Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Indefinable Cities → Japan : Day 8

New Day New Install for Indefinable Cities in Japan - our circus has moved on to the Port Town of Uno in Okayama Prefecture. Uno is a famous town in Japan - a former shipbuilding town, now mainly the gateway to the two main southern Japanese Islands - Kyushu and Shikoku - from Honshu. And a bit of a holiday town, being in close proximity to Naoshima - an art island full of outdoor sculpture and a renowned modern art museum made for the island by the Bennesse Corporation and numbering works by Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly and David Hockney amongst its exhibits.

As with all Koh Yoshida's choices for locations and venues for the Indefinable Cities works and artists, Uno and the Higashyima building which is the host for Hirofumi Suzuki's Diary of a Stranger are really appropriate.

There is undoubtedly something of the "outsider" about Hirofumi Suzuki - a prolific, almost obsessive compulsive drawer of his everyday. And Higashiyama - a 4 storey, derelict building gradually being restored to a new glory is a fitting venue for "Diary of a Stranger".

Hirofumi works instinctively - his rough but intricate drawings take him about 30 minutes at most, and it was unsurprising that a similar instinctiveness fuelled the hanging of his works. He leafed through hundreds of possibilities, like a whirlwind, making quick decisions about what he wanted to show, and once decided, the hang continued in what at first glance seemed like an ad hoc manner, but a couple of hours later, demonstrated a constructed sense - and sensibility for both the building and the works.


Yogin Nishino - Higashiyama's manager told us that the building is owned by a local businessman - and there is a 6 year plan to transform the building, which had originally been a residential use for the port workers, into a guest house, with a cafe attached. In the time of the restoration, the owner has allowed Yogin to hire out the whole building for cultural use - music and art events in the main, often without, or for nominal charge. This handover of disused buildings in the private sector for cultural use is very rare in Japan - as in the UK - though apparently with the increasing aging of the landlord demographic here, this might be set to change, as landlords seek to attract more youthful use of their buildings in order to maintain the buildings' condition.

By the end of the day, over 180 drawings had been hung across 3 floors of Higayashima - leaving just a few more to add tomorrow ahead of an early evening opening.


The day ended with a nice group meal - gyozas all round plus some Jacob's ear mushrooms and Korean okonomiyaki.

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