KANTEN 観展: The Limits of History

Curated by Eimi Tagore-Erwin

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KANTEN 観展 is a play on the Japanese kanji for 観点 kanten, perspective, and 展覧会 tenrankai, art exhibition—coming together to indicate an exhibition of perspectives. KANTEN examines Japan’s expansionism during the Asia Pacific war from an array of viewpoints, exposing the considerable ways in which the past can be visualized and remembered.

The seven artists featured in this multimedia exhibition navigate, reevaluate, and process generational memory—creating artworks that delve into complex issues that have long been established as “history.” Together, these artists demonstrate very distinctive approaches to both the material and immaterial traces of wartime displacement and imperial subjectivization, the blurring of national boundaries, as well as the role of the US in the aftermath of the Asia Pacific War. By juxtaposing their work with a collection of original Japanese wartime postcards, KANTEN aims to reveal the limits of memory, narrative, and testimony.

With nationalism and neoliberal patriotism on the rise around the globe, it is becoming more urgent to explore art’s power to both construct and dismantle national histories. As one of the first US exhibitions on this subject, KANTEN broadens the resistance against an enduring reluctance to confront the underside of history—especially when it paints a disturbing picture.
  • artists:
    Bontaro Dokuyama
    Taro Furukata
    Soni Kum
    Ken Okiishi
    Haji Oh
    Motoyuki Shitamichi
    The East Asia Image Collection, Lafayette College
Eimi Tagore-Erwinis a doctoral candidate of East Asian Studies at New York University and an emerging curator. Her research focus is contemporary Transpacific art engaging with colonial history, memory, and politics. She recently curated Floating Monuments: Motoyuki Shitamichi at Alison Bradley Projects and is a 2023 Curatorial Fellow at the Shigeko Kubota Video Art Foundation. She was a 2021 Wikipedia Fellow for PoNJA-Genkon and Asia Art Archive in America, where she focused on Japanese artists who have faced censorship.

apexart’s program supporters past and present include the National Endowment for the Arts, Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, the Kettering Family Foundation, the Buhl Foundation, The Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Spencer Brownstone, the Kenneth A. Cowin Foundation, Epstein Teicher Philanthropies, The Greenwich Collection Ltd., William Talbott Hillman Foundation/Affirmation Arts Fund, the Fifth Floor Foundation, the Consulate General of Israel in New York, The Puffin Foundation, the Trust for Mutual Understanding, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Governor and administered by LMCC, funds from NYSCA Electronic Media/Film in Partnership with Wave Farm: Media Arts Assistance Fund, with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, as well as the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.