Embassy of Japan Withdraws Approval for Vienna Art Exhibition

The Japanese Embassy in Austria withdrew its approval for an art exhibition in Vienna to mark 150 years of bilateral diplomatic relations, considering some critical works of art inappropriate, according to the embassy and organizers.

The Japan Unlimited exhibition, held since late September with the help of the Austrian Foreign Ministry, features some work on the theme of the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011, as well as the history of wartime Japan.

Some artists attending the Austrian event also attended the “After 'Freedom of Expression?'” Exhibition in Nagoya, which sparked controversy.

Withdrawal of approval came after an unidentified Japanese lawmaker, who learned of the artists' participation in the Nagoya and Vienna exhibitions, asked the Japanese Foreign Ministry to investigate the matter.

The embassy said its officials who visited the exhibition concluded that it did not facilitate mutual understanding and friendship between the two countries and notified organizers of the withdrawal of its approval on 30 in October.

The exhibit, scheduled for November 24, will continue without the official logo indicating the event as a birthday project.

The artworks at the exhibition included one showing blood depicted in the form of the rising sun symbol of Japan dripping from radiation protection equipment and a video of a person posing as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe apologizing to China and Korea. South for the aggression of the country during the war.

A play based on a photo of Emperor Hirohito, posthumously known as Emperor Showa, and Douglas MacArthur, supreme commander of the Allied Powers that occupied Japan after World War II, also satirises Japan's relations with the United States.

The Vienna exhibition aimed to highlight some of “Japan's most active artists who engage with the limits and opportunities of political and socially critical art in their country,” according to the curator's website.

Japan's After After Freedom of Expression? Exhibition, held as part of the Aichi 2019 Triennial Art Festival between August 1 and October 14, provoked a backlash in some quarters as it featured a statue symbolizing “women of comfort ”who were forced to work in Japan's military brothels during the war.

The exhibition lasted 10 days in total due to a wave of protests and threats.

Japan's culture agency announced in September its decision not to provide state subsidies for the Aichi art festival, saying it was not informed in advance that the exhibition could trigger a protest that would undermine the smooth running of the event.

Source: Kyodo

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