Preparations are now underway for Aichi Triennale 2013, eagerly anticipated following the first and highly successful Triennale in 2010, which welcomed over 570,000 visitors.

But it's a launch on turbulent seas.

Triggered by the terrible earth-shaking force of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, the ocean, once bearer of so much natural bounty, assailed towns along the coastline in a catastrophe compounded by a nuclear power plant accident.

The international arts showcase that is the Aichi Triennale comes at a time of enormous challenges for Japan, and a pressing need to turn the nation's fortunes around.

Thus, while naturally retaining the best elements of the first Triennale in terms of presenting cutting-edge artistic practice, Aichi Triennale 2013 will incorporate new plans and contemporary developments aimed at helping us to navigate these choppy waters.

In the late nineteenth century Paul Gauguin produced a painting titled “Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?” In contrast, at this Triennale we seek to ponder the question: “Where are we standing?”

Bereft of the very foundations we took for granted, and with existing frameworks in a state of flux, we need to work out what has happened to the ground we stand on: our identity.

It is a question, in my view, that also prompts us to ponder in a specific way the inherent character of places. Festive scenes that spill out onto the streets, as opposed to remaining inside the box of the museum, are a feature of the Aichi Triennale, and by interposing the arts afresh, we not only open up the possibilities of urban spaces, but through the works presented, rediscover the everyday places in which we already stand.

Drawing out the power of place and altering the meaning of space are not just about art and architecture.

At this Triennale, in the field of performing arts too spaces characterized by experimental fusion with the visual arts will emerge that are only accessible in the here and now.

The catastrophe of March 11 this year in which so many lives were lost sparked debate on what role art could possibly play in the face of such monumental tragedy.

Nor is this a solely Japanese question.

Opinions vary, but I'm certain most would agree that one role art ought to play is that of the most powerful cultural memory device ever created by humanity to ensure the past is not forgotten.

Art should also summon up memories, and resurrect hope. So that we can pick ourselves up and begin to walk, gazing up at blue skies.

The aim of Aichi Triennale 2013 will be to probe society about the power of art via memories and resurrection linked to particular places, and make the communities where we live brighter and better.

Taro Igarashi
October 2011