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  • Dialogue 3
  • Haraguchi Noriyuki with Reiko Tomii
    Translated by Rika Iezumi Hiro (bio)

Are you a Mono-ha artist? I am asking this question, partly because you are not a member of Mono-ha in its narrowest sense, as defined and codified by the critic Minemura Toshiaki to include the four artists who preceded you in this panel, and partly because you participated in the recent Mono-ha retrospectives of 1995 and 2005.


Strictly speaking, I am not a Mono-ha artist. However, I gradually developed a relationship with Sekine Nobuo and Lee Ufan during my college years. We also share the specificity of the year 1968, when there was a student movement, in which universities were locked down or barricaded and Zenkyōtō (All-Student Joint Struggle Councils) occupied the campuses. I was around nineteen or twenty years old, and I was strongly affected by this context.

Back then, in that situation, I sensed that a change in the era was taking place in society as a whole. As an art student, I began to question what art was and what art meant. Rather than thinking about it myself, I confronted such things as a series of relations, just as others have been talking today.

There was of course the avant-garde and the Anti-Art movement through the mid-1960s. I thought about resistance, the issue of being anti, and the avant-garde, which all concerned “distance.” I would observe things, but rather than observing things as a Mono-ha artist, I became extremely interested in matter, taking up industrial materials, including ready-made products.

I also thought about how I myself engage with space, time, site, and my own body.


In a twofold sense, your biography intersects with the political situation of the late 1960s in Japan. First, you were born and raised in Yokosuka, the location of a large American military base. Second, you were a student at Nihon University, a flashpoint [End Page 232]

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Figure 22.1.

Haraguchi Noriyuki, Tsumu 147, 1966. Mixed media on panel; 134 × 179 × 9 cm.

Photo courtesy of Fergus McCaffrey.

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Figure 22.2.

Haraguchi Noriyuki, Untitled (Corsair), 1972. Silkscreen on washi paper, edition 7/50; 54 × 81 cm.

Photo courtesy of Fergus McCaffrey.

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Figure 22.3 (2 views).

Haraguchi Noriyuki, A-7 E Corsair II, 2011. Raw canvas, graphite, aluminum, wood, plywood; 430 × 553 × 400cm.

Photo courtesy of Fergus McCaffrey.

of the radical student movement Zenkyōto and, as such, a center of the nationwide antiwar and anti-American movement. Your early works that reflect this background were exhibited in 2011 at McCaffrey Fine Art in New York (figs. 22.1 and 22.2). At the same time, your subsequent works appear to have shed their political elements, focusing on minimalism in expression (pl. 7, fig. 18.5). What does “art and politics” mean to you? [End Page 233]


It was a tumultuous time, when I was an art student. I found it nonsensical to be confined within the framework of art education and thus stepped outside of it. I then encountered the contemporary art scene. I made Battleships (1963–65), when I was nineteen, while A-7 E Corsair II (2011, fig. 22.3), is a recent work, based on a work from that time. These came out of deliberating on what our society and the era had been, and what it is. Your question touched on minimalist form, which for me operates as a kind of measure, or a scale with which to gauge gravity. The function of my work Oil Pool (1973–ongoing) is to measure the perfect level. In these works I place verticality and horizontality or a natural or physical phenomenon within a certain site, space, and under a certain amount of light, in a direct and simplified manner, and the result is a minimalist appearance. Yet, as I mentioned, my central concern is not so much the minimal object or form but the pursuit of observing, grasping, and connecting with the world and the era through my body.



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pp. 232-234
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