Miwako Tezuka appointed director of Japan Society Gallery
By Hanae Ko
Miwako Tezuka, currently associate curator at New York’s Asia Society, has been appointed the new director of the Japan Society Gallery in New York. A longtime New York-based curator specializing in modern and contemporary Japanese art, Tezuka recently headed the popular survey “Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody’s Fool,” a large-scale retrospective of the Japanese Pop-artist, at the Asia Society in 2010. Tezuka, who will be the first Japanese director of the Gallery when she takes over the position from Joe Earle, will begin her tenure on July 2.
“I am honored to join Japan Society and to work with its dedicated staff to create exciting exhibitions and related programming that stir the imaginations of the New York audience and people the world over,” said Tezuka in a statement released in response to the announcement. “The uniqueness of Japan Society as a multidisciplinary organization allows us to develop projects that fully present the dynamic energy, diversity and complexity embodied within Japanese arts and culture.”
At the Asia Society, Tezuka was responsible for organizing exhibitions of contemporary Asian and Asian-American artists. She co-curated “Projected Realities: Video Art from East Asia” (2006), the first exhibition at Asia Society to focus on video art. Also, when the Asia Society launched its video art collection the following year, she played a key role in selecting and managing the artwork. From 2007 she also oversaw “In Focus,” an exhibition series, through which she realized the first solo museum shows in New York of such artists as Yuken Teruya of Japan, and U-Ram Choe from Korea. Her other curatorial projects at Asia Society have included “Yang Fudong: Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest” (2009) and “Mariko Mori: Kumano” (2010).
Apart from her role as curator, Tezuka is also an active art scholar, and has been invited to advise and lecture at various international institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She received her PhD from the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University in 2005, with a dissertation focusing on the Japanese avant-garde art group Jikken Kobo (“Experimental Workshop”). In 2003, Tezuka co-founded the online network PoNJA-GenKon (Post-1945 Japanese Art Discussion Group, or in Japanese Gendai Bijutsu Kondankai), which connects scholars and art professionals specializing in post-war and contemporary Japanese art.
Commenting on her aspirations for the Japan Society Gallery, in an email to ArtAsiaPacific, Tezuka says: “I would like to show Japan as an inspiration. I would like to transform Japan Society into an experimental laboratory of sorts, physically and conceptually, where people find explosive power and imagination in the classical arts, and ideas are generated by contemporary artists—a place where we can really understand that real tradition is always avant-garde at the time it emerged.”