The Setouchi Triennale attempts to revitalize twelve remote islands with depopulating and aging communities by hosting an international art festival to promote tourism. However, simply defining "revitalization" is a challenge.
The physical or material manifestation of islands is simultaneously the most obvious and least justifiable way of describing an island. It's an interesting place to start a discussion of island borders.
As Covid-19 spreads in Japan, the normally bustling Naoshima is more like it was twenty years ago, before the island had become a tourist destination. What felt normal a year ago has become strange, as locals do their best to wait out the pandemic amid this unnaturally quiet spring.
Once home to as many as 4,000 people, Inujima is down to only a few dozen elderly inhabitants. It’s also a major art tourism destination. This second life has complicated the story of Inujima’s decline, though whether this is for the better is a matter of debate.
For generations the residents of Naoshima drew their water out of wells. There was a problem, however: the water smelled terrible. So Chikatsugu Miyake, mayor of Naoshima, invited the mayor of the nearby city of Tamano to the island, and served him tea.
What is an art island? Can such a thing really exist? And what is it like to live on one? Naoshima’s interwoven identities defy easy classification—as with anything worth looking at, the closer you get, the more complex the island becomes.