Money, Trains, and Guillotines

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-03-27
  • Publisher: Duke Univ Pr
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In Japan in the 1960s a group of young artists challenged official forms of politics and daily life through interventionist art practices. William Marotti situates this phenomenon in the historical and political contexts of post-WWII Japan and of international 1960s activism. In 1960, the Japanese government renewed its partnership with the US in the Cold War, defeating protest against a new Security Treaty through parliamentary action and riot police. Afterwards, the government promoted a depoliticized everyday world of high growth and consumption, creating a sanitized national image to present in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Artists were first to challenge this new political mythology. Marotti examines their political art, and the state's aggressive response to it. He reveals the challenge mounted in projects such as Akasegawa Genpei's printed 1000-yen notes, a group performance on the busy Yamanote train line, and a plan for a giant guillotine in the Imperial Plaza. Focusing on the annual Yomiuri Indépendant exhibitions, he demonstrates how artists came together in a playful but powerful critical art, triggering judicial and police response. Money, Trains, and Guillotinesexpands our understanding of the role of art in the international 1960s, and of the dynamics of art and policing in Japan.

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