- Born in 1932 in Aichi, Japan; lived and worked in New York, USA; died in 2014 in New York, USA.
On Kawara is one of the most internationally known conceptual artists. His telegram series I Am Still Alive, which began in 1970 and is being exhibited here, involved sending approximately 900 telegrams to acquaintances, curators, and others around the world up until the year 2000. While telegrams are an urgent means of communication, “ I Am Still Alive” is a message that could also be taken to mean that Kawara is facing death. What did the recipients of this telegram think? In a post-pandemic world, this notion comes across as particularly poignant.
In December 1969, Kawara sent three telegrams that alluded to suicide to an exhibition in Paris, and one month later, the first I Am Still Alive was sent to the collectors Dorothy and Herbert Vogel. While it was the telegrams and postal systems in each region that made this work possible, the act itself of sending these telegrams for 30 years became a testament to his survival. This series, which was the inspiration for the “Still Alive” theme of the Aichi Triennale 2022, is perhaps the simplest and most profound gesture of all, transcending time and space in order to ponder the fundamental meaning of our existence and survival.
Kawara was born in the city of Kariya, Aichi Prefecture, and moved to Tokyo in 1951. After traveling through Latin America, North America, and Europe from 1959 for some years, he based his practice in New York for the rest of his life. Kawara, who is also known for his almost complete absence from the public eye, has made us ponder the meaning of existence and time through his Today series (1966–2013) of approximately 3,000 works made since 1966, in which for 48 years he depicted the day’s date using only minimal lettering, and the I Got Up series (1968–79), in which he sent postcards with a short message indicating the time he arose from bed that day. In his One Million Years series, based on this elusive concept of “time,” Kawara used a typewriter to write out all the years from 998031 BC to 1969 AD as the “past,” and from 1981 to 1001999 AD as the “future.” Visitors to this exhibition can also listen to a recording of a performance in which a portion of these years are read out.
- Selected Works & Awards
- On Kawara: Continuity/Discontinuity 1963–1979 (solo), The National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan
- On Kawara: Again and Against (solo), ICA, Nagoya, Japan
- On Kawara – Silence (solo), Guggenheim, New York, USA
- 10:00－18:00 (20:00 on Fridays)
*Last admission 30 min before closing time
- Mondays (except for public holidays)
- Venue / Access
- Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art (10F)
- 3 minutes on foot from Sakae Station on the Higashiyama Subway Line or Meijo Subway Line.
- 3 minutes on foot from Sakae-Machi Station on the Meitetsu Seto Line.