This year, the contemporary artist/provocateur Makoto Aida took inspiration from a 19th-century Kuniyoshi Utagawa woodblock print in which the 10th-century princess and witch, Takiyasha, summoned a skeletal ghost to menace the emperor’s official mystic Oya no Taro Mitsukuni.

Aida’s massive installation, “Monument for Nothing V” (2019), is a starving skeletal specter in bedraggled World War II military uniform, representing the war dead. An outstretched hand points to and touches the tip the National Diet building, modeled after a funerary headstone, apportioning contemporary complicity. The installation is one of four commissioned to dovetail with the historical sections comprising “Heroes and People in the Japanese Contemporary Art,” at the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art.

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