Erstellt am: 25. 1. 2013 - 18:12 Uhr
Manga at the MAK
Reality Check's Steve Crilley sat down with curator Dr. Johannes Wieninger and posed a few questions about their current manga exhibition: Nippon Chinbotsu. Japan sinkt.
Steve Crilley: Why take manga, something often perceived as trash teen culture, and bring it to the MAK?
Johannes Wieninger: That’s easy, Japanese art objects that came to Europe about 100 years ago were of this trash culture. So manga are books typical of this Edo-Culture. And I believe that the manga of today is very close to the problems of people, continuing this culture of the 19th Century.
What does the title Nippon Chinbotsu mean?
Nippon Chinbotsu means Japan sinks. The idea comes from the fact of Japan situated on three edges of tectonic plates. And that Japan goes under one of these large plates. But the other idea is: what do you do now as millions of people have lost their homes? In other historical stories (in other genre), there tends to be a paradise (to strive for) where you will be safe. In this case, no paradise exists anymore. There’s no chance to be saved.
Tokihiko Ishiki put the exhibition together, you call him a Manga-Ka. What is a Manga-Ka?
Manga-Ka means graphic designer of manga. He sketches the story and designs the pages. And there’s not a clear way to becoming a Manga-Ka. You start drawing when you are at school, you take part in a manga competition organized by the main editors, then if you are lucky and if you are good, you will make your way. The other possibility is the independent manga society in Japan is also very big. Every year there is an extensive manga convention in Tokyo with thousands coming to the convention halls. And (manga artists) publish manga on a private basis in the hope of being discovered through this large manga convention.
What can people see if they come to the manga exhibition here at the MAK?
The first idea of the exhibition is how to make a manga. So that people living in Europe and with no direct contact with Japan can see how a manga is put together from the first idea, from talks with the editor to the final sketches, drawings and printing. And then, (our Manga-Ka here) Tokihiko Ishiki wanted to have blown-ups of his mangas, and so I thought first-up we would make a wall (of these blow-ups) of about 15m x 3m. But after talks with our designer we now have walls (of manga pictures) 5 metres high and it goes on for about 150m. And we are all very astonished how these small drawings don’t lose their quality if you blow them up.
And what’s the advantage of seeing manga pictures blown up this big?
We want it as if visitors walk into a book and walk within these drawings which are very dynamic (and very tactile). So it is as if you are standing in the book, in the stories (which are of) earthquakes, floods and tsunamis and fear and refugee camps. So I want people to feel this big tragedy.
The other thing you learn here is, how intricate it is to make a manga story.
Yes, Tokihiko Ishiki worked for more than three years and every week he had to complete 20 pages. This is really time consuming and hard work for him and his assistants.
Personally, what does manga mean to you?
I am no manga fan. But that is good because it means I have a little distance and I feel I can evaluate whether it is a good manga or not. I’m not addicted and I am not consuming manga. My job as curator is to select manga which can touch you as a visitor. This is the same relation with (for example) ink painting or ceramics. You must have a little distance and then you have a better overview.
Has your love of manga grown since you’ve brought this exhibition to Vienna?
I like this manga very much. Generally, I cannot say that I like manga. Are you shocked?
It takes a lot to shock me!
© MAK/Katrin Wißkirchen
More in our Saturday Reality Check Special
Hear more about this exhibition in our Saturday Reality Special: The Fascinating World of Manga: broadcast on Saturday 26th January, at 12 midday.
Or you can download this programme as a podcast here.