13. Japanese Pavilion – en : art of nexus
Commissioner: The Japan Foundation. Curators: Yoshiyuki Yamana. Exhibitors: Seiichi Hishikawa, mnm (Mio Tsuneyama); ondesign (Osamu Nishida); Erika Nakagawa; Naruse Inokuma Architects (Jun Inokuma, Yuri Naruse); Naka Architects’ Studio (Toshiharu Naka, Yuri Uno); Nousaku Architects (Fuminori Nousaku, Junpei Nousaku); miCo. (Mizuki Imamura, Isao Shinohara); Levi Architecture (Jun Nakagawa); Shingo Masuda + Katsuhisa Otsubo Architects (Shingo Masuda, Katsuhisa Otsubo); Koji Aoki Architects (Koji Aoki); 403architecture [dajiba] (Takuma Tsuji, Takeshi Hashimoto, Toru Yada; BUS (Satoru Ito, Kosuke Bando, Issei Suma); dot architects (Toshikatsu Ienari, Takeshi Shakushiro, Wataru Doi), teco (Chie Konno, Rie Allison).
Japan’s national pavilion was another favourite of the Biennale awards jury, who awarded it a special commendation. The exhibition titled, EN (縁), is a Japanese word meaning both “relationship” and “opportunity”, curated by Yoshiyuki Yamana from the Tokyo University of Science, it is different from other more “conceptual” ones, and is quite traditional in its layout and clearly focused on built architecture.
The starting point is the subterranean contradictions which have characterized Japan since the early 2000s, which include a growing unemployment rate (especially for young people), increasing social inequality, and a diffused disillusion about those optimistic visions of the future. A country that experienced a spectacular growth and modernization for at least four decades in a row, after the end of the World War Two.
Yet, such problematic situation is also fostering a novel approach to the relationship among people and between people and architecture. Hence, the curator has choose to present the work of a new generation of younger Japanese architects which is investigating how architecture could be an instrument to re-create a social network, based on solidarity, opposed to the diktats of an intransigent neoliberalism. A neoliberalism which many Japanese now identify with dramatic events such as the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Therefore, all the architectures presented focus on the idea of sharing values, resources and lifestyles, opposed to the selfish approach to life and society encouraged by the principle of social competition.