Saturday, 25 July 2015

Indefinable Cities → Japan : Day 11

Komyoji-kaikan - the venue for the fourth instalment of Indefinable Cities → Japan. Literally translates as Bright Temple Meeting Place - the temple bit refers to the Komyo-ji which the gallery building sits right next to. To the left and behind the two storey building are archaic graveyards, which only serve to highlight the energy and collective spirit that is evident in the atmosphere in Komyoji-kaikan.

This artist-run space, which offers several exhibition, open studio and residency strands, is presenting OC: Dogs in a Room, part of its continuing residency programme Only Connect - directors Yutaka Inagawa, Mouhitori (Tamaki Ono & Kiyohito Mikami), Hitomi Kanemoto.

Their press release for the 9-artist group show reads:

OC: Dogs in a Room, the inaugural exhibition of an exhibition series taking place in cities around the globe over the course of the next five years. Each exhibition is a survey of artistic cultural differences and potential conflict and integration within the era of multiculturalism. The shows will explore how pluralism can be expressed in contemporary art practice and how this may be read in a variety of contexts.
The central focus of OC:Dogs in a Room is to examine the boundaries between individual art works, artists and spatial or architectural elements within the form of an exhibition. In OC: Dogs in a Room, the relationship between each artist and the control they have over their art’s experience by the viewer will be on the brink of collapse.
The exhibition will aim to create a situation in which turmoil rules and to undermine traditional concepts of individual or communal displays of artwork. Among the artworks, the viewer will encounter quadruped objects created from abandoned furniture and construction materials excavated from the derelict houses on the hillsides of Onomichi. Large wheels will give these creatures the mobility to patrol the space, resembling the wild dogs which prowl the surrounding countryside. Nine artists have been invited to interact with this four-legged furniture and the venue’s history and structure.
The magnified disharmony of the environment is designed to both perplex and challenge viewers and artists, leading to new possibilities in the reading and experience of the work. The overall effect should be mysterious and chaotic; drawing visitors on a disorientating journey which leads them to question how they should interact with the artwork and to what extent creation relies on individualism to enforce its identity.


It was a full-on install and watching, there was a palpable sense of collective endeavour - it's a hard thing to collaborate to an extent that, with several of the pieces on display, individual artworks appear to be shared, changed and added to by one or more artists - for the benefit of the exhibition as a whole -  it requires a level of trust and openness that comes from knowing each other really well. The collective characteristic of this exhibition, which also shows singular pieces from artists outside the group - is mirrored in the way the group seems to operate throughout the organisation - a shared set of responsibilities and commitments.

By the end of a long hot day - signs of the day's toil were beginning to show.

Of the three "traditional" gallery spaces we've visited so far, (Atelier Sangatsu, Art Takahashi and K-k, each has committed to showing works by the gallery owners/directors - a sort of studio-as-gallery - something which AirSpace intentionally avoids - we have a certain separation between our studio group and gallery activity which is designed to encourage a constant revolving of new artists and ideas into the space which hopefully broadens the experience for both public and studio group. However, it seems that the balance achieved by Komyoji-kaikan and its outward looking AIR and Only Connect exhibition and residency strands is the closest of the three to the artist-led activity in the UK.
For more info on Komyoji-kaikan visit their blog

In a separate adjoining room upstairs, Emily Speed's Groviglio/Tangle was installed largely without fuss  - we needed to iron out a few creases from its vacuum packed journey over here and sort some positioning issues - and the personal and intimate architectural themes in her work resonate and contrast simultaneously with the chaotic architecture in the group show next door. By the end of the day both rooms works were 99% installed - with just a few tweaks left for today ahead of opening on Saturday.


Tomorrow there will be fireworks - Sponsored every summer by the Sumiyoshi Shrine, the Onomichi Sumiyoshi Fireworks Festival - a popular festival, drawing a crowd of up to 350,000 people - features the fireworks of the Hamadonya Group, which was established during the late Edo Era (early 19th century.) In 1741, the recently appointed magistrate of Onomichi, Hirayama Kakuzaemon Naozumi, moved Sumiyoshi Shrine from the Jodoji Temple to Sumiyoshihama on the waterfront protect the port from misfortune. The festival is held in order to wish for the prosperity of business and the safety of sea traffic. There is a colorful parade of boats and the air over the Onomichi Channel is filled with thousands of fireworks.

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