This project was born in response to the absolute lack of contemporary art museums in the entire Nigata region.
The absence of a single museum was, in my view, in shocking contrast with the extraordinary potential of the region: natural potential, cultural potential, and economic potential. I believe in the capacity of cultural institutions to reflect the beauty and culture of a specific society and project it towards the future.
I propose a series of permanent Culture Boxes all around the region, in all six municipalities, for the visitor and inhabitant to discover and to enjoy, in the middle of urban developments as well as in the middle of nature.
I propose a total of 12 Culture Boxes: one inside each city, town or village, and one in the natural landscape of each city, town or village.
Inspired by “police boxes”, these Culture Boxes aim to upset the lack of major contemporary art institutions in the region, and to signal the will of the community to give a space to cultural manifestations. They will be created and designed in close collaboration with local authorities (for assistance in securing spaces) and architects (for elaboration of specific local design concepts).
These Culture Boxes will be unique, distinctive, clearly identifiable small architectural constructions dispersed in the entire Echigo-Tsumari region. They will become signs of culture, signs of an active culture because an active culture is one that creates.
These Culture Boxes will be museums, very small museums, the smallest museums in the world. Each one will contain two exhibition spaces: one for a permanent installation of an historic local artwork or artifact, and one for temporary exhibitions by local artists. Each Culture Box will be curated by a local curator, and exhibitions will change every season.
These Culture Boxes will be poetry houses as well and each one will house a poem by a Japanese poet. This poem will be permanently inscribed in the architecture of the building.
These Culture Boxes will be shields where one will find protection from the sun or snow and meditate on the power of nature and art.
These Culture Boxes will become frames of reference, as they will reflect and comment on their environment and mission. From their particular location the visitor will be able to enjoy a very specific view of the area, a particularly significant scenery, urban or natural.
A small guide map will be created to guide visitors around the region in search of the Culture Boxes, and a Culture Box Path will be created. This path will be at the core of a discovery route of the entire Echigo Tsumari region.
Welcome to Echigo Tsumari.
Bunka no Hako (Culture Box). Niigata, Japan. 2000.
Postscript: For the opening exhibition, we selected an historic image of a performance by GUN, a group from the 70's who did a performance in the river in front of where the Culture Box is located. To fight against the local depression due to the harsh winter, they poured color pigments in the river and transformed it into a live painting.
For the "historic section" we selected a few "kosukis" (snow shovels) that belong to people living in Matsudai. They are historic artifacts not in use anymore.
The five haikus on the walls are by Chiyo-Ni, one of the most important female Japanese poets.
[texto. Alfredo Jaar] [sitio. alfredo jaar]