What is AQUART?



 AQUART, a coined term from ‘aqua’ and ‘art,’ is the name of the group organizing exhibitions and managing programs near and under the sea.  These activities themselves are also called AQUART.  The artists place and exhibit their shaped articles in the sea.  People appreciate the works in water diving or swimming.  The exhibition can be also enjoyed from the boats.  On the nearby islands, there are workshops and some other events held by AQUART, too.  Children are always invited to AQUART exhibitions and workshops and play an important role there. Through those art activities, AQUART is striving to combine marine environment and human creativity.




Where dose AQUART act?




 The activities of AQUART are mainly based in Setouchi-cho of Amami Islands,   which is located 400 km south of Kagoshima Prefecture.  Setouchi-cho area is a small township with a population of 10,000 made up of three islands with deeply-indented coastlines.  Most of the hamlets lie in the coastal areas.  700 meters away from those hamlets, the exhibitions are held in the sea about 8 meters deep.  The spot has some unique features.  The sea water is clear above white sanded bottom.    Located between the islands, the area is not influenced by big waves but by big change of tidal level, which replaces large amount of seawater there.  Those features make the spot attractive to the AQUART artists.




What are the natural conditions like?




 The exhibitions under the sea are exposed to far more severe environment than that on land.  The change of weather conditions on land such as wind and rain has a great influence even though they are under the same atmospheric pressure.  Under water, however, the change of conditions affects you much more.  When the temperature changes by one degree in water, you will feel it much bigger than that on land.  Tidal current adds more difficulty to the work under water.  Slightest current will make you stumble.  At the spot of the exhibition, there run two tidal currents a day between high and low tide, making the condition very different.

   One of the biggest differences of condition to exhibit art works is caused by buoyancy force.  The buoyancy is different from thing to thing according to their specific gravity. 

Water pressure also changes according to the depth.  The pressure under the water 10 meters deep is twice as big as that on land.  A 500-ml plastic bottle will get half the size there. 

In addition, underwater transparency is different depending on the spot and its circumstances.  The hue changes more extremely under the water: red end of the spectrum fades into purple.  You don’t see red color under water.  Metallic materials corrode due to difference of electrical potential in seawater.  The artists of AQUART have been struggling with these difficulties to organize the underwater exhibitions.




Why are the exhibition held under the sea?



   The exhibition under the sea is a completely new style to share art.  Giving such an extraordinary experience, the exhibition has been providing people with another view toward everyday life and the world.  They might get aware that the sea, land, mountains and people are closely linked together in water cycle.  To propose such new and wider perspective is what AQUART is all about.




What is important to AQUART?




  AQUART put an importance on art, the local community and the environment surrounding it.  In a close relationship with local people, AQUART has been organizing exhibitions and workshops to search for the answer to the question: how to protect this beautiful sea.  Some artists have been working on restoring coral reef.  They set pieces of broken coral in their shaped articles and have found the coral growing 10 cm in the past two years.  The art works have become the home of soft coral and algae.  

AQUART wants people to appreciate the art works not with the knowledge but through physical experience on the spot in the local area, swimming in beautiful blue and salty water while tired, cold, but curious.  We want them to feel art through the senses, through the body.   We want them to see their everyday life from under the sea, which will give them a new light to their views.   To get people aware of the beauty of nature and world and the power of art, the members of AQUART are working in cooperation with the local people.  AQUART believes that art is for creating a new idea and for rediscovering neglected value.





Shirow Tajima