On the 1st of May 2019, Emporer Naruhito ascended the throne as the 126th Emperor, bringing Japan into the infancy of the Reiwa era and out of the Heisei era.
The Heisie era (1989 - 2019) started with ‘the lost decade’, a period of economic stagnation that followed the collapse of the Showa era’s economic bubble. The nation begun the slow process of rebuilding it’s economy, setting a nihilistic tone to the era.
During this time, developments in communication technology resulted in a complicated intercultural dialogue between Japan and the outside world. Subsequently, the dynamics of Japan’s international cultural exchange soon became a common theme in the literature, games, music and art of the Heisei era.
In 2011 the largest earthquake in Japan’s history caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster, rekindling the era’s nihilistic mood and contributing an already strong undercurrent of mistrust towards the government, who many see as having mishandled and downplayed impact of the incident.
Like elsewhere in the world, smart phone and social media addiction gripped Japan. As people started to stare compulsively at their phones, Japanese YouTube personalities and “key opinion leaders” grew in cultural relevance.
These elements; the nihilism of economic uncertainty, government mistrust, the rise of technological addiction, social media narcissism and the swirl of pop and underground scenes responding to the fun house mirror of foreign interpretations. These are their elements that make up the cultural setting of the Heisei era. This is the focus of Shohei Otomo’s latest exhibition.
Reiwa is a collection of illustrations, installations and sculptures by Shohei Otomo which critique Japanese culture and society during the Heisei era.
Hong Kong from the 26th Oct - 10 Nov.
Melb from the 22 Nov - 8th Dec.
more news soon.