Symbiosis Living Island Japan House London

Symbiosis: Living Island

Symbiosis Living Island Japan House London

Step onto the island of Inujima in this exhibition which explores how an extraordinary living art project is transforming the island’s landscape and lives of its inhabitants.

For the past 13 years, this tiny island in the Seto Inland Sea has been host to the Inujima ‘Art House Project’, an innovative scheme bringing together artists with the local population.

The aim of the project is to use art, pavilions and creative projects to breathe life back into an island with a diminishing population, ensuring its future and enriching the lives of its inhabitants.

Central to the project is the concept of ‘symbiosis’ – the interaction between nature and architecture – with the installations, buildings and works of art created as part of the project being inextricably linked with their surroundings.

Guests to the exhibition follow a journey around the island, taking in the architectural models of the pavilions for the artists’ works, photography and videos, and testimonies from residents on the transformative impact of the project on their lives. These wide-ranging works combine to convey a vision of Inujima as a living entity and potential blueprint of co-existence for the future.  

The exhibition is curated by the Inujima ‘Art House Project’ artistic director Hasegawa Yuko, Director of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art of Kanazawa, alongside internationally renowned architect Sejima Kazuyo, a founding member of the SANAA office and winner of the Pritzker award in 2010. Together, these inspiring women are a driving force for regional revitalization through accessible art and architecture.

Yellow Flower Dream

A partial full-scale replica of Yellow Flower Dream (an artwork created for the Inujima ‘Art House Project’ in 2018) by Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes is available to view on the Ground Floor.

Interview with Simon Wright, Director of Programming at Japan House London

Simon Wright introduces the exhibition Symbiosis: Living Island.

About the Inujima ‘Art House Project’

The Inujima ‘Art House Project’ is one part of Benesse Art Site Naoshima – a collection of islands in the Seto Inland Sea which are being transformed through art.

At just 0.54 km², a circuit of the island of Inujima on foot takes just one hour. It is home to only about 30 households with occupants all aged 70 or above.

Once a flourishing hub of the copper refining and stone quarrying industry, Inujima now hosts a series of galleries constructed from recycled materials, transparent acrylic glass and aluminium, each reflecting and preserving the landscape, ecology and industrial heritage of the island.

Over the last four years, the project has expanded to include a botanical garden in a greenhouse, a bar and amenities for visitors to stay on the island. The ultimate purpose is to open the island as a platform for art and culture and to create a holistic ecology that has the inhabitants of the island at its heart.

Find out more about the Inujima ‘Art House Project’ on the Benesse Art Site Naoshima website. 

Exhibition Introduction

Hasegawa Yuko, Curator of Symbiosis: Living Island and Director of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art of Kanazawa, talks about the exhibition at Japan House London.