ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, 09|17|2011 – 02|05|2012
Tsuyoshi Ozawa
* 1965 in Tokyo (JP), lives and works in Tokyo

Museum of Soy Sauce, 1998–2000

The invention of the museum is intimately connected with the concept of tradition. The objects that a museum gathers together are supposed to stand representatively for an era or the cultural identity of a region – they result in a picture of history, which appears immovable, exclusive, and valuable. Therefore, one could say that the museum itself is a place where tradition is not only kept, but is also constructed – therefore invented – as a completed and consistent story.
In his work Museum of Soy Sauce, Tsuyoshi Ozawa plays with the museum as a factory of the fictitious. In several small rooms, sorted by epochs and genres, products of art and culture are presented, which follow the obscure tradition of soy sauce painting – from its archaic beginnings up to the present. As the director of this “museum,” Tsuyoshi Ozawa sees it as his responsibility to preserve and communicate this often “forgotten” genre of art: both as an explicitly Japanese cultural artifact and as a part of Asian history and world culture in general. The Museum of Soy Sauce takes a humorous look at the often naive and sometimes grim determination of museums to assign cultural products a rightful place in the art historical canon. Ozawa’s work confronts us with the question as to the ways in which we recognize paintings and other things as historical objects – and why we let museums tell us stories and history. (JB)



Museum of Soy Sauce
, 1998–2000