When I heard the theme of "humor" for the first time, I decided to search for laughter by walking around the five great continents, and went to Shenzhen, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Mexico, but it was more difficult than I had anticipated. I realized it would take me thirty years.

Sitting on my desk, there is a decorative, life-sized mask of a goddess from the Jomon era I came across during a visit to the town of Chino in the Yatsugatake Mountains with Issey Miyake and Taku Satoh in the autumn of 2017. The face of the mask is triangular. Every day I see it, I laugh. It's odd thinking about what it was like 10,000 years ago, but laughter has continued all this time.

I want the exhibition to be cluttered everywhere across space and time. This thing and that thing will be switched and swapped. After returning from my journey in Mexico, I picked up a copy of "Tres de cuatro soles" (translated by Shizue Kishimoto, Shinchosya, 1979) by Nobel Prize laureate M. A. Asturias. As I started to read, it said,
"There was a war of kin on kin as far as I could see. Chairs clashed against chairs, knives against knives, forks against forks, spoons against spoons, saucers against saucers, plates against plates, glasses against glasses, cups against cups, napkins against napkins, toothpicks against toothpicks, ashtrays against ashtrays, fruit in a still life against actual fruit, actual fruit against wax fruit, sets of dishes for seafood with small knives and forks against sets of large dishes for seafood, bottles against bottles, pitchers against pitchers, quietly, without any noise at all, silently, silently, a crazed, deadly battle raged."
The surrealistic imagery continues until the end. I thought, "This might be what exhibition space will look like."

A lacquered map of the world came out of an art storehouse on Harumi Wharf. The world moves because of its countries. As an explorer of remote regions of the world, I, Katsumi Asaba, gathered the things I saw or picked up in my travels, and put them alongside the things I surround myself with.

And so one item reverberates off of another (perhaps in a cacophony), and with mystery beyond the reach of time, space, words, or reason, an incomprehensible, but pleasant something is born.

Where does a laugh come from? What is the essence of humor? Sometimes one laughs alone (perhaps at private jokes, or something darkly amusing). However, people also laugh as a sign of shared fun. The sense of humor changes depending on time, country, and culture, but could there be a form of laughter that transcends all barriers?

I want to gather every possible source of humor from across the planet. The means of expression may differ, from soft smiles to loud chuckling, howls of laughter, bursting guffaws, derisive snickers, flirtatious giggling, cynical smirks, and grins both honest and wry. I want to pick each one of them up and put them in the same place.

1: Humor soothes the spirit.
2: Humor stirs the forlorn soul.
While the nature of humor is rather complex, I would like you to keep these two points in mind.

Humor is the heart of communication.

Katsumi Asaba


Katsumi Asaba

Born in 1940 in Yokohama. After studying at Kuwasawa Design School and Keinosuke Sato Typography Studio, and working for Light Publicity Co., Ltd., founded the Katsumi Asaba Design Studio in 1975. Designed numerous widely-acclaimed posters and commercials of major significance to Japan's advertising history. Established Tokyo Type Directors Club (Tokyo TDC) in 1987. Renowned works include the official poster for the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, Suntory "Yume Kaido", Seibu Department Stores "Oishii Seikatsu", Takeda Pharmaceutical "ALINAMIN A" and Misawa Homes "Misawa Design Bauhaus", etc. An expert in Dongba script, pictographic glyphs originating in China. Held a total of four solo exhibitions in 2015. Received the ADC Memorial Prize of Hiromu Hara two years running; in 2015 for "Asaba's Diary" and in 2016 for "Ba-ra-kei: Ordeal by Roses". Received numerous other awards, including the Mainichi Design Award, Japan Academy Prize, Grand Prix by the Tokyo Art Directors Club (twice), ADC Memorial Prize of Hiromu Hara (three times), Medal with Purple Ribbon from the Government of Japan, The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette and the Yusaku Kamekura Design Award. Committee member of the Tokyo Art Directors Club, chairman of the Tokyo Type Directors Club, president of Japan Graphic Design Association, representative of Japan to the Alliance Graphique Internationale, visiting professor at Tokyo Zokei University, Kyoto Seika University and Aomori University, Tenth President of Kuwasawa Design School. Ranked at sixth level in table tennis.