Alternating Currents is a major exhibition developed by PICA and the Japan Foundation and sponsored by Allens Arthur Robinson, that presents significant new work by six contemporary Japanese artists, artist collectives and musicians. Spanning a number of generations, the artists in this exhibition have multi and interdisciplinary approaches to their art making that encompass performance, film, installation, sound art and music. Their works interrogate notions of live art practice, involving local artists and communities on different levels and in a number of instances in ways that reflect on the local and global effects of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan earlier this year.
The works in this exhibition will surprise, delight and provoke visitors to PICA and in some cases encourage them to become active participants. Audiences will be prompted to buy and consume a ‘local delicacy’, experience a giant game, walk on charcoal and contribute to an international ‘conference’ on the Reconstruction of Japan.
Alternating Currents is one of three connected projects that came out of a month long residency for 16 emerging curators from around Asia that was held in Japan last year and facilitated by the Japan Foundation. PICA’s Leigh Robb was one of these, and she, together with Azusa Hashimoto, Curator at the National Museum of Art, Osaka and Jaime Pacena II, an Independent Curator based in Manila, will curate Alternating Currents, one of the first shows to offer Perth audiences a unique engagement with current Japanese art practices.
The word ‘Current’ has multiple meanings which lends itself productively to the curatorial premise of this exhibition, but which also extends to the connected exhibitions that will take place in India and Singapore in 2012, under the collective title Omnilogue, a term designed to present a multiple exchange of culture, ideas and processes between different curators and artists working on this project. ‘Current’ as an adjective can refer to contemporaneity, something happening now, the most recent, something in the present – such as the Japanese interdisciplinary art practices which embrace performance, music, collaboration and respond to local community in the 21st century.
‘Current’ as a noun also refers to water, to a flow, to a fluid movement. This understanding of the word also relates specifically to Perth, a city which sits on the Swan River, a water way that extends into the Indian Ocean. These bodies of water, and the currents that they produce, connect the three countries involved in the Omnilogue project: Australia, India and Singapore. ‘Current’ also refers to electricity – a flow of an electric charge between two points which can be also be thought of as a form of communication – a dialogue, which is what the exhibition hopes to encourage between Japanese artists and the local Perth community and art scene, as well as a dialogue between East Asian countries.
The artists who will be producing work for Alternating Currents have all been invited to create new works responding to the curatorial premise and to the location.