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Special Exhibition “The Quarries of Imagination — Stones between Art and Artifact”

August 24, 2018

Event Details

Event Type Exhibition
Intended for General public / Enrolled students / Applying students / International students / Alumni / Companies / Elementary school students / Junior high school students / High school students / University students / Academic and Administrative Staff
Date(s) September 26, 2018 — January 27, 2019
Location Other campuses/off-campus
Venue Intermediatheque 2F [GREY CUBE]
[Address] KITTE 2-3F, 2-7-2 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN
[Access] JR lines and Tokyo Metro Marunouchi line Tokyo Station. Direct access from the Marunouchi Underground Pathway.
[Opening Hours] 11:00 - 18:00 (Open until 20:00 on Fridays and Saturdays) Last admission 30 minutes before closing.
*Opening hours may change.
[Closed on] Mondays (or the following Tuesday if Monday is a National Holiday) and Year-end holidays. May close irregularly.
Entrance Fee No charge
Registration Method No advance registration required
Contact +81 3 5777 8600 (Hello Dial)
As a new experiment in the Intermediatheque’s ongoing venture into Art & Science, this special exhibition co-curated with French artist Hugues Reip delves into the world of stones, through a unique installation combining contemporary artworks with scientific specimens. In order to elucidate contemporary artists’ renewed interest in stones as a new perspective on the natural world and on science, we are gathering a hundred items comprising scientific specimens from various disciplines and contemporary artworks rarely shown in Japan, belonging to collections in Japan and abroad. As various stones, belonging to such different realms and temporalities as nature, science and art, intermingle in the exhibition space, you are invited to consider how stones as natural objects are given form and function, gradually gaining the status of an artifact to which historical significance and social value are attributed.


[Organizer] The University Museum, the University of Tokyo (UMUT)
[Cooperation] agnès b. endowment fund + Shigeru Yokota Gallery
[Patronage] Van Cleef & Arpels + Institut français + French Embassy in Japan


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Exhibition Concept

Stones are among the natural substances which have very little to do with human consciousness. In the traditional classification of the natural world dating back to Aristotle, the mineral world was a major constituent along with the animal and vegetal realms; however, it was also the only one to be dissociated from the organic environment surrounding humans. Inorganic minerals produced in the course of a geological temporality beyond the scope of human imagination offered a unique material, both complex in structure and resistant, that could defy the passing of time. It is human activity that produced the Venus de Milo from a formless block of marble, transforming it into an artifact symbolizing human cultural heritage. However, as André Breton had predicted in his famous essay Language of Stones, the cultural status of stones changed drastically in the mid 20th century: from a simple material, they became the subject of artworks. The complex structure and the unique shape of stones thus guided the formal aesthetic of sculptors and artists. Furthermore, in contemporary art, stones are used in artworks as a token of nature, either unprocessed (as a readymade) or reshaped (as an artifact), giving birth to a unique, abstract form of expression. To each of these contemporary artworks exploring the imaginary realm of stones, the present exhibition associates scientific specimens from the University collections, produced as an index of the mineral world. Such a fusion of art and science highlights how important the context is important in establishing a stone’s function, form and significance, as a similar item will have a different meaning and a different value depending on its context. The public, while enjoying the beauty of specimens and the intellectual stimulation of demanding artworks, will thus have a unique opportunity to reconsider the process that turns natural objects into artworks.


Exhibited Artists

Apollo Project [NASA] / Abdelkader BENCHAMMA (1975-) /
Michel BLAZY (1966-) / Brassaï (1899-1984) /
Frédéric BRULY BOUABRÉ (1923-2014) /
Melanie COUNSELL (1964-) /
François CURLET (1967-) /
Daniel DEWAR (1976-) & Grégory GICQUEL (1975-) /
Mimosa ECHARD (1986-) / Roland FLEXNER (1944-) /
Michel FRANÇOIS (1956-) / Piero GILARDI (1942-) /
Mona HATOUM (1952-) / IZUMI Masatoshi (1938-) /
Valérie JOUVE (1964-) / Jacques JULIEN (1967-) /
André KERTÉSZ (1894-1985) / Helen LEVITT (1913-2009) /
Robert MALAVAL (1937-1980) / Didier MARCEL (1961-) /
Ryan McGINLEY (1977-) / Mathieu MERCIER (1970-) /
Marcel MIRACLE (1957-) / Charlotte MOTH (1978-) /
Jean-Luc MOULÈNE (1955-) / Gabriel OROZCO (1962-) /
Sigmar POLKE (1941-2010) / Hugues REIP (1964-) /
Évariste RICHER (1969-) / Jean-Michel SANEJOUAND (1934-) /
Franck SCURTI (1965-) / Sigurdur Arni SIGURDSSON (1963-) /
Fabio VISCOGLIOSI (1965-)

Exhibited Collections

The University Museum, the University of Tokyo [Mineralogy / Paleoanthropology / Archaeology]
agnès b. collection (contemporary art)
various private collections (contemporary art)

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