at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, the International Istanbul Biennial,
now in its seventh year, has emerged as a truly global art event. This
year's Biennial has been directed and curated by Yuko Hasegawa from Japan.
A 'highlights' exhibition from the Biennial is on show in Tokyo, at the
Tokyo Opera City Gallery, and includes the work of 13 artists from 10
In a sign of these technological times, this exhibition runs concurrently
with the Biennial and the works are on display simultaneously at the two
venues. The Tokyo exhibition consists of reproducible works such as computer
animation, video and photo image based.
The title of the Biennial, EGOFUGAL is the combination of Ego (self) and
fugal (Latin, secession/withdrawal) and the result of spending too much
time with a dictionary. The title aims to encapsulate the exhibition's
theme of artists' struggle between their egotistical individual pursuits
and their social responsibilities. According to the catalogue, the title
and exhibition records 'a shift from the 3M's Ð Man, Money and Materialism
to the 3C's Ð Co-existence, Collective intelligence and Collective consciousness'.
Fortunately, you can simply enjoy the art without cryptic crossword abilities.
There is great warmth and humanity in the work, 'Sleepers', by Francis
Alys. Belgian born but now living in Mexico, Alys presents about 60 color
slides of people and animals sleeping in the streets of Mexico city. Drenched
in golden rays of sunshine, his images capture people and animals snoozing,
oblivious to the passing world.
Alys's has a compassionate photographic style. Each image is taken from
ground level, placing the viewer on the streets with the subject. Each
image is bathed in a golden light, which seems to radiate from the slide
onto those observing. And his photographs, taken from some distance, do
not seem to invade the privacy of the sleeping subject, as rarely is there
even a glimpse of a sleeper's face exposed. The shots of sleeping dogs,
endearing and innocent seem to only add to the gentleness of his somnolent
In the work, 'Star city', by British video artists and twin sisters, Jane
and Louise Wilson no humans appear. Their multi-screened, video installation,
records a disused Soviet space training facility. The camera and bits
of machinery are constantly in motion in their roller coaster tour of
Also exploring a retro-space theme is the work of Australian artists,
David Noonan and Simon Trevaks. Their video installation of floating and
isolated astronauts is reminiscent of Sci-fi movies such as '2001 a Space
Chris Cunningham's MTV styled rock videos made for Bjork and Aphex Twin,
are fresh off the TV and onto gallery walls. In contrast is the work of
Yutaka Stone, Japan's hot conceptual artist. He specializes in long, badly
shot and edited home videos of his journeys. 'A Beautiful Day', a trip
from the sea to the mountains in California, is on display in the exhibition.
The value of this exhibition is the variety of contemporary art presented
from many different countries. It demonstrates the power of art to communicate
emotions and complex issues.
Also of note were the works of Evgen Bavcar, a blind Slovenian photographer,
and Maja Bajevic from Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bajevic's project 'Women at
Work', documented the making of a tapestry by refugee women on a safety
net at a building repair site. While being alphabet soup 'Egofugal', is
a very tasty sampler of international contemporary art.