Numéro art: For 20 years you’ve been one of the most active Japanese curators on the international scene, addressing the changes taking place in the contemporary world from a unique perspective in shows such as De-Genderism [Setagaya Art Museum, Tokyo, 1997], Sensorium [MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, 2007] and New Sensorium [ZKM, Karlsruhe, 2016].
Yuko Hasegawa: I’m particularly sensitive to how we think about the body, and the way perception of it affects artistic practices. Our environment is constantly evolving, there have been radical changes in the media, and our bodies respond differently to these new parameters. They’re the transmission zone that allows us to still be connected to others and to handle change. That’s why I’m interested in all types of artistic practice, be it art (especially performance), fashion or design. I’m as interested in the physical body as in the “subjective” and “augmented” body because it’s an intrinsic part of our identity, which is a combination of our origins, our identification as a human being and the memories contained within us. The subjective body is an augmented body, so it’s a question of adjusting these corporeal memories to the multiple layers of our environment.
“The strange, the disturbing and the grotesque are important concepts found in many works, like those of Takashi Murakami or Yoshitomo Nara, references to the kawaii [cute] movement.”
Your interpretation of art in Japan is one that distances itself from Western influences.
Unlike the 1986 Centre Pompidou show Japon des avant-gardes 1910-1970, which aimed to highlight the link with Western culture and thought, I offer another perspective on this relationship. The concept of the avant-garde is a purely Western idea, and you could call my perspective post avant-garde to the extent that I highlight artists who developed their practices at a distance from Western influence. For example, the Mono-ha movement, which emerged in the late 1960s, is constantly compared to Arte Povera. The artists of Mono-ha obviously knew Arte Povera, but their thinking was original and their ideas totally different. Similarly, in the 1980s, the techno-pop group Yellow Magic Orchestra developed its aesthetics outside of the Western canons, combining an innovative electronic sound with influences from folk and ethnic music.