Gallery 1: A New Type of Poetic Experience

The first space that visitors encounter is an experiential room, where Tanikawa Shuntaro’s poetry fuses with the music of Oyamada Keigo (Cornelius) and visual imagery created by interface designer Nakamura Yugo (tha ltd.). The marriage of Oyamada’s music with the inherent rhythmicality of Tanikawa’s poems, like the ‘Kappa’ from the much-adored picture book WORD GAMES: Nonsense Pictures and Rhymes, will not disappoint. The collage of visual imagery and sounds, which include Tanikawa’s own voice, steeps the poetry, creating a new all-encompassing poetic experience.

Gallery 2: Self-Introduction

Arguably Japan’s best-known living poet, Tanikawa Shuntaro is a household name. Yet ask someone what he is known best for, and the answer is likely to differ drastically between generations. In this space, taking Tanikawa’s 20-line poem ‘Self-Introduction’ as our inspiration, we exhibit material associated with Tanikawa on 20 different themes, as a way of re-examining the Tanikawa that we think we know so well. The poem has been separated up into its twenty constituent lines, which are displayed on pillars alongside selected poems, music and objects that influenced Tanikawa, family photographs, letters to those dear to him, his collection of radios, fragments from his everyday life, unknown work, and so on. Using Tanikawa’s own ‘Self-Introduction’ poem as a means of introducing the man himself, this section of the exhibition brings into relief the deep connection running between his poetry and his day-to-day life.

Corridor: 3.3 Questions and Answers

This section takes its name from Tanikawa’s 1986 collection 33 Questions and Answers, which in turn is a reference to an Exposé interview with Norman Kingsley Mailer entitled 69 Questions and Answers. In this project, Tanikawa came up with 33 questions, which he then put to seven acquaintances, collecting the resulting dialogue into a book. In this exhibition, Tanikawa updated the project by selecting three of his original 33 questions, and adding a further 0.3 of a question to create a total of 3.3 questions. These questions were then put to people in various fields, and their responses displayed along the corridor. How much can these simple questions reveal about their respondents’ way of seeing the world? Asking, answering, observing this process—all of these transpire to be profoundly poetic experiences.