We Can Make Another Future review – nostalgic art, contemporary style

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GOMA, Brisbane
Thirty years ago Japanese pop culture came to Australia only in tantalisingly strange glimpses. A new show paints a more complete picture of the country.

There is something intensely nostalgic about the exhibition We Can Make Another Future: Japanese Art After 1989 at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Brisbane.

It’s a very specific kind of nostalgia for Australians of a certain age, for people like me who first became aware of the depth of Japanese art and popular culture during the 1980s. In that age before the internet, when information about non-English-speaking cultures arrived here via a drip feed of magazine articles, occasional TV shows, or that even rarer event of bands touring, those glimpses of Japanese culture looked a lot like the future: a place that was irrevocably exotic and strange.

Certainly, bits of Japanese pop culture had been seen in Australia after the second world war – the samurai and animated TV shows that inexplicably screened here in the 60s and 70s formed a major part of our understanding of Japan – but a wider engagement with the culture was a sporadic affair. The work of contemporary Japanese artists made appearances in Australian biennales and touring exhibitions but the specificity of Japanese art, its contexts, intentions and meanings, always seemed a little distant.

GOMA’s We Can Make Another Future, curated by Reuben Keehan, is a show that puts Japanese art into context as it draws on the gallery’s extensive permanent collection for its examples. The first third of the show, The National Body, is on now, while the final two thirds, Empire of Signs and Shadows on the Sun, will open mid-December.

Source: The Guardian

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