Artistic and digital legacy of Olympic Agora Tokyo 2020 lives on

One month after the closing of the Olympic Agora at Tokyo 2020, Japanese artist Makoto Tojiki says it was “an opportunity of a lifetime to be able to contribute to the Olympic Games in [his] home country”. 

Makoto Tojiki © IOC

Tojiki, one of three internationally-renowned headlining artists at the Olympic Agora Tokyo 2020, created a grand, illuminated sculpture entitled “Solidarity and Collaboration” for the cultural hub in the heart of the host city.

Situated at Fukutoku Plaza in Tokyo’s central Nihonbashi district, Tojiki’s nearly five-metre-tall light sculpture drew immense attention from local residents, global media and digital audiences alike, enchanting passers-by with its nocturnal glow and generating 26 per cent of all online talk about the cultural programme.

While the onsite Olympic Agora closed on 15 August, the legacy created by Tojiki and the other participating artists lives on.

“Even after the exhibition closed, I could see the images being shared a lot on social media. This was certainly the installation that garnered the most attention in my career,” said Tojiki. “It was an opportunity of a lifetime to be able to contribute to the Olympic Games in my home country.”

“Solidarity and Collaboration” is the largest installation that this former industrial designer has ever created. Makoto Tojiki was born in Miyazaki, Japan, in 1975, and transitioned from product design to being a full-time artist in 2003, experimenting with artistic images of objects constructed from light. His work is inspired by the interconnectedness of light and shadow, and how these can be manipulated  and controlled.

“Solidarity and Collaboration” took inspiration from the 4x100 relay race in athletics. Prompted by the global pandemic, the installation, conceived especially for the Olympic Agora, featured two monumental steel mesh figures in relay motion, in a timely exploration of collaboration, shared responsibility and human potential in team play.

“In a world where people and society keep running, the COVID-19 pandemic unexpectedly put the brakes on them. I believe it is the role and power of art to imagine the future,” the artist said about the work.

“The passing of the baton in competition was a good way to convey the importance of inheritance. I felt that the 4x100 relay was particularly symbolic. The handing-over of the baton also symbolises overcoming difficulties and moving forward. That’s the kind of meaning I wanted to put into the work.”

Olympic Agora © IOC

Drawing parallels between sport and art, Tojiki added: “It’s easy to see that sport is an attempt to surpass physical limits, but culture and art are also attempts to go as far beyond human limitation as possible. In that sense, sport and art are similar.”

Tojiki’s awe-inspiring installation can still be viewed through the virtual tours on the Olympic Agora website, which will remain accessible until 15 October.

The first-ever Olympic Agora at Tokyo 2020 aimed to further blend sport and culture by entwining the Games’ storied history with a stunning display of visual art installations and exhibitions. Spearheaded by the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage (OFCH), it showcased four major installations, along with work from a range of artists and studios, including a permanent legacy sculpture from French artist Xavier Veilhan,  and a group exhibition of works from six Olympian and Paralympian artists in residence.

While details are yet to be confirmed, some components of the Olympic Agora programme will make an appearance at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.


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