March 17 – July 29, 2023
Discover the world of bento boxes with OH!Bento, an exhibition that celebrates this universally loved aspect of Japan’s rich food culture. Featuring the works of three Japanese artists, OH!Bento seeks to unveil the entire bento experience, from the careful preparation of this portable packed lunchbox to its completion and eventual consumption. Through this process, bento has the power to strengthen human relationships, like a gift that contains a story connecting the preparer and the eater.
From traditional magewappa (bent wooden containers) to elegant shо̄kadо̄ (lacquered lunch boxes), bento boxes come in all shapes and sizes. Since their practical origins as a means of transporting food, bento boxes have evolved to become the symbol of a traditional culture of sharing in Japan. OH!Bento showcases how the simple yet meaningful practice of giving a bento can act as an unspoken channel for the creation of deep human connections.
Featuring a selection of photographs, illustrations and video works, this exhibition encourages viewers to think outside the box when it comes to bento, and consider how feelings of affection make this seemingly everyday item something to be cherished. Included in the exhibition are works by photographer Satoru Abe, artist Toru Koyamada and designer Hiraku Ogura, along with a variety of bento boxes provided by Katachiware on display. The exhibition also includes an interactive workspace where visitors will have the chance to design their very own bento box and display them within the gallery.
OH!Bento will be held at The Japan Foundation Gallery from March 17 to July 29, 2023.
An event program accompanying the exhibition will be announced at a later date.
Born in Tokyo in 1963, Satoru Abe spent four years aboard the weather ship Keifu Maru as an engineer after graduating from the National Tateyama Maritime Polytechnical School. Later on, Abe discovered photography while traveling through Europe on the Trans-Siberian Railway Network. He studied photography at Tokyo Polytechnic University, and after working as an assistant to photographer Yoshihiro Tachiki, Abe became a freelance photographer in 1995. His works include Square Universe, in which he photographed friends in their rooms. From 2011 he also appeared on the NHK television series Sarameshi (Lunch ON!) as a bento box hunter. Abe is also the author of Obentо̄ no Jikan (Lunchtime), a series of four volumes that has been published in Taiwan, France, South Korea and China. Other works of his include Hiruke (Lunchtime) and Tokyo Shopkeeper Couples.
Born in 1961, Toru Koyamada helped form the performance group Dumb Type while studying at Kyoto City University of Arts. Since 1998, he has mainly been engaged in the development of numerous share spaces.
In recent years, he has been experimenting with the creation of spaces that have bonfires at their core. He’s the father of three children and is a professor at Kyoto City University of Arts.
Hiraku Ogura is a fermentation designer, and through his work, he aims to make the ‘invisible work of fermentation microorganisms visible through design’. After studying zymology as a research student at the Tokyo University of Agriculture, he developed a project on fermentation and microorganisms with brewers and researchers from all over Japan. In 2014, he won the Good Design Award for his animation Temae Miso No Uta. He is also the author of books including Fermental Cultural Anthropology and Fermentation Tourism Nippon. Currently, Ogura is developing the Fermentation Tourism Exhibition at various museums such as d47 Museum in Shibuya Hikarie and Kanaz Forest of Creation in Fukui Prefecture.
March 17, 2023 (Friday)
Opening address at 6:30pm
Bookings not required
Closed Sundays and public holidays
The Japan Foundation, Sydney
Level 4, Central Park
28 Broadway, Chippendale NSW 2008
(02) 8239 0055
Header image: Hiraku Ogura, OBENTO DAYS, 2018