160 artist, 50 days and 200 villages. That's Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, the largest art festival in the world in Niigata, Japan.
Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale is one of the largest art festivals in the world and is held once every three years in the Echigo-Tsumari region since 2000. Highlights of artworks are representing creative approaches and techniques as well as devices to appreciate those that have been cultivated by people over generations. This constitutes an alternative "art" for the 21th century, going beyond existing definitions of art.
Event has been described as unique in its quality and scale by media abroad and highly regarded as a new model of art festival. Community building through art has drawn attention as the "Tsumari Approach" and it has been referred to by curators and people in the art industry in the US, Europe and Asia as well as by delegation of local governments, international conferences and symposium.
Echigo-Tsumari is known for heavy snowfall in winter. This motivates cultural exchanges based upon the principle captured by the Japanese expression "seikô udoku; kakô tôdoku", which can be rendered in English as "In summer, cultivate the fields; in winter, cultivate the mind." In viewing the artworks, the visitor passes through terraced rice fields and forests of native beech, encountering festivals and traditional customs, thereby experiencing the landscapes and cultures of Echigo-Tsumari through all five senses. "Through this experience, we recover the memories of an origin that we had forgotten, and develop new links connecting people to each other and to the land", the organisators said.