Krazy Exhibition at the Japan Society in New York

Feb 26th 2009
Pac-Man, Paprika, Super Mario, and Afro Samurai: Welcome to New York!

For Immediate Release

Japan Society Gallery Celebrates the Japanese Art Forms of Anime, Manga, and Video Games in Spring 2009

New York, NY -- Once considered the preserve of an insular youth culture, within the last decade Japanese animated cartoons (anime), comics and illustrated narratives (manga), and interactive video games have migrated into the mainstream, with reverberations both high and low. In a first for New York City, Japan Society explores this phenomenon in KRAZY! The Delirious World of Anime + Manga + Video Games from March 13 through June 14, 2009.

Displayed in a series of enveloping spaces designed to evoke Tokyo's clamorous cityscape by the Tokyo-based architectural firm Atelier Bow-Wow, KRAZY! includes the “Anime Garden” with simultaneous projections of six groundbreaking films, accompanied by a special soundtrack room; the “Manga Pod” with close to one thousand magazines, along with rare concept drawings and related action figures and other merchandise; and video excerpts and table console video games that can be played by visitors.
 
Altogether, 200 works of art, objects, and ephemera will be assembled to illustrate the interconnected roots and themes of the three genres and to situate them within the context of Japanese art and life.

Focusing exclusively on the work and influence of Japanese writers, illustrators, and designers, Joe Earle, Director, Japan Society Gallery, has adapted KRAZY! from an exhibition of the same name organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery in Canada, originating there in Spring 2008. Co-curators are the Vancouver Art Gallery's Senior Curator Bruce Grenville; the world's foremost authority on manga, Kiyoshi Kusumi, the editor of the Japanese magazine Comickers, as well as an established art critic and cultural theorist; the sociologist, media theorist, and critic Toshiya Ueno, who serves as Associate Professor in the Expressive Cultures Department at Wako University, Tokyo; and Will Wright, pioneering computer game designer and creator of The Sims, SimCity, and Spore.

“In the 19th century, the Japanese master Hokusai incorporated aspects of European art into the traditional Japanese visual style, creating a revolutionary new art—which was then avidly absorbed by European painters as a purely 'Japanese art.' Such a give-and-take describes in part the dynamic nature of this new wave of art and popular culture as well,” says Joe Earle, Director, Japan Society Gallery.

Seminal works by six influential anime artists, eight manga artists, one sound artist and two video game designers are featured in KRAZY!. Exhibition highlights include excerpts from the classic anime, Akira (1988) by Katsuhiro Otomo, which was set in the year 2019 in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo and introduced to Western audiences what would become the prototypical anime character—statuesque figure, heart-shaped face, and huge eyes—and a narrative that forecasts complexity and fantasy to come. “Girl power” surfaces in this section in the form of Paprika, a red-headed psychotherapist invented by the artist Satoshi Kon who has the ability to “jack in” to other people's dreams with nightmarish results that include a parade of Buddhist statues, Chinese fortune figures, Japanese dolls, the Statue of Liberty, and a myriad of hi-tech gadgets. Other anime artists whose works are highlighted are Mamoru Oshii, Ichiro Itano, Masaaki Yuasa, and Makoto Shinkai.

A sound room will allow visitors to savor anime soundtracks by Yoko Kanno that have achieved cult status around the world, with their fusion of jazz, hard rock, blues, hip hop, and ambient techno, devised for such anime films and television shows as Cowboy Bebop (1998) and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002).

The manga section of KRAZY! illustrates how Japanese artists have taken the art of silk paintings and woodblock prints and combined them with the genre story and American-style punch to create something totally new. Taiyo Matsumoto's unique style of remixing a narrative and breaking up the frame on a page with slices of close-up expressions is featured here in printed pages from and copies of Black & White (1993-1994), his story of two orphans who defend a city named Takara-machi (Treasure Town) from evil adults. Also on view are selections from Junko Mizuno's Pure Trance, an elaborate narrative about women living in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, and Mamoru Nagano's Five Star Stories, an incredibly complex saga that has run for over two decades (even though its plot was divulged in its very first publication). Other prominent manga artists represented are Takashi Okazaki, Yūichi Yokoyama, Hitoshi Odajima, and Hisashi Eguchi.

In KRAZY!'s middle section, the seminal role that Japanese designers have played in transforming the game genre into a veritable Esperanto of contemporary life is evident in excerpts from Toru Iwatani's Pac-Man (1980) and Shigeru Miyamoto's landmark Super Mario World (1990), and his more recent and evolved role-playing game, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2002).

Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima, the principals of Atelier Bow-Wow renowned for transforming small and difficult spaces into playful and innovative structures, have designed consoles to allow visitors to play through key sections of the computer games in an environment as cacophonous and excessive as the games themselves.

Exhibition Catalogue

KRAZY! The Delirious World of Anime + Manga + Video Games is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue titled KRAZY! The Delirious World of Anime + Comics + Video Games + Art, published by the Vancouver Art Gallery, Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver/Toronto, and University of California Press, Berkeley. The catalogue addresses an international spectrum of writers, illustrators, and programmers in the fields of comics, graphic novels, and art from around the world. With commentary devoted to such illustrators and designers as Art Spiegelman, the creator of Maus, and Will Wright, the creator of The Sims, the volume complements the Japan Society's focus on Japanese practitioners. ($34.95, soft-cover, retail)

Anime Film Screenings

Several anime films featured in KRAZY! will be shown full-length in the recently upgraded—with digital projectors and 5.1 surround sound—auditorium at Japan Society, including Katsuhiro Otomo's classic, Akira (1988); Masaaki Yuasa's Mind Game (2004); Satoshi Kon's, Paprika (2006); Patlabor 2: The Movie, by Mamoru Oshii (1993); The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004), by Makoto Shinkai; and Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Episode 9 and 27 (1982-83), designed by Ichiro Itano. Screenings begin Saturday, March 14 and continue until June 14, 2009. Viewing times are Friday: 3:00 to 9:00 pm; Saturday and Sunday: 11:00 to 5:00 pm. For a full schedule visit www.japansociety.org.

Selected Public Programs

Konnichiwa Friends Family Tours of KRAZY!
Saturday, March 14, April 11, May 9 and June 13, 2009 from 2-3 pm
Slated for the second Saturday of every month between March and June, this series of tours engages young children ages 2 to 4 and their families in fun, interactive learning experiences. Using games, puzzles, storytelling, and other techniques for discussing art and culture, tours explore exhibition themes and include Japanese vocabulary-building activities. FREE with adult admission to the exhibition. No reservation required. For more information, the public may call (212) 715-1224.
 
KRAZY! Cosplay Party
Saturday, March 28, 5:30-8:30 pm
In conjunction with the exhibition KRAZY! The Delirious World of Anime + Manga + Video, Japan Society holds its first-ever Cosplay Party, inviting local fans to create and showoff costumes of their favorite characters, and share their enthusiasm for anime, manga, and video games. The Cosplay Party includes classic anime film screenings, a costume competition with prizes from Kinokuniya Bookstore and Manga Entertainment, and Free! admission to the KRAZY! Only costumed individuals are eligible for the competition. Tickets are $10 advance www.japansociety.org/cosplay or $15 at the door.

Art Cart: KRAZY!
Sunday March 29, 2009 2-4 pm
Led by a Japan Society educator, children and their families receive an introduction to KRAZY! by exploring the galleries through sketching, movement, and discussion. Working with an artist and educator, children learn about a range of media in the exhibition, including manga (graphic novels), anime (Japanese animation), and video games in a fine art context and make their own manga pages. Recommended for ages 7-12 years old. $15 per family (up to 5 people)/$10 per family, including at least one Japan Society member. The public may purchase tickets online or call the Box Office at (212) 715-1258, Mon. - Fri. 11 am - 6 pm, Weekends 11 am - 5 pm.

Organizers & Sponsors

KRAZY!  The Delirious World of Anime + Manga + Video Games is organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery. Transportation assistance is provided by Japan Airlines. Media sponsorship is provided by WNYC and Louise Blouin Media. English-language manga for the Manga Pod supplied by Viz Media. Exhibitions at Japan Society are also made possible in part by the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Endowment Fund and the Friends of the Gallery. Installations at Japan Society Gallery are supported by a generous gift from Henry Cornell. Japan Society also wishes to thank The W.L.S. Spencer Foundation for its catalogue support. 

 About Japan Society Gallery

Japan Society Gallery is among the premier institutions in the U.S. for the exhibition of Japanese art. Extending in scope from prehistory to the present, the Gallery's exhibitions since 1971 have covered topics as diverse as classical Buddhist sculpture and calligraphy, contemporary photography and ceramics, samurai swords, export porcelain, and masterpieces of painting from the thirteenth to the twentieth century. Each exhibition, with its related catalogue and public programs, is a unique cultural event that illuminates familiar and unfamiliar fields of art. From 2008 the Gallery has expanded its annual schedule, adding a shorter, small-scale exhibition each summer to the existing program of major three-month exhibitions each spring and fall.

About Japan Society

Established in 1907, Japan Society has evolved into North America's single major producer of high-quality content on Japan for an English-speaking audience. Presenting over 100 events annually through well established Corporate, Education, Film, Gallery, Language, Lectures, Performing Arts and Innovators Network programs, the Society is an internationally recognized nonprofit, nonpolitical organization that provides access to information on Japan, offers opportunities to experience Japanese culture, and fosters sustained and open dialogue on issues important to the U.S., Japan, and East Asia.

Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street between First and Second Avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 and 7 subway at Grand Central or the E and V subway at Lexington Avenue). The public may call 212-832-1155 or visit www.japansociety.org for more information.

Japan Society Gallery hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 11:00 am–6:00 pm; Friday, 11:00 am–9:00 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 11:00 am–5:00 pm; the Gallery is closed on Mondays and major holidays. Admission: $10/$8 students and seniors/Free! Japan Society members and children under 16. Admission is Free! to all on Friday nights, 6:00–9:00 pm.

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