Since the late 1980s and acceleratedly in the 1990s, exhibitions on contemporary art from so-called non-Western countries have widely held in the international venues. Japan was also in its party. This development on the tide of globalization, particularly into the art market, would be no surprise, but what is striking is that the contemporary visual productions seem to be circumscribed ever since based on their “origination,” for example, within the uniform genre of “Japanese contemporary art” – irrespective of where artists are educated or residing and in spite of transcultural quality in their works without indications of obviously visible “Japanese-ness” – seemingly as a label not only to differentiate from (Western) contemporary art, but also to hierarchize in the global art order wherein contemporary art “originating” from the West takes the highest position. It proves inertness of the art criticism and art theory in the age of globalization merely engaging the same habitual – Eurocentric – manner as how the discipline of Art History has always dealt with so-called non-Western art(ifact) based on geographical distance and cultural/aesthetical differences. While inquiring critically into this cultural imaginations succeeded into art critical discourses in the age of globalization as a point of departure, she intends to explore the possibility of multiple and subversive reading of “Japanese contemporary art,” in order to seek establishing various models for transculturality in contemporary art.
Takako Kondo approaches (Japanese) contemporary art as a site wherein competing transcultural/transnational ideologies are intertwined and as well as as a tool to demonstrate the limit of applicability of Art History. For this dissertation project, she focuses on (re)presentation of “Japanese contemporary art” in art critical and theoretical discourses from the late 1980s in the realms of English and Japanese languages, including artists’ own critical writings. By drawing on theories of (cultural) translation and comparative literature, she intends to conduct her research on (Japanese) contemporary art as a subject of (cultural) translation, rather than that of art historical study. In this interdisciplinary as well as comparative research project, she investigate in what ways and for what – aesthetic, cultural, political – purposes the idea of “Japanese contemporary art” is constructed (dis)similarly in the West and Japan by deploying “Japanese-ness,” whereas analyzing the ways in which it is contested, for example by artists themselves in order to transcend “Japan,” i.e. the Other, by means of artistic/visual languages. It is also her purpose to explore to what extent the concept of “art” serves mutual intelligibility within recent art historical and theoretical discourses, despite of its linguistic, cultural, historical differences with that of 美術 orアート in Japanese.