In the two years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, many of Japan’s visual artists and curators have cobbled together art-related events and projects with the aim of lending support to the people in the affected areas. Almost as many have struggled trying to put art to some practical use — group “performances” for clearing debris, for example, or “workshops” for entertaining those at evacuation centers.
Now, a new approach is being tried — and its unabashed simplicity appears likely to ensure its success. “Jakuchu’s Here!” is a no-holds-barred blockbuster exhibition bringing together more than 100 quality artworks from the mid- to late-Edo Period — especially those by the popular Ito Jakuchu (1716-1800). The key to the show’s genius is there in its title: “here!” Where? Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, that’s where — not the profitable population centers of Tokyo and Kyoto, to which such big-time shows usually stick like magnets, but the three prefectures hit hardest by the quake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.