Originally published on iki-mono-arts.com, ‘Seven Finalists’ was written by Nick West and edited by Annabel James.
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Started in 2013 to mark 80 years since Nissan was founded, the second instalment of the Nissan Art Award is now underway. The competition was established “to celebrate new expressions in Japanese contemporary art and help provoke debate about visual art”, and is held every two years at BankART Studio NYK in Yokohama. Selected by an international jury of museum directors are seven finalists whose work has been shortlisted from a list of 33 nominees. During the exhibition’s initial opening period, visitors may cast votes to decide the winner of the Audience Award while the jury deliberates over the Grand Prize.
Unlike other contemporary art awards that seek to shed light on younger artists, the Nissan Art Award doesn’t set an age limit. This has the benefit of presenting artists who have cultivated longer-standing reputations alongside those artists who haven’t. From a visitor’s perspective, it’s quite a generous prospect as you are likely to see works by artists you know alongside some you don’t. That said, being well known in itself won’t necessarily assure you the Grand Prize.
The inaugural prize was won by Aiko Miyanaga, an artist whose sculptures encase ordinary objects in the chemical naphthalene; chairs, keys and slippers are caught in a kind of stasis, as if frozen in blocks of glass. In the present exhibition, with the notable exception of Tomoko Yoneda’s photography, an overwhelming proportion of the finalists display works that fall under the broad category of installation art. From assemblages and video projections to threaded yarn and moving mirrors, the diversity of the works on show demonstrates how adaptive installation art is to experimental practices.
The choice of the seven finalists was “based on whether the works are accessible for the audience to engage with, and/or experiment with new materials and ways of thinking.” With this in mind, in the spirit of the Audience Award, here follow seven images of the finalists’ work:
Takahiro Iwasaki, ‘Reflection Model (Rashomon Effect) (2015) Japanese cypress, plywood, Chinese ink, wire. Installation view. Photo: Nick West

Takahiro Iwasaki, ‘Reflection Model (Rashomon Effect) (2015) Japanese cypress, plywood, Chinese ink, wire. Installation view. Photo: Nick West

Suspended dramatically in the first room is a work by Takahiro Iwasaki. Often incorporating architectural elements, the artist has become well known for hanging pairs of model buildings in gallery spaces as to show the building reflected in water.
Tomoko Yoneda, close up from ‘Neither Victims nor Executioners’ (2015). Photo: Keizo Kioku

Tomoko Yoneda, ‘Neither Victims nor Executioners’ (2015). Photo: Keizo Kioku

Tomoko Yoneda’s ‘Neither Victims nor Executioners’ is a reference to Albert Camus’ essay of the same name. Having established a body of work that documents present day sites of historical conflict, here the artist presents photographs of commemoration.
Takashi Ishida, ‘Square Window’ (2015). HD video. 6 mins, 30 secs. Installation view. Photo: ??

Takashi Ishida, ‘Square Window’ (2015). HD video. 6 mins, 30 secs. Installation view. Photo: Keizo Kioku

Barely six months since Takashi Ishida enjoyed his first major solo exhibition at the Yokohama Museum of Art, here the artist projects an animated video which depicts paint spreading through an interior, filling, emptying and repainting the space – like something between a window and a canvas.
Sayaka Akiyama, ‘EROSION /1 19 29 10/3 11/7 8 13’ (2015). A variety of things I encountered in Yokohama. Detailed view. Photo: Hideto Nagatsuka

Sayaka Akiyama, ‘EROSION /1 19 29 10/3 11/7 8 13’ (2015). A variety of things I encountered in Yokohama. Detailed view. Photo: Hideto Nagatsuka

A large linen tent levitates in the second room. On its walls are maps sewn in stray textile fragments. Relating to routes that Akiyama takes, often biographical elements like tickets and delivery notes are incorporated too.
Futoshi Miyagi, ‘A Photography of a Soldier in a Matchbox’ (2015). Digital C-Print. 508 x 610mm Installation view. Photo: Keizo Kioku

Futoshi Miyagi, ‘A Photography of a Soldier in a Matchbox’ (2015). Digital C-Print. 508 x 610mm Installation view. Photo: Keizo Kioku

Using video, sound and objects, Miyagi lets in the viewer in to tell stories that seem biographical. Always concerning relationships, his work feels personal while it resonates nationally; between Okinawa and America, a violin and piano duet, and about sexuality.
Tsuyoshi Hisakado, ‘Quantize #5’ (detailed view) (2015). Sound, light bulb, aluminium, brass, wood, georgette, paper, clock movement, pencil lead, mirror, battery. Photo: Nick West

Tsuyoshi Hisakado, ‘Quantize #5’ (detailed view) (2015). Photo: Nick West

Sequin-like clocks without numbers rotate on a large surface on the far wall of a room. A flickering light produces fleeting effects, while white noise is pumped in from elsewhere.
Yuko Mohri, ‘Moré Moré (Leaky): The Falling Water Given #1-3’ (2015). Wood, umbrella, hose, PET bottles, rubber glove, bucket, wheel, duster, sponge, pump, acrylic resin. Photo: Keizo Kioku

Yuko Mohri, ‘Moré Moré (Leaky): The Falling Water Given #1-3’ (2015). Photo: Keizo Kioku

Assembled from readymades, Yuko Mohri’s installation makes use of two distinct references. The first is local; the improvised plumbing found at railway stations. The second is art historical; Marcel Duchamp’s ‘The Bride Stripped Bare By Bachelors, Even’ (‘The Large Glass’) (1915-23).
As for the results, Tsuyoshi Hisakado won the Audience Award and Yuko Mohri won the Grand Prize.
The Nissan Art Award is on from 14th November until 27th December 2015 at BankART Studio NYK. Free entry.
©Nick West 2015