Friday, 31 July 2015

Indefinable Cities → Japan : Day 13

After the install and opening of Emily Speed's "Groviglio/Tangle" at Komyoji-Kaikan, and that Gallery's Only Connect group exhibition, "Dogs in a Room", came the artists' talk on Sunday evening.

The Only Connect residency strand is committed to attracting, and opening out via engaged discussion, artists and ideas from beyond its immediate region - with a particular emphasis on international artists.

So my job, along with Koh Yoshida, on the evening was to represent the works of Emily Speed, and talk about Indefinable cities. Additionally, they asked me to give a presentation on AirSpace Gallery.

It was a good turnout - a mix of gallery directors and associates, and students, along with some members of the public. Tamaki, from Komyoji-Kaikan and Yutaka from Only Connect (both of whom teach art at Onomichi City University) told me that there is a real commitment to these talks. The art course at the university is a very traditional one - run conservatively by the course developer, the emphasis is on classical training - life drawing etc - and so the works at this gallery, and first hand discussions around them, offers the students an alternative view of the contemporary artworld.

On a hot and steamy evening, I was surprised to learn that 4 hours was put aside for the talk - much much longer than we would allot in the most cases in the UK, but I was assured by the hosts that this was normal for them - they enjoyed the chance to really delve into the issues. The evening started with a talk about the group show, as Mourhitori duo Kiyohito Mikami and Tamaki Uno and Only Connect director Yutaka Inagawa set out the thinking behind their show "Dogs in a Room". Four of the shows artists, talked briefly about their works and involvement.

Following this, there were some set questions for Koh and I, about what brought us to Onomichi, what we found interesting about the city, our inspirations as artists and future plans etc. After this, Koh explained the background to Tsukiyo to Syonen and how the Indefinable Cities project came about.

And finally, while dinner was being served and eaten, I told the group about Airspace Gallery from inception to present day - with the interpretive help of Yutaka. There was interest in the shortness of our residency offers, which in comparison to the two years offered by Only Connect, seemed a little brief to them - and there was also surprise when I told them that the artists received a fee for their residencies. The group also found some common interest in our commitment to working in the community, for the well-being of the city. As the talk moved in to its fifth hour, due in part to the need for regular translations, and beyond midnight - there wasn't too much time to find out how Komyoji supports itself and its programme, though I did get the sense that they have a little funding from the City and they get involved with an annual country-wide arts festival.


From Onomichi, we head back to base in Ashiya City ,for a short hiatus - a few days to regroup, created by the absence in the programme of soon-to-be father Daiki Murakami, from where it's on to the Alpine valley city of Kofu, and the final exhibition - Ayaka Nishi's "Measuring Memory" at South Patagonia Cafe.

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