Shinsei Bank, Omotesando Hills
Closes in 89 days
Omotesando Hills has been beset by controversy since its foundations were laid. The demolition of the 1920s Bauhaus-inspired Dojunkai apartments, followed by the construction of the 250-meter-long apartment/shopping complex reopened the debate over preservation versus redevelopment in Tokyo’s ever-changing cityscape.
Above the building’s facade of screens is another, smaller screen for Shinsei Bank, which opens its new branch there tomorrow. Between sequences of promotional imagery comes an unassuming video work of cherry blossom branches swaying in the wind. Commissioned with only two weeks’ notice, the work is a first-time collaboration by Australian artist Rosslynd Piggott, Italian photographer Roberto Giostra and Australian glass artist Edison, who were brought together for the project by curator Johnnie Walker.
Inside the bank’s premises, Piggott has set up a small installation of four fragile glass vessels, which she used to collect air from underneath the cherry blossom trees surrounding the Imperial Palace. The title “Yamazakura (mountain cherry blossom)” has been used in Japanese history as a metaphor for the duality of the samurai spirit, which is both strong and gentle. Two of the glass vessels are concealed in bags made from the cloth used to make kimono, and in there also lurk photographs of a mysterious, undisclosed content relating to the theme of the work.
For many, one more screen in the Tokyo streetscape and a small-scale art installation in a bank may go completely unnoticed. But the relationship between art and business is an uneasy one, and any art work which manages to overcome that difficulty is worth consideration.