Art feast

By on November 4, 2008

Japan’s contemporary art world is coming of age. The nation’s youth are updating the scene, injecting the culture with their own 21st century visions and styles. Consider it the latest renaissance. From the distinctive art of anime and manga that kids everywhere obsess over to the avant-garde Harajuku get-ups that piqued the interest of such fashionistas as popstress-turned-designer Gwen Stefani, Japan’s very own pop culture is coming to be quite a big deal. As such, Tokyo rightfully celebrates it twice a year at the Design Festa, Asia’s biggest art event, with 7,000 artists representing over 60 countries.

Design Festa is more than a simple exhibition. Since its inception in 1994, it has served as a means for passionate artists to display their work. Booths fill the Tokyo Big Sight halls with art in all manner of form; painting, sculpture, light design, fashion, jewelry, even dolls. You can learn about the story behind the pieces by meeting the people that created them, or take part in workshops to learn how some of them are made. There are those that even create their work right there at the Festa, from quick caricatures to larger-than-life murals that are made over the course of two days. For those who’d like to take home some of the magic, there’s always something unique to buy. It’s a win-win situation, too; you support an artist, and get a one-of-a-kind addition to your bedroom or wardrobe that may also prove to be a wise investment if the artist goes on to become a star of the art world.

Meanwhile, indoor and outdoor stages, as well as theatre spaces, are set up for performances of every sort: theatre, dance, magic, fashion shows and spiritual activities. Also enjoy music of every genre and style, played by bands, singers, and musicians from all over the world, breaking down cultural barriers one note at a time. The sky – outer space even – is the limit here. Topping it all off with media exposure from networks such as the BBC, CBS, and Canal+, the event does its part to support the talent and creativity of the international artistic types gathered in the house of the rising sun. It’s an aesthetic feast for the art lover. With every conceivable space taken up with some form of creative endeavor, visitors can spend the whole day (or two) basking in different stories, perspectives, and expressions that are poured into them.

The fun doesn’t stop there, either. Your taste buds can get in on the action, too. It is impossible to stay hungry at the Design Festa with all the food stalls and restaurants around, serving up dishes and delicacies from other nations; near, far, familiar, or exotic. Keeping in with the theme of uniqueness, special menus are created especially for the Festa for your enjoyment. All in all, it’s pretty safe to say the whole experience cannot be had elsewhere, including future volumes of the Design Festa itself! It’s no wonder visitors keep coming back for more.

To all the budding artists out there, if you’re looking for a way to display your work for the world to see, consider the Festa. Age, gender, and nationality are not an issue here; the Art is! While applications are over for the upcoming November event, keep your eyes open for its May ’09 edition. Visit their website for information on joining. Show the world what you, and you alone, can and have to express. In the meantime, come on down to the Tokyo Big Sight for some inspiration, support for fellow artists, and just plain fun!

Design Festa  Nov 8 & 9, 11:00 – 19:00 at TOKYO BIG SIGHT

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About Martin Leroux