18/01/2017

Åbning af "Japanomania in the North"

Kultuminister Mette Bocks tale ved åbningen af udstillingen "Japanomania in the North" på SMK.

(det talte ord gælder - check against delivery)

Your Royal Highness, your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

It is a great pleasure and privilege for me to speak to you today, as we celebrate the opening of the 150 year anniversary of diplomatic relations between Denmark and Japan.

It is a celebration which marks a relationship that is still very much alive and vibrating.

And I am sure that the festive year ahead will let us all both feel and hear the constant vibrations.

They will be sent out from the great number of cultural exchanges taking place - whether in the form of manga workshops, jazz concerts, ceramic and design exhibitions, architectural talks or artists-in-residency programmes in both Denmark and Japan.

All of them build on tradition and lead the way to innovation - two central aspects in both our countries and key themes for the year of celebration.

But before we jump to the future and all it has to offer, let us return to eighteen-sixty-seven (1867) with the signing of the treaty between Denmark and Japan.

It was a time when the first globalization period was slowly awakening.

A time where cultural and economic progress flourished. A time which should inspire the way we view globalization today.

Globalization creates mutual understanding for who we are, and where we come from.

Globalization is something to be added not subtracted.

The world acclaimed Japanese writer, Haruki Murakami, was awarded the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen prize in Odense just a few months ago.

He is a good example of how we can all relate to the same stories.

Through art, we can obtain different perspectives on common human themes.

The variations in form are endless, but the themes are often the same: love, loss, duty, passion, family.

With the signing of the treaty a foundation was laid for a relationship, which from the beginning has been characterized by mutual admiration and fascination.

One example is the Danish telegrapher William Bramsen.

He worked in Nagasaki in the eighteen-seventies and became fascinated by the people he met and culture he encountered.

He even wrote books about Japanese coins and other Japanese cultural objects. He has since been described as the first Danish japanologist.

The new and exciting cultural expressions coming from Japan at the time also awoke the curiosity of many Danish artists.

The painter Vilhelm Hammershøi creates an intense and intimate atmosphere by focusing on a few details in his paintings.

A style that is also to be found in the work of the Japanese artist Hokusai.

The ceramicist and designer Thorvald Bindesbøll was also strongly influenced by Japanese arts and crafts.

For example he used motifs from Samurai swords as inspiration for Art Nouveau brooches.

These and many, many more Danish artists, painters, architects and designers through the years owe much to Japanese aesthetics.

So what better way to mark the occasion today than with the opening of this splendid exhibition, Japanomania in the North?

I was lucky to have a sneak peak earlier today, and I can tell you, that you have treat in store.

As part of the exhibition, the National Gallery has included the original treaty, which was signed in eighteen-sixty-seven.

Apart from being a unique historical document, this addition is also testament to the fact that cultural exchange often takes place within a political framework.

But to make the most out of relationships across borders, one should link cultural, political, and economic openness and understanding with each other.

Just like a haiku poem where different spheres melt together and create something new, but suddenly evident and natural.

I will personally be handing over a new and beautifully manufactured copy of the treaty to the Japanese Government in a little less than a month’s time.

The original Japanese copy was unfortunately lost in a fire in Tokyo after the great earthquake in nineteen-twenty-three.

So being able to return a copy of this valuable document will be an honour for me, as it also cements the foundation that our mutual relationship has been built on.

I find it important not just to mark this anniversary with the past in mind.

We must ensure that we also continue to build a bridge to the future.

The cultural events and mutual exchanges, which have been lined up for the coming year, present not only first rank quality arts and culture both in Denmark and Japan.

They just as importantly have the perspective of building relationships for today and tomorrow.

When I see my grandchildren playing Pokémon Go whilst eating their favorite meal - sushi - I think the potential is there.

Japan and Japanese culture are already part of their world, which leads to the future.

The gateway is open – much is possible.

I hope this year of celebration will open all of our worlds, as we continue to inspire each other and develop together.

Building upon the solid foundation securely laid one-hundred and fifty years ago.

Thank you.