Satoshi Hashimoto is currently one of Japan’s most ‘alarming’ artists, producing works of art that make the viewer feel like someone witnessing a traffic accident. By somehow “questioning your stance”, “ignoring you”, “making a contract with you” or “transferring ownership to you”, they transcend social laws and morality and turn you into a participant, not just an observer.
The current exhibition Nation, Dice, Instruction, includes Each Country Was Moved to the Next (2011-2013), a map in which all the world’s countries and territories are shifted by one position, in line with the concept, purchased from an anonymous third party, of “shifting everything one place”. Photograph by Photographer (Art Market, Photographer): Bodybuilder (2014) is an image of a heavyweight bodybuilder taking photos of an art fair, including a mirror in which he himself is reflected. The show includes other works such as Dice of the Flag and One in three people is Chinese or Indian.
Every work has strong links to the ‘Nation’, ‘Dice’ and ‘Instruction’ of the title. For example, in Each Country Was Moved to the Next, the portrayal of the relationship between a country and its territory by moving the country next door is related to ‘Nation’, following the concept of an ‘anonymous third party’ is related to ‘Instruction’, and using a die to decide the new location is related to ‘Dice’.
Nation, Dice, Instruction, effectively conveys the meaning of Hashimoto’s activities, if each element of the title is taken as a symbol. “Instruction” symbolises an exchange of demands with others, including viewers, ‘Nation’ is a symbol of the political nature of that interaction, and ‘Dice’ is a symbol of the uncertain nature of the exchange.