KOSEI SASAKI 「Exhibition Total Affirmation : OK. Perfect. Yes.」
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NANAIRO CHANNEL is an associate project of 3331 Arts Chiyoda. It is a new enterprise initiated by local arts students to create a space of expression and exchange between young people studying the arts throughout the country. Based in the radio centre above the milieu of electronic parts stalls and beneath the railway line of Akihabara, NANA CHAN is taking on the challenge to connect the diverse practices of young creative practitioners through a dedicated media platform, utilizing the latest in personal broadcast and social media. Based upon the infrastructure of Ustream participants can broadcast their events, art production processes and presentations, to name but a few of the possibilities of such a facility, which provides not only the ability to document creative engagements but also the possibility of being employed as a form of artistic expression in itself.
I spoke with Nanaho Kanmuri, one of the leading members of the project, to learn more about this innovative bridging of individuals and institutions across different arts fields and different geographic regions of Japan.
What is NANAIRO Channel (NANA CHAN)?
NANA CHAN is a media centre providing a space for students to broadcast their range of expressions and ideas through various different media. NANAIRO means 7 colours in Japanese, a reference to the multicolours of the rainbow. This reflects 7ch's purpose to bring students of many different fields, with their own individual colour, together in collaboration, mixing together to form a brand new colour as it were.
How was NANA CHAN formed and why?
NANA CHAN was born from a frustration with the confines of engaging in expression limited to one's own department or own university, and aims to create an inter-disciplinary network which allows for new forms of expression on a much wider stage, overcoming this isolation of artistic practice and aspiring to instigate new discussion and collaboration.
How have you formed the network of NANA CHAN?
The network began through friends and through the use of Mixi, twitter, SKYPE, Ustream and other such online communication media we have expanded to include students all over the country.
How many members does NANA CHAN have?
There is a core team of 10 people working on NANA CHAN, but in terms of participation and contribution this number easily exceeds 100 at this time.
What is the vision of NANA CHAN?
Through building an inter-disciplinary network create the next generation of leaders for both the art scene and society.
We want to encourage a deeper connection between creative students which will carry on into their future careers, firstly in Japan but with the possibility to spread internationally.
How has NANA CHAN been used so far?
It has enabled participants to realize the events that they want to make, it has provided a space for presentation and for critical discussion, with many different approaches indicated by the students involved. The project launched in February of this year and we held a series of events marking this in March, to coincide with the opening of 3331 Arts Chiyoda. Throughout March NANA CHAN, in its satellite space of 3331, held exhibitions, performances and live programs, demonstrating the energy of arts students. There were original programs such as 'Akihabara Bento Boys', a cooking program lead by a group of male students, programs documenting the very process of creating art work, live dance, theatre and music performances and even an auction of artists' signatures (which could be bought for exchange of a personal item).
Your office space has a very distinctive interior architecture - formed of cardboard boxes - could you explain the relevance of these structures?
The cardboard box has become quite an emblem of NANA CHAN. We want to emphasise the migratory nature of the project, its constant movement in a relay between different participants. Cardboard boxes are used for moving things from one place to another, they indicate a transitory state which reflects the situation of NANA CHAN itself. Each box can be seen as an individual space, which can contain different forms of expression. We are utilizing these boxes as an exhibition space and archive of past events through the collection of items which act as relics of previous broadcasts. We also want to exchange these boxes with students participating in the project from different parts of the country, so that they can build a physical sense of connection, as well as their online connection.
What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of using media tools/the internet for communication?
Such tools have enabled a kind of communication that was not previously possible. We were particularly interested in using Ustream, for example, because of that sense of liveness, which we think is important in communication. Through these media we can connect with people all over the country (and even internationally) and receive direct feedback on our activities and begin to enter into discussion through the mediation of the internet. However we are also aware of the problematics involved in such a mediated engagement. In particular you have to be aware of the risks of publishing personal information in a public space. I personally feel that face to face communication is extremely important and that the internet can not replace this. We want to bring a balance between the physical and the virtual in a way. Therefore with many of our events there is an offline audience physically in the space, as well as the online audience. We also want to engage people into more direct exchange beyond the internet.
In the 80's Kogawa Tetsuo was pioneering the miniFM movement in Japan encouraging students and local groups to set up their own short-range radio broadcasts. There seems to be some correlation with your own activities. Have you been in contact with him at all?
We have not spoken to such a respected figure, but it would be interesting to know his perspective on our activities. There appears to be a kind of cycle which repeats itself in different forms over the decades, NANA CHAN is perhaps a modest interpretation of similar interests in community, network and open broadcast which Kogawa was dealing with at that time. There is now renewed interest in the practices of radio because of new convenient and cheap methods of broadcasting via the internet. NANA CHAN brings sound and image together, which is interesting, but also has many areas unexplored, and entails the instability of the actual media itself and a certain difficulties which come about due to unfamiliarity with the technology/program/website itself.
What kind of activity and exchange are you hoping to instigate from now?
With the opening events of March as a starting point, we aim to build upon these towards a wider approach assimilating many different fields and students from the various regions of Japan. We also think it important to take a wider grasp of media, which is not limited to twitter, skype and Ustream, but includes writing, radio, photography and other forms of communication.
How can people get involved?
We encourage any creative student who is interested in participating through their own broadcast to contact NANA CHAN at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will gladly schedule them in to the program.
NANA CHAN is planning more events for this month, so please stay tuned to www.nanachan.tv
Sasaki Kousei - Total Affirmation : OK.PERFECT.YES.
As the second part of a series of events and exhibitions celebrating the opening of the new arts centre 3331 Arts Chiyoda (launched on 14th March 2010 - Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo) we are pleased to announce an exhibition of work by Kosei Sasaki entitled Total Affirmation : OK.PERFECT.YES.
Kosei Sasaki is an artist who has developed an artistic philosophy through participation in the pioneering avant-garde movement of the 1960s "Jack No Kai" and later pursuing an engagement in counter culture in New York in the 1970's. On returning to Japan in the 1980's he severed his ties with the art world but in recent years has begun to paint again. Currently, in the studio he built himself in Akagisanroku, Gunma, Sasaki can be found vigorously wielding a brush.
This exhibition brings together 50 of Kosei Sasaki's giant abstract paintings to reveal the ideology of the affirmation "Ok. Perfect. Yes" and to bring to the fore an aspect of post-war art history which has until now been difficult to encounter. For Sasaki, who is 82 years old this year, this exhibition is a fresh debut, in which he presents new work for the first time in 40 years. We highly recommend such an opportunity to encounter his works.
Dates: 23rd April - 23rd May 2010
Opening hours: Monday-Wednesday 12:00-19:00 Friday-Sunday (as well as public holidays) 12:00-20:00 (admission until 30 mins before closing)
Closed on: Thursdays (except 29th April)
Venue: 3331 Arts chiyoda 1st Floor Exhibition Space
Admission: 800円 high school/university students 500円 junior high school students and below admission free
Organizer: Sasaki Kousei Comitee, NPO commandN
Co-orgaizer: 3331 Arts Chiyoda
Artist: Kosei Sasaki
Exhibition of Works
In all of his large scale works created since 2000 Sasaki demonstrates a force of colour. 50 of his paintings are exhibited here including some of his latest works.
Here you may experience the wild and daring works produced in Sasaki's new challenge towards painting.
Documents from the 1960's Jack No Kai activities and Yomiuri Independent exhibition etc.
This includes film taken by Sasaki when he moved to New York recording the condition of the streets and the loft where he lived. In addition recordings of Sasaki's recent creative production will also be shown. This documentary film is organized and edited by Kenkichi Hagiwara , a friend of Sasaki's since his time in New York.
Date: 23rd April 2010 18:00-
19:00- Artist Talk by Kosei Sasaki
Art Critics Yoshie Yoshida and Ren Fukuzumi will join Kosei Sasaki in an exchange which will investigate the concept of total affirmation and its background in the age of the avant garde. As witnesses to the art history of the Showa period the vivid discussions between Sasaki and Yoshida are eagerly anticipated.
Date: 3rd May 2010 (public holiday) 14:00-16:00
Kosei Sasaki x Yoshie Yoshida (art critic) x Ren Fukuzumi (art critic)
Kosei Sasaki Exhibition Catalogue
To accompany the opening of this exhibition a catalogue will be produced documenting in full colour the 50 paintings included in this exhibition along with 16 brand new works. The catalogue will also offer a substantial interview in which Sasaki reflects upon his life, the events and art movements of the era he has lived through, as well as a bibliographic chronology. Further more art critic Yoshie Yoshida will provide a renewed critique of Sasaki's work and activities along with insights by Jack No Kai collaborator and current animation art director Shichiro Kobayashi and the book's editor Ren Fukuzumi . The book will consist of 100 pages.
On Sale from: 3rd May 2010
Anticipated price: 1800円/excluding tax
Published by: 3331 Arts Chiyoda
Editor: Ren Fukuzumi
Editorial Assistant: Emi Sato
Design Direction: Naoki Sato (ASYL)
Event Report - Try out Kaekko and Discussion
Saturday 3rd April 2010
Artist: Hiroshi Fuji
Firstly you may ask what is Kaekko? Kaekko is many things to many people but fundamentally it is a method of exchange and communication between children by swapping their old unwanted toys for somebody else's. Based on an alternative currency, participants can earn points depending on the number and type of toys they bring to the Kaekko space and then they can use these points to buy other toys that they like. This activity was initiated by artist Hiroshi Fuji in Fukuoka in 2000 as a means engaging children in the neighbourhood in creative activity. Since its initiation this activity has spread throughout the country inspiring individuals and organizations to host their own interpretations of Kaekko.
Fuji has been commissioned by 3331 Arts Chiyoda to realize a Kaekko based project over a period of 5 years at the centre itself. In the foyer of 3331 "Kaeru Station" will be established as a permanent space for Kaekko activities, creating a point of contact for members of the local neighbourhood and developing dialogues between them. The Kaekko try out and discussion was designed to introduce the concept of Kaekko and to examine its future possibilities. Many children from the local area attended the event eagerly carrying their old toys for exchange and diving into the piles of Kaekko toys, rummaging for a new treasure. The discussion brought together university students, Kaekko volunteers, NPOs, events organizers, community project participants and other interested persons from not only Tokyo but also Ibaraki, Chiba and Yamanashi.
The discussion began with an introduction by Fuji as to the origins and development of Kaekko. When the project first started just a space was provided for people to exchange their toys, a free open space where participants were able to creatively experiment within their own structures. The space was intended to become a lived space part of everyday life and social engagement in the neighbourhood. An early example of the creation of such a space was established in a shopping street, consisting of mainly shuttered, disused stores. Fuji and a group of children worked together to clean and renew some of these spaces creating Kaekko shops in the area.
A permanent space which the participants can mould together has been of particular emphasis in Fuji's efforts to promote Kaekko, but at the same time temporary events such as Kaekko Bazaar and various workshops bring a large number of people together and create an excitement which has the ability to animate the activity of Kaekko and extend its practices.
In Fuji's own engagement of Kaekko in a workshop form, he has stressed that his approach is not one of a typical educational structure, he does not aim to teach anything to the participants, but again to offer a framework in which participants can pursue their own imagination. Those coming to the workshop with the preconceived idea that they will be formerly taught something may be at first disappointed, but are encouraged to discover, through the freedom of experimentation and self-expression, something new which they can teach themselves.
He provided a number of examples of successful exchanges which have bridged between the contexts of the arts and community. He recently participated in Aquapolis Osaka festival where a Kaeru station was set up and through a series of workshops large scale sculptures of dinosaurs were created from toy parts. An event held at Art Tower Mito in 2008 "Kaekko Forum" also provided a key opportunity for discussion between artists, NPOs, Kaekko organizers and Kaekko participants. As the movement has spread through the country how have Hiroshi Fuji and his partner Yoko Fuji been able to manage such an extensive project? In truth it is an impossible task, Yoko admitting that she is regularly invited to facilitate Kaekko events throughout the country, but she does not have the time to join all of these. They are happy to provide information about Kaekko but ask that interested parties take on the activity themselves and find their own methods and resources for facilitating such projects. They very much encourage a grassroots approach to Kaekko which has been taken on by NPOs and PTAs and they hope to promote this independent community based method further.
A number of the discussion participants were already active in promoting and facilitating Kaekko. One member of a voluntary group has been engaged in Kaekko for over 7 years in Yamanashi and has particularly focused on the environmental message of Kaekko. Kaekko promotes the importance of re-using and recycling, which are fundamental in our current environmental condition. This led to a discussion upon the various different agenda's which Kaekko can be put to. This includes not only environmental issues, but also education, cultural exchange and most importantly play. To bring such agendas into the activity of Kaekko is seen as a valid practice but it requires a sensitive balance between fun and a deeper understanding of the message itself. Another aspect of Kaekko is its alternative economic model which introduces children to notions of currency, exchange and other economic principles. This model creates an important structure for Kaekko engagement - toys are valued and you may only exchange up to the value of points collected making the system fair, but also giving it a form of reality close to the economic exchanges of the commercial world which add to the competitiveness and fun of Kaekko.
With the wealth of experience present among the discussion group how could this be focused towards the future development of Kaekko and specifically the form it may take at 3331 Arts Chiyoda? A key asset of Kaekko is its flexibility, being able to adapt to the specific context in which it is facilitated. In the case of the 3331 Kaeru Station this is also applicable. The neighbourhood has a specific demographic, with a larger population of middle-aged and senior citizens as opposed to children, so an important function of Kaeru Station would be to welcome older people as well as children. A further area to consider would be the form of facilities which the Kaeru Station would provide, the materials, tools, toys which would be made available to visitors and what set of rules would be appropriate for maintaining a smooth running of the space, some of the principles and logistics of which were discussed here.
Another key necessity of the Kaeru Station is to provide information about the Kaekko movement, the network of people involved and how to facilitate their own activities. Some Kaekko facilitators have produced leaflets instructing on the principles of the activity and also a Kaekko map which provides an overview of key centres around the country which are involved in Kaekko. It was also suggested that some form of archive could also be established in conjunction with Kaeru Station, which could document the activities of these various centres and the development of the Kaekko movement.
In order to energize the space and offer new ideas and approaches to Kaekko, workshops are highly encouraged. 3331 Arts Chiyoda is a unique hub for young artists and their creativity can contribute to the evolution of the space through workshops and associated events. Furthermore it was suggested that once or twice a year the Kaeru Station should be part of festival events, which need not be specifically concentrated upon Kaekko, but could consist of a local festival which Kaekko could play a part in. This would provide a focal point for the Kaeru Station, encouraging the participation of wider groups of people and broadening its appeal. The main task of the 3331 Kaeru Station is to address the involvement of the local community and to provide a space in which they may feel comfortable entering while at the same time being creatively challenged. There is clear excitement at the future potentials of Kaekko, with many already devoted to its cause or curious to become a part of it. With such high interest we can be confident of the success of 3331 Kaeru Station.
The event ended with the Kaekko auction, always a highlight of Kaekko events, where children can bid their points against each other for popular toys. The event became quite heated as 5 children bid for the prize of a miniature steam engine (with real smoke!), won by the highest bidder of 10 points.
March 2010 heralded the opening of a brand new arts centre in the heart of Tokyo, in the famous electronics district of Akihabara. In Tokyo where there is such a plethora of arts facilities what can this new initiative provide for the city we may ask? 3331 Arts Chiyoda offers a new model for a creative hub which builds a unique platform for cross-disciplinary, cross-community and cross-regional exchange. Based on the site of a former junior high school, this renovated 4 storey building, with its original character, plays host to an exciting range of events, exhibitions, community facilities, creative organizations and artistic practitioners. 3331 creates a space in which people of many different backgrounds and experiences can come together to explore, learn and create.
The center has been initiated by members of the artist initiative group commandN, who have over 10 years of creative engagement established a wide reputation for their innovative approach to artistic projects, always determined to challenge the presumptions surrounding contemporary arts practice and to deconstruct its frameworks. They have undertaken a vigorous enquiry into the connection of art and everyday life, bringing contemporary arts into new spaces and into new relations with society. Their acclaimed projects include Akihabara TV - an international video festival screened on the televisions of Akihabara's electronics stores, Zerodate - a project bringing together artists hailing from Odate, Akita prefecture, in an attempt to revitalize the area, Tokyo Rabbit Paradise Project - a video installation in human size rabbit hutches presented in shopping centres around Europe and Asia and POWWOW a pioneering series of discussions between artists and other guest speakers and audiences in an informal setting. In their instigation of 3331 Arts Chiyoda the members aim to push their concept of alternative spaces and alternative arts practice to another stage, where a multiplicity of forms and perspectives can exist in the same point.
The centre is a testimony to the diversity of Japan's arts scene and its regional practices. This is clearly demonstrated in the wide range of tenant organizations based in the centre, including independent art galleries (Bambiart), organizations supporting and promoting the artistic work of people with disabilities (Able Art), exhibition and support centre for art students (Akibatamabi21), printing services (Rensei Print Park), community media networks (streetmedia) and arts education facilities. The centre also follows a philosophy of inclusivity and accessibility with a range of resources which are available for the public including meeting/conference facilities, sports/events hall, allotment plots and community spaces, encouraging the involvement of not only artists and arts related audiences but also from local communities and the general public.
Another distinctive feature of 3331 Arts Chiyoda is its artist in residency program, providing an opportunity to both young and established artists to pursue an active artistic engagement in the context of Tokyo. 3331's first resident artist was Taiwanese video artist and director of Taipei Contemporary Art Centre, Wang Jun-Jieh. 3331 is aiming to expand upon this program by connecting a number of different related residency centres in Okinawa, Akita and Toyama and form a network which will enable visiting artists to explore the distinctive cultural condition of different provincial areas of Japan.
3331 is not only concerned with providing a hub for Tokyo and the regions of Japan but is dedicated to building a network throughout wider Asia and internationally. Recent undertakings by commandN members in projects such as Regional Code Asia (an archive of interviews and resources from artists, curators and various organizations around Asia), demonstrate a keen motivation to develop deeper dialogues and collaborations within the region, an engagement which 3331 aims to nurture through its future activities.
The inaugural exhibition "Look if you like, but you will have to leap" presents 6 projects which clearly indicate the participatory, dialogical approach of 3331 both on a local and regional level. 3331 has made a significant commitment through the commissioning of 3 renowned artists for site-specific projects to be held at the centre over a five year period. An introduction to their projects is on display here. Katsuhiko Hibino, whose Day After Tomorrow project has connected communities in 22 areas throughout Japan through the nurturing and exchange of morning glory seeds, presents here a series of drawings made upon his travels, described as a reflection of the collection of memories and experiences built up through itinerant existence, rather like that of the seed. Hiroshi Fuji presents a vivid sculptural landscape, made from old toys collected through his toy exchange project Kaekko. Kazuhiko Hachiya introduces the projects of creative engineers and scientists in "Extreme DIY", a taster of the kind of hands on experimentation to be pursued in his Akihabara Tsukutte Mita Lab.
ZERODATE offers in a playful installation various unique goods from the local shopping streets of Odate, increasingly under threat of closure as large suburban shopping centres gain in popularity. Regional Code Asia brings together an exceptional body of resources collected from various areas of Asia examining the approaches of alternative arts spaces, creative practitioners and arts institutions. With video interviews with artists, curators and other arts professionals in India, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam and a wide range of texts, brochures and catalogues from even further afield the space presents an excellent opportunity to learn about the artistic innovation of neighbouring countries.
Finally the work of Wang Jun-Jieh produced during his residency period is here presented as Taipei Contemporary Art Centre Tokyo Branch, including works of various Taiwanese artists, an outline of the new art centre being established in Taipei and an area for visitors to share their thoughts upon what the function of an art centre should be.
Further related events have been taking place throughout the arts centre in celebration of its opening. These have included a symposium of alternative arts spaces from China, Taiwan, Korea and Singapore, a series of dance workshops/performances, an exhibition by Ryoichi Sakamoto and the Yellow Magic Orchestra, Insideout/Tokyo project (connecting Tokyo with the wider provinces of Japan) and the launch of nanairo a radio broadcasting channel for arts students.
3331 has already achieved a great deal within its first few weeks of opening, yet its official grand opening is yet to come. Set for 26th June 2010 the centre will be fully launched on an even more ambitious scale, with a whole series of stimulating events and exhibitions, we look forward to the further unleashing of 3331's potential.