press release

The very first edition of Saitama Triennale 2016, an international art festival held in the city of Saitama, will launch today for an exhibit of 79 days until December 11. Held under the theme Envisioning the Future!, the festival will feature 34 artists from 10 nations under the direction of Takashi Serizawa. Below is an interview with the director:

Director inteview

In comparison to other art biennales and triennales around Japan, what is the particular creative identity for the Saitama Triennale?

Saitama Triennale is unique in its standing point that it is not a typical urban art festival that has an influential museum or art center as its core, or a localized tourism-based art festival that has backups from its tourism resources such as breathtaking natural sceneries of beautiful satoyamas or island-studded seascapes or onsen. In fact, I realize there never has been any art festival based on the idea of featuring the residential areas itself.

My interpretation is that this triennale is part of the “soft-urbanism” planning. How do we trigger the citizen’s minds towards culture and art to lead to its full bloom? Maintenance towards such infrastructure is needed. This triennale is not a transient event that gathers tourists, but instead, would be its first step of such time consuming attempt of soft-urbanism.


What has been the challenge for developing this new event?
What kind of place is Saitama? All began from this question.

Thus, we formed a research team named “Saitama Studies” as the cornerstone of the triennale. We found out people had been living here since the Jomon era. Now it serves as homes for some 1.27 million people. The area had been a place for people to live throughout all this time. I understood that Saitama city had been a Seikatsu Toshi (city of the dwellers) representing Japan, and started to think what art could do in such space.

Saitama city only has small areas of typical urban landscapes of skyscraper buildings, or the iconic Japanese Satoyama landscapes. What magnificently spreading are residential areas of new and old, some bawdy downtown areas, narrowest paths here and there, greenery views, forest areas, farmlands and fields, and natural landscapes with the riverbeds, woven in as a complicated patchwork.

Instead of the description “it doesn’t have anything,” it sounded more accurate to describe, “it has everything.” Furthermore, I felt such landscape was the most typical and most representative view of “current Japan.” A naturally evolving, non-planned urbanized, magnificent daily scenes. Day-to-day living is something magnificent. Daily life is something magnificent. But we get used to it too much that our mental tend to become stiffened. Indeed, a living place is practical. Our senses become paralyzed and imaginations tend to become contracted. Thus, here we insert an extraordinary essence of art. That is what this triennale is challenging.

I position this triennale as the “festival of imagination—emerging from the Seikatsu toshi (city of the dwellers).”


How did you come to settle on the theme of Envisioning the Future!?

I feel the largest crisis of this modern society is that each of our own imagination has begun to shrink. To envision the future is different from accepting one future from someone. It is something that each unique citizen’s would envision. If such force of imagination/envisioning is decreasing, this is a serious crisis. The future I speak here is not only positive visions. My true thoughts behind this triennale’s theme Envisioning the future! is that everyone would once again question himself or herself, “are we fine to be in this state now?” It is such moment when we start self-questioning ourselves, that the artists’ various ways of visioning highly become in use.


Takashi Serizawa

Saitama Triennale Executive Committee

Akiyama Sayaka, Aigars Bikše, Choi Jeong Hwa, Fujishiro Hikari, Daniel Göttin, Hibino Katsuhiko, HomeBase Project, Isobe Yukihisa, Jacsha, Kawano Ryuzo, Okui Lala, Long Film Theatre, Adam Magyar, Matsuda Masataka & Endo Mikihiro & Mikami Ryo, Mé, Mukaiyama Tomoko, Nagashima Kaku & The Team for Yajirushi, New Antique, Nishio Yoshinari, Noguchi Rika, Okada Toshiki, Oozu Daisaku, Otomo Yoshihide & Asian Music Network, Ozawa Tsuyoshi, Wisut Ponnimit, Seo Min Jeong, Saitama Muse Forum (SMF), Duncan Speakman & Sarah Anderson, Suzuki Momoko, Takada Akiko & Masako, Tawada Yoko, Matej Andraž Vogrinčič, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Yoon Hansol (34 artists, from 10 nations, in alphabetical order)