What We See

January 19 (Sat.)– March 24(Sun), 2013

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The National Museum of Art, Osaka presents a special exhibition entitled What We See, which will focus primarily on works that make use of the moving image.

In face of ongoing and unparalleled technological revolution that has occurred over the last century, the advent of globalization, and daily life in contemporary society, which is continually inundated with a huge quantity of information, we are exposed to a bewildering amount of change on a daily basis. In the course of ordinary life, the things that are presented as a "reality" sometimes seem to be occurring in a dream, making it seem as if we are experiencing a complete fabrication. At the same time, the realities that are presented as fiction are imbued with a greater intensity, and function no differently from reality, giving us the sense that the line between artifice and actuality is growing increasingly vague.

In the field of art, the concept of reality was nearly always linked to Realism. And by the time photography emerged, unlike painting, it was thought to have the ability to capture a genuine state of reality. It has since become clear, however, that photography does not always embody this function and that the reality it does embody is not necessarily factual. With the rise of the moving image, and the subsequent use of computer graphics and digital technology, scenes that do not actually exist came to be presented with a heightened sense of reality. For example, a film with the characteristics of a documentary that has been edited and molded according to a certain perspective produces a fiction that is detached from reality.

Today, there are many video works that reflect the state of contemporary society in which the distinction between fact and fiction has been lost. In these works, which blend fact and fiction, the artists are asking us to consider the current whereabouts of truth. Does truth exist in something that was created as a fiction? Is reality truth? When reality becomes a fiction, does truth begin to fluctuate? Or on the other hand, when fiction is formulated as reality, does it lead to the emergence of truth?

This exhibition will present a collection of video works by ten artists from around the world including two from Japan: Hiraki Sawa and Shino Yanai. In contemporary society, with its flood of information and images, we must search for the whereabouts of the essential truth contained in the realities and fictions that are presented in these expressions of the moving image.

Artists:Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Cyprien Gaillard, Johan Grimonprez, Chia-En Jao, Sojung Jun, Steve McQueen, Hiraki Sawa, Pei-Shih Tu, Clemens von Wedemeyer, Shino Yanai

  • Organizers: The National Museum of Art, Osaka
  • Sponsored by: Daikin Foundation for Contemporary Arts


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©Crystal Eye Ltd, Helsinki
Courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris
Photo©Antti Ruusuvuori

Cyprien Gaillard ≪Artefacts≫ 2011
©Cyprien Gaillard
Courtesy Sprueth Magers Berlin London
Collection of The National Museum of Art, Osaka

Hiraki Sawa ≪Lineament≫ 2012
©Hiraki Sawa courtesy of Ota Fine Arts and James Cohan Gallery

Chia-En Jao ≪REM Sleep≫ 2011
©Chia-En Jao

Sojung Jun ≪Last Pleasure≫ 2012
©Sojung Jun

Pei-Shih Tu ≪The Visible Story≫ 2012
©Pei-Shih Tu Courtesy of Project Fulfill Art Space, Taipei

Clemens von Wedemeyer
≪Against Death (from The Fourth Wall)≫ 2009
©Clemens von Wedemeyer, VG Bild-Kunst
Courtesy KOW, Berlin & Galerie
Jocelyn Wolff, Paris

Shino Yanai ≪UTSUTSU NATION≫ 2012
©Shino Yanai

Johan Giemonprez ≪dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y≫ 1997
Leila Khaled, Palestinian Hijacker, Amman, August 1970 (color image)
Still from dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y, Johan Grimonprez, 1997
Photography: Johan Grimonprez & Rony Vissers
Courtesy of Zapomatik

Steve McQueen
≪Once upon a Time≫ 2002
Courtesy of the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery, London


Opening Hours

10:00–17:00, Fridays until 19:00
Admission until 30 minutes before closing


Mondays (Except February 11, a national holiday) and Tue., February 12

Admission Fee

Adults: ¥850 (¥600)
University students: ¥450 (¥250)

  • * Including "Collection: Contemporary Art and Themes"
  • * Prices in parentheses indicate discount offered to groups of 20 or more
  • * Visitors under 18, over 65, and disabled people with one attendant will be admitted free (please present some form of identification at the door)
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