Leisure Landscapes
Katharina Gruzei
Artist Statement
Leisure Landscapes is an analog photo project realised in Kasai Rinkai Park and Odaiba Island, Tokyo. It takes a closer look at places of recreation within a culture that is very work-driven. Working ethics are impressively high in Japan, although one is concerned when seeing the many people falling asleep in public transport or in uncomfortable poses anywhere in the city. Japanese language even provides a word for death caused by too much work: Karōshi. Leisure Landscapes investigates two recreational areas in the Tokyo Bay – the few opportunities for the citizens to swim in the natural sea while the water quality is distressing. The project unfolds the long bathing tradition in Japan and includes images that might remind us of traditional wood carvings from Japan. The Kasai Rinkai Park is built on reclaimed land and provides beaches on two artificial islands. Odaiba is an artificial island created in the Tokyo Bay that is mirrored by a small island (6. Daiba) in front of it which was used for defense in the 19th century (canon island). The small island is inaccessible and given back to nature whereas the modern Daiba is a high-tech entertainment district which was initiated with the idea to become a model for futuristic life. The beach of Odaiba was supposed to become one of the locations of the Olympics 2020. Both islands can become a metaphor for Japan as an island – in the sense of past, present and future.
Leisure Landscapes connects all 3 points of JR202X in itself, the island Odaiba with its history of defeating Tokyo, the time of freezing it in photographs for the project (Now) and the idea of Odaiba as being the model for futuristic life. As a location for the Olympics the Island has also a connection to the future event happening there. The problem of Karōshi and burn-out by too much work is a problem in Japanese society that is very present and that has been accelerated into public media in the process of preparing the Olympics. A vision for a future Japan might be that the citizens of Tokyo will have more time for leisure and that the city and the environmental undertakings will reshape the city.
Artist Bio
Katharina Gruzei (*1983) lives and works in Linz and Vienna, Austria.
She is an independent artist working in various medias ranging from photography, video, film and sound to installation and art in public space. Her works have been shown at international exhibitions, biennals and festivals. She had several solo shows in Austrian Institutions such as the Lentos Museum for contemporary Art Linz (2018) or the Salzburger Kunstverein (2020). In 2018 she presented her works at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. She is the recipient of numerous prizes and scholarships and received international scholarships for Los Angeles, Paris, Moscow, Tokyo and New York.