On Other Surfaces | 8 |

Table of Contents

From the end of World War II to the 1960s, contemporary Japanese art enjoyed a revival and a prospering of the avant-garde. In contrast, Japanese art in the 1970s was getting more and more insular. Responding to the end of rapid economic growth and the resolution of the student movement, the avant-garde movement fell apart, and a spirit of gloomy introspection, as well as de-socialized and idealistic discourses, became mainstream.

The “Mono-ha” movement is often held up as representative of 1970s Japanese art. According to Ufan Lee, an ideologue of Mono-ha, this movement rejected the cocept of creation and claimed to release a “world as it is” in order to radically criticize the modernity and symbolism associated with the 1960s onwards.

However, the Mono-ha discourses represented by Lee concealed the contemporaneity and sociality that Mono-ha works originally possessed. Mono-ha’s praxis did not stop at criticizing modernity in a narrow sense, but synchronized with a broader range of issues that reached at the domain of politics and society beyond art criticism in the 1970s, such as the thought of civil engineering and national land planning.

In this article, Kurose traces the birth of the existing “Mono-ha myth” back to the end of the 1960s, analyzes Nobuo Sekine’s Phase—Mother Earth (1968) and Jin Nomura’s Tardiology (1969), and reexamines their statements. Kurose finally corrects the factual errors of the “Mono-ha myth,” and reveals the art of the 1970s as not merely an insular criticism of modernity, but as reflection of broader cultural trends of the age.