Mono-ha By Clarke, Neilton
Mono-ha refers to a unique art movement, its artists active in Japan most visibly from 1968 to 1975. Translating as the school of things, these artists brought “things” [mono]—earth, wood, metal, glass, cotton, stone, paper and the like—together, usually with minimal artistic intervention and in an essentially unaltered state. Following a reductive logic, arrangement was integral to Mono-ha activity, which posited the artist as a coordinator attempting to bring about new perceptions of matter, materials, and the spatial relationships between them. Centered around approximately ten young artists, whose outcomes were frequently sculptural and site-specific, the emergence of Mono-ha is usually thought to have coincided with the creation of Phase—Mother Earth in Suma Rikyu Park, Kobe by Tama Art University or 'Tamabi’ graduate Nobuo Sekine (b.1942--), as part of the first Open Air Contemporary Sculpture Exhibition in October, 1968. It comprised a cylinder-shaped hole dug in the ground, 2.2 metres wide and 2.7 metres deep, beside which stood a tower of the hole’s excavated earth, compacted into the same cylindrical shape and mirroring the void from where it came. Later recalling it, Sekine remarked on being mesmerized by the sheer physicality of what stood before him upon its completion.