Shut in, but still reaching out

Shut in, but still reaching out

RARELY venturing from their bedrooms, hikikomori are Japanese "shut-ins" who suffer social phobia. Estimated at about 700,000, the hikikomori mostly male are unable to cope with Japan's education and employment pressures. Supported by parents, they exist on anime, manga, video games and chat rooms. Eugenia Lim's Dianne Tanzer Gallery exhibition, Oasis, uses video, installation and lightboxes to explore the phenomenon.

Laughter and sobriety

ARE art critics yet to get the joke? Jennifer Higgie, one of the VCA School of Art's most illustrious graduates, gives a public lecture asking "What's So Funny?" at the school's Federation Hall tomorrow at 6pm. Higgie is co-editor of British art magazine frieze, a novelist, screenwriter and editor of the anthology The Artist's Joke. "It's as impossible (or unbearable)," she says, "to imagine a life and by association, art without laughter as it is to imagine a life without air . . . [so] why haven't jokes, humour, wordplay and satire in the art of the last century been taken seriously?"

Artist breathes easier after $25,000 win

ANNE Judell has won the nation's top drawing gong, the Dobell Prize, ahead of a record 730 entries. The artist won the $25,000 prize for her work Breath (pictured above), an abstract triptych in pastel. Presenting the award at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the judge, the distinguished nonagenarian artist Guy Warren, said that although there were many commendable works Judell's was notable for the soft voice in which it demanded attention: "With dense layers and subtle surfaces it talks of the mystery of growth, of essences and fragility, of quiet contemplation."

Art books find space

NEED to impress a visiting art doyen? World Food Books stocks a selected collection of international and Australian publications on art, fashion, critical theory and culture. They are only open on Fridays, from noon. Originally established at the now-concluded artist-run gallery Y3K, and then wandering in a series of pop-up incarnations, World Food Books no, there are no cookbooks to be found have recently settled in their new permanent quarters. From Monday to Thursday the space serves as an office for its proprietors, artists Josh Petherick and Matt Hinkley.

Heading out into the blue

IF YOU haven't seen the current exhibitions at the Centre for Contemporary Photography you have until Sunday. From Monday the gallery will be closed for summer, but the centre is leaving us a tropical video in its night-time window. John Howland and Anna-Maria O'Keeffe's work Studies in Rising and Falling Kiribati (pictured) depicts aspects of traditional life as a comment on the effects of climate change and rising sea levels. Footage shows fishermen "free" diving to eel traps images of freshwater wells were captured using fishing line and scaffolding made from local materials.

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