In “Collectivism and Its Repercussions in 20th-Century Japan,” Reiko Tomii examines the important role that collectivism played in twentieth-century Japanese art. Until 1945, “exhibition collectivism” allowed dissident artists in Japan to circumvent the rigid salon system that dominated mainstream art and secure their own forums by establishing new exhibition societies. After 1945, collectivism became an engine of vanguard expansion in the public sphere: innovative artists formed more agile and flexible types of assembly to pursue performance art and conceptualism. The essay is published as an introduction to Tomii’s guest-edited issue of the interdisciplinary journal, Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique (Spring 2013).
Reiko Tomii is an independent art historian and curator who investigates post-1945 Japanese art in global and local contexts. She has recently co-curated, with Hiroko Ikegami, “Shinohara Pops! The Avant-Garde Road, Tokyo/New York” for Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz. She has presented her papers at the Backroom Conversation program of Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong (2011 and 2012), and co-organized a symposium titled “Voices of Mono-ha Artists: Contemporary Art in Japan, Circa 1970” at the University of Southern California Center for Japanese Religions and Culture (2012). As a co-founder of the listserv group PoNJA-GenKon (Post-1945 Japanese Art Discussion Group-Gendai Bijutsu Kondankai), she has co-organized conferences and panels with Yale University (2005), Getty Research Institute and UCLA (2007), Guggenheim Museum (2009), University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (2010), and University of Southern California (2012). Her current writing project is a book-length study: What Is “Contemporary Art”? Gendai Bijutsu and International Contemporaneity in 1960s Japan.