“GRAND PROJECTS: HOW FAR WILL YOU GO?” is the exhibition showing now until October 2017 at 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT, THE ISSEY MIYAKE FOUNDATION, a space in Tokyo dedicated to design by the famous creator.

The exhibition Director is Naoko Aono, a writer and editor well versed in architecture, design, art, and a broad range of other interests.
Filled with the joy of making things, creators proceed on a journey toward a Grand Project.
 The exhibition showcases Grand Projects by creators who give shape to their bold and innovative ideas that transcend existing modes of expressions. In June 2016, Christo and Jeanne-Claude built “The Floating Piers” on Lake Iseo in Italy. The piers covered with a 3 kilometers-long fabric appeared on the lake. Along with sidewalks covered with the same fabric, the floating piers dramatically changed the landscape, and uplifted the spirit of people. Starting point for this exhibition will be this couple of artists who conceived projects of incredible scale that transformed bridges, buidings, landscapes, and even the House of Parliament into artworks, realizing what was initially thought to be impossible.

Issey Miyake Ginza Tokyo

Other creators from diverse fields, who carry out unique activities using dynamic techniques and methods, will gather and display their works.
The process of meticulous planning and giving shape to a project with the cooperation and support of many people, together with the finished works displayed on a huge scale, evoke a feeling of awe among the visitors who are likely to wonder “How far will you go?” The creators’ attitudes prove their strong will, passion, endless series of trial-and-error, and determination to take action with conviction, to confront all sorts of hardships, such as technical challenges in natural environments, as well as financial challenges and changes in times and social circumstances. Their grand projects may also be said to be grand urban projects proposed by artistic creators. By temporarily or permanently changing the city and natural landscapes, their works permeate through our daily lives. By taking part in the project and being involved from the production process, cooperators, too, experience the fun of working together and the joys of creating things. This is another major characteristic of this exhibition. Their works encourage visitors to experience new things, and manifest enjoyment and unthought sets of values.
The exhibition will convey the extraordinary power that such creations have, and the joy that spread from there.

NAOKO AONO, Director of the exhibition, gives an insight of GRAND PROJECTS

How Far Will You Go? is an unusual title for an exhibition. In choosing this phrase, we thought about the people who end up doing things that we can never, ever dream of doing, and instilled, into the title, our honest awe and respect for them. Yes, they are the ones who defy all odds and make the impossible possible, undeterred by people with “common sense” who would absolutely say, “Oh, stop talking nonsense; that’s a dream that can never come true.”

Even things that others may feel outlandish or things that they themselves don’t even know when they can accomplish—once they decide to make things happen, they never give up. They persuade people with sheer tenacity, and proceed to solve financial problems. Since large pieces of work sometimes become projects of an architectural and civil engineering scale, rather than art or design, meticulous planning and blueprints become necessary. The creators draw up a thoroughly fail-proof plan, and exhaustively tackle technical challenges to ensure the utmost safety.

Issey Miyake Ginza Tokyo

As a result, it may take a long period of time—sometimes twenty or thirty years, even, from conception to completion. It is not unusual to see completely different problems arising during that time. Still, they continue to confront all sorts of difficulties with a positive mindset, believing that there should be a way to somehow solve such challenges.

Why do they “go that far”? Christo and the late Jeanne-Claude, the exhibition’s participating creators, answers that his motivation is very simple: “Because we want to see it ourselves.” By pursuing genuine beauty, the creators themselves feel the joy. This is transmitted to people who see their works, and puts smiles on their faces.
Rather than looking serious, perhaps with a frown, and researching the theme like, “what art is all about” and “what role design should play”, everyone can enjoy these pieces more intuitively and feel them in a physical sense.

In their production process, large-scale works sometimes involve people who usually have nothing to do with art or design. To complete the project, people other than artists or designers cooperate by moving their hands or manipulating a machine. By getting involved in the process of creating things, they may end up using thoughts and muscles that are different from usual. There also are works which, regardless of their scale, accumulate huge amounts of work that involve human hands-on labor to be completed. Here, we find traces of the hands of the creator and of the people who had taken part in the operations, and accumulation of rich and dense time spent together. The unconventional projects that have been completed in an equally unconventional manner move people who see them, and stir their hearts. Seeing, with their own eyes, things that they had never imagined before, changes “something” inside them. It is magnificent and incredible, and may sometimes feel unusual. Their ideas and projects largely deviate from conventional notions, which is the very reason they inspire courage and hope in us. They make us aware that there may be some different ways of thinking for everything, or that we may discover some new methodologies. Having experienced these things, you may begin to perceive changes in your sets of values and common sense, which you had taken for granted up until then.

In some cases, the effects of such an experience may be seen right away. In other cases, it may remain in your memory, settle slowly inside you without you noticing it, and continue for many years thereafter. The passion of strong-willed creators produces discoveries and joys in all of us. They bring happiness to people, and help create new relationships between things and people, and between individuals.

numen/for use ‘tape tokyo 02’ | photo by keizo kioku