sonje Center; Jessica Morgan, director of Dia Art Foundation in New York; and Lawrence Rinder, director and chief curator of the Berkeley Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

De Loisy referred to the selection process for the five finalists as “a discovery of what is happening on the creation scene in Japan.” Five artists—Nami Yokoyama, Motoyuki Daifu, Ryuichi Ishikawa, Yuichiro Tamura and Fujii—were chosen in May as contenders for this year’s Nissan Art Award. They received JPY 1 million (USD 8,900) in prize money and funding from Nissan to create new works of art, which were put on display at BankART Studio NYK in Yokohama on September 16, coinciding with this year’s Yokohama Triennale. During the first 11 days of the exhibition at BankART, attendees voted for Yokoyama to receive the Audience Award. The exhibition runs until November 5, 2017.

Aside from the winner’s prize money amounting to JPY 5 million (USD 44,500) and a trophy, Fujii will participate in a three-month artist residency program at the International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York.

Brady Ng is the reviews editor of ArtAsiaPacific.

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