Once upon a time, Japanese artist Hiroshi Fuji was “grappling to find his artistic expression”. So in 1986, he joined the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers and went to live in Papua New Guinea. There, he taught at the National Arts School and had a formative experience: Time and time again, during ceremonies, he witnessed a feeble, shaggy dog stand up against a wild hog. This shocked and impressed Fuji, inspiring him to form his artistic philosophy: “ways of transforming existences (thoughts) that are not valued by society into special existences.”
Upon returning to Japan, Fuji continued his creative work with local resources, technology, and collaborative relationships. Fuji describes this methodology as “expression through materials acquired on the spot, using methods suitable for the place, with people present at the time”. In 2000, he started “Kaekko,” a toy exchange program with over 5000 events at more than 1000 different sites across Japan and internationally to date. The “Kaekko” project provided a space for children to trade toys with each other and to create new pieces based on the collected toys.
Recently, Fuji held an exhibition called Central Kaeru Station – Where Have All These Toys Come From? “Kaeru” means to change, return and exchange, and the name refers to Fuji’s “Kaekko” project. With the 50,000 Anpanman, Doraemon and other toys collected over the course of the years, Fuji created the epic, recycled installations shown here.
Think the whole is greater than the sum of its parts? Click through for more from Hiroshi Fuji, and have a fantastic weekend.