Blue Sky Aquarium by Seizo Tashima is a very fascinating artwork. I really fell in love with the work due to the vibrant colours and interesting storyline. It takes place in the first dormitory building you see for the festival and it is a maze to walk through it.
When you see the building you will see a pirate along with a bunch of tubes. It was a really strange looking piece but it made me want to enter the building. The other dormitories were good but they didn’t draw me in as much as Blue Sky Aquarium. There is also a sign welcoming you to the aquarium. The sign itself is a picture of an octopus hugging what looks to be a whale, or possibly a shark. Be sure to look at the back as the back has an image of a pirate, but I’m not sure how many people saw it.
From my memory, when you walk in, you have to walk down a bit of a corridor that is in the same bright blue as the tubes that are outside. There are a few pieces of artwork but the entire artwork is supposed to be a “spatial poem” which basically means it is telling a story. The first room you come to is actually a sad scene. It is a room with a mermaid but she is trapped behind blue beams. The significance, at least to me, is that she is trapped behind garbage that the world is throwing into the sea. There is a speaker and she does talk and from my memory she asks you to help her clean the sea.
The next room that I remember seeing was the room with lamps. It was actually a boarded up room that was all black and a few viewing holes cut out. Seizo Tashima hung beautiful lamps that were made of different coloured glass. You can get a decent idea of what it looked like with photos but being there in person was much better.
The third room of importance was the garbage room. A pink room full of plastic garbage. There was a rope that you could pull and once you pulled it, a speaker would speak in various languages telling you to not throw your garbage into the sea. I would image Seizo Tashima collected the plastic from around the area and it was saddening to see.
The last room of the exhibit was the pirate’s room. I took a few photos of the pirate made of felt and was about to leave when another art goer showed me that the pirate was interactive. The pirate was sitting on a log with a plank in front of him. You are supposed to walk up the plank and when you reach the area near the pirate, the plank shifts pushing the pirate up and he attacks you! It was fun to play with and solidified the artwork as my favourite of the island.
Blue Sky Aquarium doesn’t end with the exhibit inside the dormitory. You actually have more artwork outside. If you look into the side of the building from the road you will actually see illustrations by Seizo Tashima which showed the full story of the pirate and mermaid falling in love, all the garbage and waste being put into the seas, and the mermaid crying by the destructing of her home. It was an environmental piece that was really true of the realities of how we look at the sea.
I really enjoyed this exhibit/artwork/poem and hope it remains on the island. I would really like to see it again and truly appreciate it. I didn’t completely understand it until later, and the short time I had on the island didn’t help either. I hope to go back again in the future if this artwork is still around.
- Blue Sky Aquarium (Official Setouchi Triennale Site)
- Seizo Tashima (Official Site – Mostly Japanese)
I only saw it in 2013 (for some reason I didn’t make it to Oshima in 2016, and not since either). I really liked, but it wasn’t finished yet.
I must return next year.