tatzu nishi on the power of art to expand the imagination of humankind

tatzu nishi on the power of art to expand the imagination of humankind


DB: why has it been important for you to create work that is accessible to the general public, and that can reach audiences outside of gallery settings?

 

TN: the answer is likely to be long.

 

when I was a college student in germany, I started to present my work outdoors to an audience of ordinary people who are not usually interested in art. before that, I started showing my work in museums and galleries, but I was bored that the value of my work was determined only by the narrow art world. I think the situation is different in art museums and galleries — such as new york, where many tourists come. but other than those places, people who come to see contemporary art are limited to art museum officials, collectors, critics, art college students and other art-related people. it’s easy to think that culture is important for those who can afford food, clothing and shelter. is culture necessary for those who can not?

tatzu nishi
beppu tower jizo | tatzu nishi in beppu: october 28 – december 24, 2017, beppu/japan | presented by beppu project

 

 

TN (continued): I believe that the reason for the existence of art for humankind is the expansion of human imagination. having more imagination will also give you the ability to look ahead and avoid danger, reducing the chance of mistaking your future direction. think of yourself — when you think about your future, at the crossroads of your life, you should make the most of your imagination and look for a better direction. reading books and listening to others is of course important, but in the end you rely solely on your imagination to determine your life. enriching the imagination of an individual leads to the expansion of the imagination of humankind. art plays an important role so that we do not misunderstand the direction that humankind is aiming for. with that in mind, art must be as wide and fair as water and air. it is the right to live, like education.

tatzu nishi
only good memories remain after all | image by nobumitsu wakiya
tatzu nishi in beppu | october 28 – december 24, 2017, beppu/japan | presented by beppu project

 

 

TN (continued): having come up with this idea, I began to show my work outdoors, assuming that all people were spectators. from the time I entered japanese art university, I had it as a proposition that I had to solve, ‘why does a person want to show work to others after making it?’ basically, why do artists exist? if you just want to make it out of your own interest, you shouldn’t have to show it to anyone. I like to make works, but why is there a desire to display the finished product? I’ve been looking for the answer for a long time, but the answer I came up with was the one I said earlier. isn’t it the reason why artists don’t stop producing even if they don’t sell or are poor? isn’t it because they unknowingly feel that they are contributing to humanity just by living? it says ‘accepted by the general public’, but art does not have to be ‘accepted’ at all. having a strong dislike of the work has already stimulated a person’s imagination. the most meaningless works of art are those that do not generate impressions and those that are passed through.  

tatzu nishi on the power of art to expand the imagination
only good memories remain after all | image by tetsuya yashiro
tatzu nishi in beppu | october 28 – december 24, 2017, beppu/japan | presented by beppu project

 

 

DB: you have developed projects all over the world — which city that you have created work in has made the biggest impression on you? why?

 

TN: new york and shenzhen are very lively and I love them, but when asked what are my favorite places in the world, I say medellin, the second largest city in colombia. this city in south america had the worst homicide rate in the 1990s due to a conflict with the world’s largest drug organization, the medellin cartel. as a result, deteriorating security and poverty were widespread in the wake of almost destroying the drug organizations. in 2013, it was transformed into a smart city at such a rapid pace that it was selected as the ‘innovative city of the year’.

 

I visited this city for an exhibition in 2007. in an attempt to revitalize the town culture, I was planning and implementing a free classical concert in a public park, setting up a public artwork, and an exhibition of contemporary art that I was invited to do. after that, a huge library was built in the area where the poor lived — and of course that wasn’t the only reason — but it was a city that believed in the power of culture and has been brilliantly regenerated.

tatzu nishi on the power of art to expand the imagination
can we be released from beppu’s fascination? | image by nobuhiro wakiya
tatzu nishi in beppu | october 28 – december 24, 2017, beppu/japan | presented by beppu project

 

 

DB: your work often creates unusual encounters and surprising experiences — what do you hope audiences feel? what do you hope your work creates a discussion about?

 

TN: I don’t explain to the audience how I want them to feel with my work. for me — someone who defines the reason for the existence of art as ‘expansion of imagination’ — I don’t want to disturb the free imagination of the audience. even if my work has some thoughts in it, I don’t force you to understand them. I hope the viewer feels something freely. I can’t think of anything other than ‘what is art’ as the desired theme to create discussion in my work. I’m not creating a work of art to criticize, or criticize something. even if picasso portrays guernica in an attempt to express the misery of war, what should be criticized is what new adventures are being made as a work of art. a superficial understanding, such as ‘the misery of war strikes my heart,’ can only equalize the imagination. in that sense, I consider guernica to be the farthest piece of picasso’s work from art. 

tatzu nishi on the power of art to expand the imagination
a doll’s house | image by tadzio
in the exhibition ‘encore un jour rêvé pour le poisson banana’| june 21 – september 9, 2018 at palais de tokyo, paris

 

 

DB: which project or period of your career have you enjoyed the most so far?

 

TN: if you consider that ‘enjoying’ includes the ‘pain’ to reach it, you can say that the project that was difficult, but had a big harvest was ‘enjoyed’. in one city, ‘obdach’ in cologne, germany in 1997, which first realized the idea of building a room around a statue, and ‘discovering columbus’ in new york, 2011, which took three years to realize. another example is the 2017 solo exhibition ‘tatzu nishi in beppu’ in japan, in which I showed four huge outdoor works and one indoor exhibition at the same time.



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