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OSAKA

All aboard for Art Area B1

by Edan Corkill

Staff Writer

If you can’t bring the people to the art, take the art to the people: This thinking, which for more than a decade has inspired art-in-the-street and art-in-the-countryside projects, last year engendered its oddest event yet: “Art-in-the-underground-train-station-concourse”!

Still, as the so-called Art Area B1 at Naniwabashi Station, Osaka, kicks off its second annual “Tetsudo Geijutsusai” (railway art festival) this weekend, it’s clear that while the underlying concept might be muddled, the selection of artists is not.

Last year’s star was Tatsu Nishino, who is currently making headlines in New York for building a living room around the 21-meter-high statue at Columbus Circle. At Naniwabashi he constructed a two-story “house” that was also a net cafe. This year, he passes the baton to artist-photographer Miwa Yanagi, who represented Japan at the 2009 Venice Biennale.

Yanagi’s presentation, which will continue through Dec. 24, is centered around a faux train station platform, where she and other guest performers such as the Formant Brothers will stage various events. Her own production will take up a favorite theme: elevator girls. Through open workshops held at the venue, she hopes to unearth elevator talent who will then perform in a play she will present at the venue in December. That play will be set in the early 20th century, which was of course the “golden age” of not just department-stores and their elevators but train travel, too.

Now it all makes sense!

“Tetsudo Geijutsusai will take place at Art Area B1, Naniwabashi Station in Osaka. For more information visit artarea-b1.jp.