The City in Crisis: Images of Urban Decay in Contemporary Japanese Art

Events during the 150 years since the publication of Hiroshige’s One Hundred Famous Views of Edo have led many contemporary Japanese artists to consider the city of Tokyo through a much more critical lens. Two such artists are Motoda Hisaharu (b. 1973) and Yoshimura Ayako. In his large-scale lithographs, Motoda imagines what "famous views" throughout the city will look like in the foreseeable future, after an unspecified catastrophe has wiped out the entire population. In her video Places - a city , Yoshimura digitally weaves together panoramic views of several cities throughout the world. However, she carefully deletes from the resulting montage any and all "famous views," leaving us with a haunting metropolis that lacks any sense of identity.

What will the actual fate of Tokyo be? As our own cities experience similar urban development, what will ultimately happen to them, and what are our responsibilities as witnesses to that development?


Left: Motoda Hisaharu (b. 1973)
Revelation – Kabukicho II, detail
Japan, 2004
Lithograph; ink on paper
Copyright: Motoda Hisaharu
Collection of the artist