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One Dreams of Goldfish, Japan

Hidetomo-Kimura-2 Hidetomo-Kimura-goldfish Hidetomo-Kimura-5art-aquarium-exhibition-5-580x384There are places where any dream, no matter how subversive or pointless, can be brought to life in plastic, neon and wax and if you’ve enough money, in the flesh.

This art aquarium produced by artist Hidetomo Kimura in 2012 is a collection of decorative bowls and tanks that contain over 5,000 live goldfish. Goldfish of course are an integral part of Persian New year as well as a symbol for summer in Japan. So were the fish captured in the wild or bred? Who knows, animal welfare not normally being part of the discussion around arts and entertainment in Japan.

Tanks of various shapes and sizes were displayed at Nihonbashi Mitsui Hall, Japan, the most impressive of which was the centre-piece ‘Oiran’, which alone holds 1,000 goldfish, plus the 8-meter long “Four Seasons Aquarium” and the rectangular kaleidoscopic “Kaleidorium”.  Visitors had to pay 1,000 yen (£7) to witness this ostentatious display of fish decorating water, and walked around no doubt thinking about the overcrowding in their own cities and perhaps even the brevity of their own human life span while contemplating fish flitting around these clinically clear bowls. Most likely though, visitors thought of none of this, but walked about trying to forget their lot and feeling a whole yard better after the show.

The show drew on elements of the traditional Japanese garden and the ancient Chinese practice of Feng Shui by placing wind chimes and water elements around the venue. One thinks of the macabre ‘prizes’ on offer at summer fairs around the UK involving drugged-up goldfish with payees scooping their victims into clear-plastic bags and taking them home. But even this cruel sport is dying out. For man-made goldfish created using crafts techniques see Riusuke Fukahori.

Previously it was widely accepted that fish had a seconds-long memory, but recent developments show this to be untrue. How many other mistakes have we been making about animals over the years and do they dream of revenge.

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