KANTEN 観展: The Limits of History
KANTEN 観展 is a play on the Japanese kanji for 観点 kanten, perspective, and 展覧会 tenrankai, art exhibition—coming together to indicate an exhibition of perspectives. KANTEN examines Japan’s expansionism during the Asia Pacific war from an array of viewpoints, exposing the considerable ways in which the past can be visualized and remembered.
The seven artists featured in this multimedia exhibition navigate, reevaluate, and process generational memory—creating artworks that delve into complex issues that have long been established as “history.” Together, these artists demonstrate very distinctive approaches to both the material and immaterial traces of wartime displacement and imperial subjectivization, the blurring of national boundaries, as well as the role of the US in the aftermath of the Asia Pacific War. By juxtaposing their work with a collection of original Japanese wartime postcards, KANTEN aims to reveal the limits of memory, narrative, and testimony.
With nationalism and neoliberal patriotism on the rise around the globe, it is becoming more urgent to explore art’s power to both construct and dismantle national histories. As one of the first US exhibitions on this subject, KANTEN broadens the resistance against an enduring reluctance to confront the underside of history—especially when it paints a disturbing picture.