Recently I visited the Setouchi Art Triennale, thanks to a lucky draw. As the name suggests, this contemporary art exhibition takes place every three years on the islands of the Setouchi region.

After a relaxed day in Inujima (see part 1), the second day was packed with program because I visited both Teshima and Naoshima. The two islands are at the center of the Triennale with notable museums and a set of temporary exhibitions.

At 7 am I took the Uno line down from Okayama to Uno station, from where I continued by ferry to Teshima’s Ieura port. The weather looked fine, but strong winds were forecasted and the ferry to Inujima was canceled. Lucky me I did it in this order.

Teshima is the second largest island in the region after Shodoshima. I rented an e-bike to put myself into a position where I could see as much as possible in half a day without relying on the infrequent bus. Unintendedly, I did not make use of the motor until I climbed two-thirds of the hill, which made the ride very exhausting.

First, I stopped at a small photo exhibition of Kimiko Nishimoto which was held in a regular village house.

After reaching the top of the hill, I could enjoy a wonderful view over terraced rice fields, the island and the Seto inland sea.

The concrete dome in the background was the next destination, belonging to the Teshima Art Museum. This unconventional museum was designed by Ryue Nishizawa and Rei Naito with the intention to blend in to the surrounding nature. The dome is relatively flat and is open to the seasons.

I enjoyed the experience there a lot, but it is hard to explain without being there or showing photos (photography was not permitted in most museums). In simple terms, one entered the open dome that was illuminated by natural light and did not feature any interior. However, at many places small amounts of water arose from tiny holes which then flew across the floor, forming and shaping paddles. Watching it was meditational.

Credit: Teshima Art Museum

Afterwards I rode down the hill to the second harbor and passed by an immersive basketball artwork.

Soon after I arrived at the Achieve of Hearts (Les Archives du Cœur), an interactive gallery of heartbeats by French artist Christian Boltanski. Here, one could listen to recordings of heartbeats of previous visitors and also record their own for the afterworld.

One room was a corridor in the dark, illuminated by a single light bulb which flickered in the rhythm of a specific heartbeat.

Credit: Les Archives du Cœur

On the mountain in center of the island, there was a second installation by Christian Boltanski, called La forêt des murmures. Here, windchimes with names of loved ones gave a peaceful sound together with the sounds of nature.

After seeing this much and moving around a lot as well, I was ready to eat. For lunch, I visited a restaurant that served seafood. The clam and octopus teishoku was delicious and gave me new energy.

I just made it back in time to catch the ferry for Naoshima…

Stay tuned for part 3.

Setouchi Triennale (2/3) – Teshima

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