Meditating Wind no. 66: Forbidden Mandala

Meditating Wind no. 66

The ring of jagged rocks is an art installation at the Setagaya Art Museum. As I was setting up this photo, a man came out of the museum and scolded me for doing this.

“Even though this is outside, this is still art. You can’t just walk in there.” Well, of course I knew this was art. That’s why I was interacting with it in this creative way. But my Japanese was too limited, so I just did what everyone in Japan does, bowed and apologized.

In my defense, there was no sign or tag describing the title and artist.  And no “Do Not Enter” sign.  For all I knew, it was interactive art.  The man also warned me that people have gotten hurt on the jagged edges. If that was the case, I wonder why the piece was displayed in such an open accessible place, where just meters away were many kids running around.

But he was absolutely polite about it. And it was part of the art experience, the symbolism of being told not to enter a circle. A circle that is at once forbidding, because of its sharp edges, and invitingly accessible, because I just had to step over the barrier.

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5 thoughts on “Meditating Wind no. 66: Forbidden Mandala”

  1. I think that is an amazing picture. I think Japanese just have a different sense about things like this. If this was displayed in America in this exact fashion, it probably would be encouraged to interact with it the way you did.

  2. Decades ago when I was a fine art student, I took a friend to an art gallery in Boston in the United States where he was scolded by a guard for trying to sit on one of the exhibits. I was so deeply immersed in the world of art at the time, that I too was shocked that my friend would do such a thing. I think I may have scolded more than the guard! After much discussion, my friend still couldn’t understand why he wasn’t allowed to sit on the chair made of mirrors.

    He’s now my husband and he still doesn’t understand. But that’s ok. The incident made me question a lot of the beliefs I had about art at the time. I came to the conclusion that any piece of art that requires such a high level of ‘sophistication’ in observers should not be installed in a public place or museum. The best art builds a bridge between people and reaches out with a message that touches that which is common to all human beings, regardless of education, sex, race, culture or timeline.

  3. thanks all.

    flandrumhill, what an interesting story. i’m actually okay about not touching art. but usually outdoor sculptures are hearty enough and even meant to be touched. but i think the best art should be interactive. i agree that it should be a bridge builder, breaking boundaries.

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