Special Exhibition Main Visual

The Ecosystem of House, Family, and Hometown, and the Portal of Souvenirs and Gifts

There are various theories about the origin of souvenirs and gifts in Japan, but it is widely believed that they originated from the "Shinjinkyoshoku," a ritual in which people share sake with the gods to bring them closer together and then take the sake cup back to their family or community as a gift. The practice of giving souvenirs is universal and transcends ethnic boundaries, but it has also developed into a unique custom and cultural element in Japan. For instance, the word "souvenir" has dual meanings: one as a "souvenir" for oneself and the other as a "gift" for the recipient. It is a characteristic exclusive to Japanese culture that souvenirs, in the latter sense, are highly valued. Souvenirs in Japan have evolved from hand-me-downs to travel souvenirs through popularization. The key distinction is that the former is given when visiting home, while the latter is brought back during temporary transitions from "hare" (daily life space) to "ke" (non-daily life space). Both types of souvenirs likely still play a crucial role as rituals to maintain intimacy between members of a community.

House, family, and hometown: an ecosystem and cyclical structure encompassing place, people, and memory. One phrase that best symbolizes this closed circle and inescapability is Paul Gauguin's "Where do we come from, who are we, and where are we going?" There is no shortage of similar inquiries worldwide, such as Blaise Pascal's "Pensées," Charles Baudelaire's "The Naked Mind," and Kamo Chōmei's "Hojoki." However, if Gauguin was mistaken about one thing, it is his belief in an external paradise beyond home, family, and homeland. Why not shift our perspective and attempt to reconceive the exterior as the interior of the interior, rather than the interior being the exterior of the exterior? This endeavor entails discovering the public within the home, finding otherness in the family, and uncovering the external world within the hometown.

In an era of contact phobia, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, homes became closed off to the outside world, families were internally divided, and returning to one's hometown was prohibited. From intimate spaces to public spheres, the world was filled with perpetrator-victim relationships, and our imagination became confined to social networking. Amid these circumstances, we organized hometown tours called the Shonan Exploration Tour, Hometown Exploration Tour, and Metaverse Exploration Tour. Each tour's nature varies, but if summarized, they can be described as attempts to connect, disconnect, and recombine the intimate and public spheres' territories by exploring the original landscapes of hometown participants' egos and memories exposed during each tour. Notably, the idea of souvenirs in this exhibition originated from the process of scanning fragmented hometown scenes in 3D and bringing back the data as souvenirs.

By the way, VRChat, one of the metaverse platforms, features a warp device called a portal that enables travel between worlds. Let's consider souvenirs as portals, meaning they possess the ability to encourage immersion and disappearance within a specific world. More specifically, souvenirs are the traces or symbols brought back by those who disappeared into a certain intimate sphere or community, allowing the immersed individual to warp through the portal to the destination's other-dimensional space. The exhibition venue, which represents the home and the private sphere, has the characteristic of accumulating and passing on items left behind by previous users. In such a space where immersion and disappearance constantly intersect, the aim of this exhibition is to create a warp circuit within each structure that connects it to the outside world. This is achieved by installing multiple portals (including both artworks and non-artworks), which are souvenirs based on the three key concepts: house, family, and hometown.

Of course, I have no intention of asserting that souvenirs are equivalent to works of art, or that displaying them constitutes an exhibition. In his "Anthropology of Images," Hans Belting advocated an approach to images that is not confined to the framework of art history. By introducing the concept of "souvenirs," he attempted to extract images of original memory landscapes that transcend the boundaries of artwork and non-artwork. On the other hand, Noi Sawaragi's notion of repetition and forgetting history in a "bad place" was extended to the geological conditions of destruction and reconstruction in the Japanese archipelago following the earthquake. Rather than seeking the cause of such a closed circle externally, we must retrace our origins in home, family, and hometown, critically inherit and attempt to escape by overlaying the questions of "where did we come from, who are we, and where are we going?" Through the souvenirs, images of the original memory landscapes are displayed, and the basso continuo echoes within the closed circle, revealing the vision of a new community that we have not yet seen.


The Ecosystem of House, Family, and Hometown, and the Portal of Souvenirs and Gifts

Dates: May 5–December 17, 2023
*Open bi-weekly Fri & every weekend, with exceptions.
*Closed from July 1–August 31.
*The venue may be temporarily open or closed on dates other than those listed above, so please refer to the reservation page for details.
Opening Hours: 1:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m.
Reservation: https://postpassionfruits.com/en/exhibitions/special-exhibitions/the-ecosystem-of-house-family-and-hometown-and-the-portal-of-souvenirs-and-gifts/reservation/
*Reservation only.
Venue: Private: The House for Rent 1st Floor
Access: https://tokyoprivate.theblog.me/pages/3489813/static/
Admission Fee: ¥500
Curator/Designer: NIL
Artists: Itsuki, Takehiro Kobayashi, Haruhiko Sudo, Maricom, NIL, Trademark
Organizer: Post Passion Fruits
Supported by: Arts Council Tokyo (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture)
*This exhibition forms a part of the Shonan Hometown Metaverse Exploration Tour Archive Project.
Exhibition Special Page: https://postpassionfruits.com/en/exhibitions/special-exhibitions/the-ecosystem-of-house-family-and-hometown-and-the-portal-of-souvenirs-and-gifts/