📘 E-Issue 05 ––VCE Fall 2022
  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in VCE
  3. Pop(Corn): UAE National Pavilion
  4. Rapport: Venice
  5. Zeitgeist of our Time: Füsun Onur for the Turkish Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale
  6. GAD’s Top Picks: National Pavilions
  7. Strangers to the Museum Wall: Kehinde Wiley’s Venice Exhibition Speaks of Violence and Portraiture
  8. Questioning Everyday Life: Alluvium by Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian at OGR Torino in Venice

📒 E-Issue 04 ––IST Spring 2022
  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in IST
  3. Pop(Corn): Refik Anadol
  4. Rapport: Istanbul
  5. Independent Spaces in Istanbul: Sarp Özer on Operating AVTO

E-04++ Spring/Summer 2022
Creating an Artist Books Library in Istanbul: Aslı Özdoyuran on BAS
How Pearl Lam Built Her Gallery Between China and Europe
What’s On in the UAE: Our Top Summer Picks
DXB Art Jameel Joins The World Weather Network in a Groundbreaking Response to Global Climate Crisis
DXB “Geometry is Everywhere”: An Interview and Walking Tour of Order of Magnitude, Jitish Kallat’s Solo Exhibition at Dubai’s Ishara Art Foundation
“We Are Witnessing History”: Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian On Their Retrospective Exhibition at NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery
 Istanbul’s 5533 Presents Nazlı Khoshkhabar’s “Around and Round”
HK Startbahn Presents “Made in Japan 3.0: Defining a New Phy-gital Reality”, an NFT Pop-Up at K11 Art Mall
DXB Dubai's Postmodern Architecture: Constructing the Future with 3dr Models
📘 E-Issue 03 –– TYO Fall 2021
  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in TYO
  3. Pop(Corn): Nimyu
  4. Ahmad The Japanese: Bady Dalloul on Japan and Belonging
  5. Rapport: Tokyo 
  6. Alexandre Taalba Redefines Virtuality at The 5th Floor
  7. Imagining Distant Ecologies in Hypersonic Tokyo: A Review of “Floating Between the Tropical and Glacial Zones”
  8. Ruba Al-Sweel Curates “Garden of e-arthly Delights” at SUMAC Space
  9. Salwa Mikdadi Reflects on the Opening of NYU Abu Dhabi’s Arab Center for the Study of Art

E-03++ Fall/Winter 2021-22
Art Dubai Digital, An Alternative Art World?
Must-See Exhibitions in Dubai - Art Week Edition 2022
Prepare The Ingredients and Let The Rest Flow: Miramar and Zaid’s “Pure Data” Premieres at Satellite for Quoz Arts Fest 2022
 Akira Takayama on McDonald’s Radio University, Heterotopia, and Wagner Project
AUH Woman as a Noun, and a Practice: “As We Gaze Upon Her” at Warehouse421
AAN The Labor of Art and the Art of Labor: Christopher Benton on His First Exhibition in Al Ain
IST “Once Upon a Time Inconceivable”: A Review and a Conversation
RUH Misk Art Institute’s Annual Flagship Exhibition Explores the Universality of Identity
RUH HH Prince Fahad Al Saud Discusses Saudi Arabia’s Artistic Renaissance
Engage101 Presents “Connected, Collected” at Sotheby’s Dubai

📕 E-Issue 02
NYC Spring 2021
  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in NYC
  3. Pop(Corn): Zeid Jaouni
  4. You Can Take The Girl Out Of The City 
  5. Rapport: NYC
  6. Kindergarten Records Discuss The Future of Electronic Music
  7. Sole DXB Brings NY Hip-Hop To Abu Dhabi
  8. Wei Han Finds ‘Home’ In New York
  9. Vikram Divecha: Encounters and Negotiations

E-02++ Spring/Summer 2021
DXB “After The Beep”: A Review and Some Reflections
OSA Rintaro Fuse Curates “Silent Category” at Creative Center Osaka
AUH “Total Landscaping”at Warehouse 421
TYO “Mimicry of Hollows” Opens at The 5th Floor
TYO Startbahn, Japan’s Leading Art Blockchain Company, Builds a New Art Infrastructure for the Digital Age
DXB There Is A You In The Cloud You Can’t Delete: A Review of “Age of You” at Jameel Arts Centre
BAH Mihrab: Mysticism, Devotion, and Geo-Identity
LDN Fulfilment Services Ltd. Questions Techno-Capitalism on Billboards in London
DXB Ana Escobar: Objects Revisited
TYO BIEN Opens Two Solo Exhibitions in Island Japan and Parcel
CTU/AUH/YYZ Sabrina Zhao: Between Abu Dhabi, Sichuan, and Toronto
RUH Noor Riyadh Shines Light on Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Art Strategy
DXB A Riot Towards Landscapes
DXB A ‘Menu Poem’ and All That Follows
DXB Alserkal Art Week Top Picks 
DXB Permeability and Regional Nodes: Sohrab Hura on Curating Growing Like a Tree at Ishara Art Foundation
AUH Re-viewing Contrasts: Hyphenated Spaces at Warehouse421
DXB There’s a Hurricane at the Foundry

📙 E-Issue 01 –– AUH/DXB Summer 2020 
  1. Editor’s Note 
  2. What’s On in the UAE
  3. Pop(Corn): Hashel Al Lamki
  4. Tailoring in Abu Dhabi
  5. Rapport: Dubai 
  6. Michael Rakowitz From the Diaspora

E-01++ Fall/Winter 2020-21
GRV MIA Anywhere Hosts First Virtual Exhibition of Female Chechen Artists    
DXB Sa Tahanan Collective Redefines Home for Filipino Artists
SHJ Sharjah Art Foundation Jets Ahead on the Flying Saucer
AUH SEAF Cohort 7 at Warehouse 421 
DXB 101 Strikes Again with Second Sale at Alserkal Avenue
DXB Spotlight on Dubai Design Week 2020
DXB Melehi’s Waves Complicate Waving Goodbye
DXB Kanye Says Listen to the Kids: Youth Takeover at Jameel Arts Centre
DAM Investigating the Catalogues of the National Museum of Damascus
AUH Ogamdo: Crossing a Cultural Highway between Korea and the UAE
TYO James Jarvis Presents Latest Collages at 3110NZ
DXB Do You See Me How I See You?
DXB Thaely Kicks Off Sustainable Sneakers
AUH BAIT 15 Welcomes New Member Zuhoor Al Sayegh
MIA a_part Gives Artists 36 Hours to React

UAE Tawahadna Introduces MENA Artists to a Global Community
LHR/CAI Alaa Hindia’s Jewelry Revives Egyptian Nostalgia
DXB Taaboogah Infuses Comedy Into Khaleeji Menswear
DXB Meet Tamila Kochkarova Behind ‘No Boys Allowed’
DXB Alserkal Arts Foundation Presents Mohamed Melehi
AUH/DXB 101 Pioneers Ethical and Curious Art Collecting
AUH Sarah Almehairi Initiates Conversations
DXB Augustine Paredes Taking Up Space
LHR/MCT Hanan Sultan Rhymes Frankincense with Minimalism
BEY GAD Map: Arts & Culture Relief for Beirut

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🎙️ GAD Talk Series –– Season 1 2020
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    2. Where is GAD? An Open Coversation on Migration as Art Practitioners

    3. When the Youth Takes Over: Reflecting on the 2020 Jameel Arts Centre Youth Takeover
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Tatsuya Tanaka at Dubai Expo 2020 Japan Pavilion

By Sophie Arni

Published on February 11, 2022

        With over 10 million visitors, Dubai Expo 2020 is the talk of the town. On view until March 31st, this month marks your last chance to visit this spectacular event. Invited to visit the Japan Pavilion, I was very excited to discover the ways Japan represented itself ahead of the next Osaka Expo in 2025.

1. Japan Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020. Supplied image, courtesy of Japan Pavilion Dubai Expo 2020.

For the past 170 years, the Expo is one of the world’s major international events, held every five years in a new city. Dubai Expo 2020 marks the first Expo ever held in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, a historical moment for this region often dubbed as part of the Global South. Delayed by a year because of the pandemic, Dubai Expo opened its doors in a majestically large location 30-minutes drive from downtown Dubai. Pavilion after pavilion have been designed to reflect their respective countries’ materials, shapes, or thematics - often in postmodern style. Glass and metal materials have been preferred, perhaps because of environmental and weather concerns, which added to the “Dubai-ness” of the whole affair. Inside each pavilion, immersive digital installations have been the preferred mode of expression to showcase cultural insights, histories, as well as future technological developments of each participating country. While the UK dedicated their pavilion to Artificial Intelligence technology, Pakistan chose a vibrant rainbow of colors for its impressive pavilion architecture, to symbolize amongst others the richness of its craftsmanship - with a dedicated bazaar on-site - and a plethora of street food cultures. Arguably the most popular pavilion after the UAE host pavilion, has been Saudi Arabia’s. Standing taller than most, the striking slanted structure was designed in cooperation with Boris Micka Associates, with an architecture fusing digital technology and receiving the LEED Platinum Certification - the highest internationally-recognized sustainability rating.

In this maze of Opportunity, Mobility, and other positively-worded Expo Sections, the Japan Pavilion stands out for its glass-studded architecture. Distinctively Japanese, the structure boasts a water garden in front of it. The architecture was designed by Yuko Nagayama, in cooperation with NTT Facilities, with heavy use of glass (produced, manufactured, and imported from Japan).  The design refers to a “three-dimensional expression with Japanese Origami shapes,” as the architect recounted to Arab News Japan. Nagayama explained the triangular shapes were also inspired by Egyptian pyramids, that she called “the ultimate form of geometry” and a nod to the broader MENA region.

Under the theme of “Where ideas meet”, the Japan Pavilion is meant to be an immersive, digital-first experience to acquaint visitors with the rich history of Japan from the Jōmon period to current era, passing through the Edo and Meiji periods. More importantly, I felt a certain sense of futurism linked with the specific narrative of the Pavilion’s audiovisual experience. Perhaps quite removed from the daily realities of Japanese daily life - especially Japan under coronavirus scare and closed borders - the narrative focused on diversity of thought and people coming together in unison. 

2. Japan Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020, digital immersive experiences, scene 1-4. Supplied images, courtesy of Japan Pavilion Dubai Expo 2020.

While Tokyo, Osaka, and other major cities are very fast-paced, Japanese culture is also rooted in its slow motion and ability to focus on one thing at a time. This attention to detail is best exemplified by Tanaka Tatusya (b. 1981, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan), the chosen visual artist to represent Japan to Dubai’s eager public. Tatsuya’s installation is made of 128 displays of miniatures which were personally and individually assembled for the events. Categorized in 4 themes - Space, City, Sea and Land, the miniatures showcase elements of Japanese life and many scenes featuring palm trees and swimming pools - perhaps a nod from the artist to his visions of Dubai. Tatsuya’s tongue-in-cheek miniatures are tiny, cute, and makes visitors smile, combining common objects with an immense library of tiny figurines. The result is scenes that are relatable to a wide audience, from all ages.

3. Tanaka Tatsuya, installation view at Japan Pavilion Dubai Expo 2020. Mitate artist, Innovation Room. Image courtesy of Japan Pavilion Dubai Expo 2020.

Tatsuya, whose background as an Art Director as a design firm informs his rich sense of color and detail, began creating his Miniature Calendar in 2011 and has since gained a lot of visibility in both the art world and popular media. Very active on Instagram with 3.1 million followers, he is known as the first “miniature” photographer, shooting one “miniature” photograph a day for more than 10 years. His traveling exhibition “Miniature Life Exhibition: Tatsuya Tanaka’s World of Resemblance” has attracted over 1,600,000 visitors in Japan in August 2021.

4. Tanaka Tatsuya, installation view at Japan Pavilion Dubai Expo 2020. Mitate artist, Innovation Room. Image courtesy of Japan Pavilion Dubai Expo 2020.

While the artist choice of Tatsuya made the installation very accessible to a wide audience, especially those not unfamiliar with more conceptual art exhibitions, my curatorial inclinations would have liked to see the inclusion of other digital-first Japanese artists from a younger generation. I can think of Heijiro Yagi, a brilliant graphic designer and student of Tokyo University of the Arts, who could have produced incredible abstract calligraphy models with CGI technology, or Rintaro Fuse who curated an exhibition of silence and digitalization in an abandoned shipyard at Creative Center Osaka. While these younger artists may not have the notoriety of Tatsuya, his appealing sense of humor, nor the experience of exhibiting to large international audiences, it would have been interesting to see ways they would bridge Dubai to Osaka as a site for the next Expo iteration – while also bringing home the theme of diversity of thought running throughout the entire Pavilion. Tatsuya’s choice was a very intelligent one and responded directly to the Expo’s visitors demands and expectations, yet I wonder how a group exhibition would have complemented the “Where ideas meet” theme.

Tatsuya’s choice was a very intelligent one and responded directly to the Expo’s visitors demands and expectations, yet I wonder how a group exhibition would have complemented the “Where ideas meet” theme.

The pavilion ended with a presentation room about the next 2025 Osaka Expo. Showcasing the many economic and natural resources of Osaka’s Kansai region, the room marked a fresh break from the digital immersive experience and gave visitors insights into the next Expo to come.

I understand that the pandemic has made logistical installation very difficult, and I applaud Japan Pavilion for their efforts to create an incredibly rich glimpse into Japanese culture. The tour guides - flown in from Japan and staying months at a time on-site at Dubai Expo - made the digital experience feel humanized and participatory, which is quite a challenge in the middle of social distancing measures.

The Japanese cultural experience is one that is deeply intuitive, rooted in the unsaid and unspoken feeling that a certain object or encounter can produce. This sense was very much alive at the Pavilion thanks to its digital activations, soundscapes, and Tatsuya’s miniatures. I certainly look forward to visiting the host Japan Pavilion at Osaka Expo in three short years.

5. Scene 6, Japan Pavilion Dubai Expo 2020. Image courtesy of Japan Pavilion Dubai Expo 2020.

Learn more about the Japan Pavilion.
Visit Dubai Expo.

Sophie Arni is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Global Art Daily. Also an independent curator, her research interests lie in the history of cultural exchanges between the Arabian Gulf and Japan. She graduated from NYU Abu Dhabi with a BA in Art History and a MPhil in Curatorial Studies from Tokyo University of the Arts.