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Greeting from the Director

On the Tenth Anniversary of the Opening of The Museum of Modern Art, Hayama


        It was on October 11, 2003 that the third building of our museum opened in Hayama, a scenic location facing Isshiki Beach. The opening day was blessed with beautiful crisp autumn weather and many well-wishers. I recall it vividly as if it were only yesterday. Yet, this year, in 2013, we are already celebrating its tenth anniversary.
        There has probably never been a completely peaceful period in any age.
        Looking extensively around the world, some region or other has always been in the midst of the maelstrom of war. Among the human beings, be it on the level of friends or nations, confrontations of all degrees have continued to arise. Ivan Illich (1926-2002), a great thinker who continuously criticized the limits of contemporary civilization, once pointed out that peace and war are not concepts of time but of space. The meaning of what Illich indicated has never been sensed so poignantly as during the past decade. One has to say, not “There were peaceful times,” but “There were peaceful places.”
         Bearing the ravages of war in mind, however peaceful areas other than that may have been, to those involved in the turmoil of war, it would have been no other than a turbulent era. It has always been the viewpoint of the authority’s side that has argued vehemently that peace prevails. The clearly sycophantic Latin expressions “Pax Romana” and “Pax Americana” demonstrate this precisely. Peace has always been longed for by people in weak positions in an obscure corner of the earth.
        The past decade was also a period of turbulence.
        Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, via the dissolution of the Soviet Union, for just a little while, the annulment of ideological confrontation made us imagine a fresh possibility of peaceful coexistence. However, the September 11 terror attacks in the U.S. in 2001 brought to light the fact that highly advanced capitalism and an information-oriented society were accelerating the social gap increasingly on a global scale. Stefan Zweig (1881-1942), a fin-de-siècle Viennese writer, was banished by the Nazis and driven to despair, committed suicide in Rio de Janeiro together with his young wife. The World of Yesterday, a masterpiece of reminiscent literature he finished writing in 1940, exquisitely conveys the splendor and fall of the Habsburg Empire. In it, he recalls fondly but with pain of the loss how, just before the First World War, for example, the citizens of Salzburg and Munich could come and go across the border freely to enjoy cheaper and tastier beer or wine without anyone being aware of the border.
        Thanks to the dramatic advance of communication technology, we can correspond instantaneously, for example, with someone in Lagos, Nigeria sitting in Japan in the Far East. Yet, in the meantime, division and disparity are accelerating all the more. The demolition of cultural assets in the Republic of Mali amidst the confusion of a military coup is fresh in our memory. It was the most heartbreaking cultural vandalism in the past few years. Being forced to stop for inspection over and over again as one goes up north towards the Sahara shows how awkward the world is today.
        Why is an art museum necessary in such times?
         The answer may be surprisingly easy. It is a place where one can encounter fine examples of the plastic arts freely without having to go through (or having slipped through) inspection and connect them to the area or generation. It has the potential of infinitely transcending restrictions of time and space. Sustainability is an indispensable condition for that. We must not lose to the despair of loss.
         We are aware that the situation of our museum, which has hitherto been managed as three museums, Kamakura, Kamakura Annex, and Hayama, is obscure and difficult. Keeping that in mind, we are prepared to proceed with our eyes on the future. We would be most grateful for your kind understanding and support to enable our modest activities to be continued uninterruptedly in the next decade and the decades to follow.

July 2013

(Director, The Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura & Hayama)