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  • Jul 31, 2020

Japanese Art "Stars" Lead Mori's Return

Installation view of "STARS: Six Contemporary Artists from Japan to the World" at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2020. Photo by Takayama Kozo. Courtesy Mori Art Museum.

Tokyo’s private Mori Art Museum finally reopened its doors to the public today, after five months of temporary closure due to the outbreak of Covid-19. The Mori is the latest museum to reopen since prime minister Shinzo Abe lifted the country’s national state of emergency on May 25.

The museum is restarting its 2020 program with the highly anticipated exhibition “STARS: Six Contemporary Artists from Japan to the World,” featuring works from six renowned figures, Yayoi Kusama, Tatsuo Miyajima, Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Lee Ufan. Originally planned to coincide with the now postponed 2020 Summer Olympics, the group show traverses through each artist’s pursuit of transnational issues and aesthetics, and touches on the expansive trajectory of contemporary art in Japan. Alongside the exhibition are three other programs, all on view until January 3, 2021: Muted Situation #22: Muted Tchaikovsky’s 5th (2018), a sound and video installation by Samson Young; As If I Don’t Fit There (2006), a short film by director Mounira Al-Solh; and sculptural pieces by Si On

Similar to other institutions, preventative measures are in place including the requirement of advanced booking for designated admission slots, in addition to mandatory face masks upon entry, and the checking of body temperature and personal details.

Public museums such as the Tokyo National Museum, Kyoto National Museum, Nara National Museum, and the Kyushu National Museum have resumed services since June 2, all with reduced capacity and partial access to museum spaces. Others, such as the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Yokohama Museum of Art, and Toyko's Yamatane Museum of Art, reopened on July 1, July 17, and July 18 respectively, and have been operating in accordance to their regular schedules.  

Businesses in Japan have been cautiously adapting to the “new normal” while resuming operations, as events of up to 5,000 participants have been permitted since July 10. However, like many other places in Asia, Japan has recently witnessed another surge of Covid-19 cases in July, with all 47 prefectures reporting new infections. Tokyo confirmed 367 new cases on July 30, the third consecutive day that daily cases have surpassed the 200 mark; Japan reached a new daily record of 1,305 cases nationwide. While the Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike has called for increased vigilance on Thursday including the restriction of service hours for restaurants and bars, the likelihood of the government declaring a second state of emergency is unclear at the moment.

Jae Lamb is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.

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