Christopher Benton, student in the ACT class of 2023, currently has work in three group exhibitions around Tokyo as part of the East-East Vol. 4: The Curio Shop exhibition. Within these three shows, Benton will be presenting five different works across film and sculpture.

HB Nezu, Tokyo, Japan: June 18 – July 2, 2021
BLOCKHOUSE, Tokyo, Japan: July 8 – July 23, 2021
ILY Hub, Tokyo, Japan – July 1- July 23, 2021

The first exhibition of its kind in Tokyo, East-East Vol.4: The Curio Shop is a cross-cultural group exhibition featuring the works of fifteen artists from the Arabian Gulf and Japan. This exhibition premieres the following artists, based in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, in Japan: Aisha Al Ali, Aliyah Al Awadhi, Almaha Jaralla, Arthur de Oliveira, Christopher Benton, Hashel Al Lamki, Salman Al Najem, and Khalid Mezaina. The exhibition also features the works of six Japanese artists: BIEN, DAISAK, Heijiro Yagi, Koiichiro Tada, Rintaro Fuse, and Tomoki Kurokawa.

East-East Vol.4: The Curio Shop marks the fourth iteration of the East-East: UAE meets Japan exhibition series, which started in 2016 at the NYU Abu Dhabi Project Space. After two subsequent volumes at CHI-KA Space, an art space in Alserkal Avenue, Dubai, UAE (2016-2017), East-East debuts its Tokyo edition this summer.

The East-East exhibition series stems from an intention to decentralize Eurocentric art historical approaches by showcasing a new generation of artists who engage in cross-cultural dialogues between the Arabian Gulf and East Asia. “Why look towards the West when we can look East?” is the question posed by Sophie Mayuko Arni, exhibition curator and a graduate of NYU Abu Dhabi’s Art History program (BA, 2017) as well as from the Department of Global Arts from Tokyo University of the Arts (MPhil, 2020). Immersed in Abu Dhabi and Tokyo’s art scenes with her grassroots art publication Global Art Daily, this exhibition is the product of years of conversations and relationship-building with some of the most promising UAE-based and Japanese artists of her generation.

This exhibition’s subtitle is The Curio Shop. Inspired by the title of Felice Beato’s photograph taken in Yokohama in 1868, this exhibition seeks to transpose the idea of the “curio” in today’s Tokyo. “Nothing attracts a stranger so readily, as the sight of a Japanese Curio shop” reads the label for Beato’s historic photograph, which the curator aims to transpose to 21st century Tokyo. The exhibition will be presented at three venues located throughout central Tokyo: first in Nezu, next to the University of Tokyo and Tokyo University of the Arts campus, at HB.Nezu, and later in Daikanyama at ILY Hub and Harajuku at BLOCK HOUSE.

Exhibition curator Sophie Mayuko Arni comments, ““Curios,” a 19th-century abbreviation for “curiosities,” used to describe works of fine craftsmanship sold in Japan to early foreign settlers in late 19th century Japanese port cities. “Curio-hunting” was one of their favorite pastimes and the most popular product categories were porcelain, lacquerware, bronze-work, bamboo work, silk embroidery, and woodcut prints. Two centuries later, instead of lacquerware and porcelain vases, manga, anime, and digital design have emerged as today’s Japanese curios. In the Arabian Gulf, images of postmodern architecture, skyscrapers, and desert dunes have emerged as some sort of “jpg curio”, instantly recognizable images of the Gulf and its booming economy. This exhibition will aim to present a contemporary and youth-led version of a cabinet of
curiosities blending these two geographies in an East-East context.”