3331 Arts Chiyoda is an open space which anyone can join, bringing together people of all ages, experiences, backgrounds and interests. In a reflection of this open nature "3331 Independents" is an exhibition which anyone could submit their work to, without any selection process or heirachy, and as a result we now have a gallery filled with the works of over 330 artists! With a vibrant collision of colours and forms the show expounds a unique energy which is bound to inspire each visitor.
Furthermore in the pursuit of democratic processes and greater audience participation 3331 is asking all visitors to the exhibition to vote for their favourite work. The most appraised artist according to visitors and special reciew panel will be awarded a special scholarship, with a solo exhibition next year! So come and practice your democratic right and cast your votes now!
The Tokyo DIY Gardening workshop took place on 21st August with great success. Here are some photos from the great map which all the participants created.
Tokyo DIY Gardening Workshop took place at 3331 on 21st September 2010, led by Jared Braiterman and Chris Berthelsen. The workshop brought together participants from all parts of Tokyo to investigate its green and grey areas.
Jared Braiterman is currently a researcher at Tokyo University of Agriculture and has established "Tokyo Green Space" http://tokyogreenspace.com/ to investigate creative solutions to the lack of readily availiable green spaces in the centre of the city.
Chris Bethelsen has been researching the DIY spirit of Tokyo's locals in "Fixes" http://a-small-lab.com/ highlighting alterations of space/objects at the public/private boundary in suburban Tokyo.
The workshop was a great success, with all participants highly enthused to engage in dialogue about their experiences of Tokyo's green side. Kicking off with an insightful presentation by Jared, the group then got going with some pre-gardening excerise (the importance of which Chris emphasised to us all), then the group began on the main task. To map the green and grey of Tokyo.
Starting with a plain sheet of paper, with a single green circle upon it (yes the yamanote line) the group began to map out Tokyo and to share their personal experinces of nature filled places, and others where these are severly lacking. The end result was an impressively multi-dimensional schematic of the concrete city which suprisingly has a great deal of green if you look carefully.
Thanks to Jared and Chris for a great workshop and we look forward to their further activities.
The second part in the special exhibition as part of 3331 Presents TOKYO:Part 2 launched on 20th August under the title of "TOKYO DIVERSITY". The exhibition aims to highlight the richness of Tokyo's creativity and its multi-cultural nature. The exhibition brings together creative practitioners hailing from Asia, America, Africa and Europe with 6 select exhibits which the reflect Tokyo's internationalism. A great chance to catch a taste of the multiplicity of expressions and international networks which exist in the city.
Architecure design unit BAKOKO have created a highly orignal structure made of living plants, under the title "Living Room". Hanging from the ceiling are a miriad of Spanish moss tendrils, creating a curtain of green, enwrapping the viewer as they enter the space, within which an overview of BAKOKO's projects is presented.
3331 is also very pleased to present the highly acclaimed work of Wafrica, a merge of African and Japanese aesthetics in the form of the kimono. Here a series of photos of both Japanese and African models capture the unique designs of Serge Mouangue who has envisioned a new form of kimono using African textiles.
John Moore Organics presents an overview of the organizations diverse activities which include workshops, seminars and organic tours as well of course as engaging in organic farming in many areas throughout Japan.
etteda is a creative project between artists, designers and architechts in Japan and Korea. Now in its 4th year the project brings together creative practitioners in artistic collaboration and cultural exchange.
HAA! House of African Art is a new initiative aimed at promoting awareness of African arts in Japan. Here the work of both Afican painters and sculptors as well as Japanese artist Nisho Yoshinari who has been engaged in a long term project in Nairobi.
dislocate is an international media art project taking place annually in Tokyo examining the relation between art, technology and locality. This year it will be hosted by 3331, and will take the form of an arist in residence program with artists from Japan, India, China and Indonesia exloring the possibilities of media technology in the realization of democracy and social engagement.
3331 is in the local english-language press of Japan Times and Metropolis this month, with an overview of its facilities and vision, as well as an introduction to one of the participating artists in the current "TOKYO DIVERSITY" exhibition. Please see the below links.
"3331 Presents TOKYO:Part 2" includes a specially invited project initiated by Natalie Willer and Marcia Lise, known as the "HAFU Project". "HAFU" (half) has become a common phrase to describe someone who has a family background of both Japanese and another "ethnicity". The term is used widely but what is the connotation of this term and how does it reflect our thinking towards ethnicity, nationality and identity?
If someone is designated a "hafu" does this mean they can not be fully Japanese?
There are numerous debates which can be instigated by this term, the political correctness of which is itself highly debateable, and yet this debate does not seem to have a public footing. The image of Japan as a homogeneous society has always been a mirage, and any notion of "race" is itself an imaginary concept, we can claim, but in the last decades with greater ease of transport and global networks, the internationalization and diversity of not only Japan but countries world-wide has highly increased. With such diversity and mix of backgrounds, why then do we still insist on definitions of nationality and ethnicity?
The HAFU project undertakes to question these notions by relating the experiences of people who have roots in different cultures/countries in addition to Japan. The collaboration between photographer Natalie Maya Willer and sociologist Marcia Yumi Lise is a powerful binding of visual expression and social/theoretical investigation. Working with other artists, creative practitioners and researchers, they have been evolving the project over three years, including exhibitions, interviews, seminars and workshops. The team are now in the process of creating a feature film which examines the experiences of individuals and families of mixed Japanese background.
The HAFU project members have very kindly put great effort into realizing a special exhibition as part of "3331 Presents TOKYO" show. Natalie has travelled all the way from Germany, where she is based, especially for this exhibition, bringing the work with her. Here the they present a photographic series, accompanied by interviews and a short preview to their upcoming film. In addition a special addition catalogue is on sale, which highly detailed and insightful commentary upon the debates of "hafu" identity.
Furthermore on 13th August (Friday) from 19:00-22:00, they will be holding a seminar event entitled "Nibun-no-ni (Two out of two)" vol 2 which will discuss the complex issues of ethnicity and identity and the particular experiences of "hafus".
We highly encourage you to come to this event, join the debate and learn a new perspective.
For more information please visit: http://www.hafujapanese.org/
3331 Presents Tokyo : Part 2 has now opened!
The second part in this exhibition celebrating the grand opening of 3331 Arts Chiyoda opened today, 7th August and will run until the 29th August. Again the gallery is filled with an exciting range of works with participation from creatives from all walks of life and many different backgrounds. From young children, to students, to people with disabilities, to the international community, to centenarians, this exhibition encompasses a wide social field, allowing everyone to enjoy the positive activities engaged in by the many groups exhibiting in this show.
Here is a small taste of what is on offer:
Wednesday 4th August saw the third in our series of presentations by creative practitioners from around Asia. This time we were pleased to host the curator/writer Simon Soon and conceptual artist Chi Too, from Malayasia. Under the title of "Playing with the Public" the two creatives introduced a number of projects initiated by themselves and other artists in Malaysia which seek to challenge our notions of public space.
Simon Soon is currently in Tokyo under the The Japan Foundation "JENESYS Programme: Invitation Programme for Creators" and investigating the city's arts resources. He is a key a key leader in the arts scene of Kuala Lumpur and has a highly in depth understanding of contemporary art from the wider South East Asian region. Having engaged in the commercial art world as well as seeking to find new expressions outside of the system, Simon is well placed to comment upon both the art market and the alternative arts movement in Malaysia. He also plays an important role in trying to encourage the engagement of new audiences with art, and widening participation and disscussion in this field, particularly promoted by the internet site arteri (http://www.arterimalaysia.com/), which allows the public to comment upon and review the arts and has already gained much success within its first year.
In his presentation Simon idenitified three main types of creative public engagement. Firstly he introduced the notions of participation through the utlization of web 2.0, then the physical mobilization of groups and lastly building encounters and dialogues through performance.
In terms of web 2.0 and social media Simon introduced the activities of popfolio and internet forum which hosts a net based TV show "pop TV" which includes "The Fairly Current Show" and the "The Effing Show" which try to draw young people into critical debate upon social and political issues through various humorous strategies. Further to this he presented the ironic "6th Kuala Lumpur Triennale", devised by Ray Lagenbach in 2009 which was an imaginary Triennale taking place only on second life. Other projects included Projek Angkat Rumah, 2008 in which crowds of people came together to move a house through the street, Sudden Death, 2009, a project organized by Mark Teh in response to the assaination of an opposition leader who was pushed from a tower block, Let Arts Move You, 2007, a project taking place on trains with performances, screenings and installations, Contemporary Art in Schools, 2008, which brought contemporary artists into a junior high school to work with students and realize collaborative projects, and finally Buka Mulut, 2010, a performance night taking place in a family resturant, again engaging a very new audience to art practices.
Chi Too is an artist whose career has only spanned 1 year yet has already achieved a great deal. With a background in activist film direction/production for NGOs Chi Too has always been trying to make a statement, but when it comes to art he avoids heavy handed messages, becoming tired already by the over-political traditions in Malaysian contemporary art. Instead he makes jest of the art system, subverting its values and attempting to engage the arts scene in self-mockery.
Chi Too went on to introduce more projects which he has been directly engaged in including the activities of "The Best Art Show in the Univers", including everything from cookery lessons to giant tiger pinata to watching paint dry. Pushing his playful humour, wit and irony to a peak in the collaborative project with Simon Soon in the "3rd Pyongyang International Arts Festival in Kuala Lumpur 2010". An art festival taking place in an abandoned house in a popular area of KL, with all artists supposedly hand selected by the "dear leader", with installations, performances and live bands and the participation of highly respected curators and civil servants, proving to be a highly successful event.
Avoiding direct commentary on political/social conditions but highly mindful of the siutation around him, Chi Too makes humorous, sutble gestures which attempt to infiltrate the public awareness. In response to the burning of a church in ethnic clashes, Chi Too sought to reassure people by initiating the project "Everything's going to be alright", gathering a crowd of friends and strangers in a central commercial district to give out flowers to passers by. He is now using this public space as a regular platform for performative events, including "The Most Important Thing in the World", a performance by Sharon Chin who invited strangers to listen to each others hearbeats, and the recent "Flash Mop", a play on the term flash mob, bringing groups of participants together who proceeded to mop the streets.
Finally Chi Too spoke about his ongoing project 'Main Dengan Rakyat' (playing with the people) which is running every month in the national square of KL. This is a highly politicized and highly regulated space, which is utilized for nationally endorsed events and also as a space for oppositional protest. WIth a high lack of public spaces in Malaysia, with only malls and cafes allowing for people to come together in any sense of the public, Chi Too attempts to reclaim spaces for public use through the innocent activity of playing childhood games on the wide green space of the national square. A group of people now join together regularly to play games here, despite the 27 by-laws which prohibit any kind of action in the space. Through a very simple inoffensive action Chi Too has been able to infiltrate the space and defy the regulations which prevent participation from the public.
Simon Soon and Chi Too offered a highly engaging insight into the relation of art and public space in Malaysia, with critical commentary and observations not only upon the arts scene but also upon the social, political and economic situation in the country which is very much the point of departure for many of these creative acitivities.
We are very grateful to Simon Soon, Chi Too and also Darryl for his great translation.
You can view the presentation on ustream
It's called a secret auction, but we want everyone to know this secret. Throughout the two part exhibition "3331 Presents Tokyo" 3331 is holding a special kind of auction of work by renowned artists. Already over 40 artists have contributed their work to this event including Fuji Hiroshi, Kazuhiko Hachiya, Richard Streitmatter-Tran, Yoshinari Noshio and Hiroko Masuko. What is secret about the secret auction? This secret auction is in fact a silent auction, participants can place their bids throughout the auction period, but have no idea what bids have already come before them, or what will follow. This is an opportunity to consider what it means to put a price on an art work and what is its value. Through this activity secret ties are formed between the artist and the work, the work and the viewer, so surely we can say it is a "secret auction".
The last in the three part secret auction series will be taking place between 7th -29th August in 3331's gallery B. Why not try your luck and bid for a work?
※This auction is a 3331 donation project, half of the profit will be awarded to the artist while the remaining half will be used for 3331 creative activities. Please help to support 3331.
Tokyo Art Book Fair exploded upon 3331 over the weekend, drawing huge crowds, as well as participants, to join in this celebration of original publishing creativity. Organized each year by ZINE's MATE this highly popular event brings together artistic and cultural publishers from across the world to share their original products, from globally distributed catalogues to independent innovations of creative individuals, the Tokyo Art Book Fair was a throng with diversity and colour.
3331 was abuzz all weekend, with crowds of young people coming to see what the numerous exhibitors had to offer. Not only were there exhibits and stalls filled with an eclectic mix of books, magazines, zines and other original products but also a full program of talk events and presentations running throughout the Fair, informing audiences about the various engagements of the exhibitors and offering them an opportunity to join in dialogue with them.
A great success all round.
Regional Code Asia - Talk Series
In tandem with the Regional Code Asia archive 3331 has initiated a series of regular events to introduce the activities of some of the most interesting alternative arts engagements in the region. This is a great opportunity to discover the eclectic approaches to the possibilities of arts expression and collaboration in many different parts of Asia.
Last week 3331 hosted a screening and presentation by Thai artist Patavee Viranuvat, also attended by the minister of the Thai embassy. Patavee presented his work in progress "ofukuronikanpai" which he has been filming during his residency at s-air, Sapporo under the Japan Foundation's Jenesys Project. Although not yet completed the poetic yet honest work already has a strong character and impacted upon the audience its message of motherly love as well as the difficulties which mothers face. Patavee then gave a detailed commentary upon his new work describing the motivation for its creation, stemming from his own family relationships
This week saw the next in these series of talks, this time held by Vietnam artists and organizers Nguyen Anh Tuan (Mami) and Nguyen Phuong Linh. They provided a rich insight into the development of the contemporary art scene in Hanoi and wider Vietnam, and in particular highlighted the important contribution of Vietnam's first alternative art space "Nha San Studio", which they are both involved in running. Linh introduced some of the first generations of artists active in contemporary art in Vietnam as well as providing an overview of her own work, including a major research project into the salt industry throughout the country, which eventually took the form of an ambitious sculptural/installation series. Mami shared his in depth knowledge of the performance art scene in Hanoi, completed with commentaries upon his own oeuvre of performative actions, highly political and personal at the same time.
These presentations were followed by performances by both artists. Linh, half dressed, performed a simple, but highly sexualized action of drinking milk, spitting it into a polythene bag then pouring its contents over herself. Mami requested the audience's participation in the realization of his work, asking each individual to bite his arm after he had shaved and disinfected it. Showing no sign of pain he calmly walked from person to person in this violent yet somehow sensual exchange.
23rd April saw the opening of 3331 Arts Chiyoda's latest exhibition, an impressive solo show by one of Japan's pioneers of the avant-garde, Kosei Sasaki, presenting his work for the first time in 40 years. Friends, colleagues, patrons and members of the art scene gathered to celebrate this occasion, with the artist in person.
At the age of 82, holding this exhibition marks a new stage in his life the artist commented. For decades after returning to Japan after over 20 years in America and Europe, Sasaki isolated himself from the art world and art discourse, he became, he says, a wanderer in the world, drifting and experiencing the things around him.
His era was one of madness and hardship, growing up during the war and facing the following devastation. But now there is a very new era, the artist comments, one of diversity and potential, reflected by the many different people gathered for this opening - people who do not know this era, people who have grown up with new technology and who have experienced many different aspects of the world. Sasaki particularly thanked 3331 for providing such a unique stage for the setting of this exhibition, their vision also contributing towards a new era, creating a new value to be transmitted to many people.
But what is the value which Sasaki wishes to transmit? Sasaki believes the important questions are what are people doing in the world? How should we live? What should we do? Through such questions art, learning, thinking becomes central to life. "We need to have strength to face the world, to face these questions, and even though I may be old, I am taking up this challenge" he told the gathered audience.
Sasaki claims that the era of the artist presenting his creativity as art has finished. As an artist, but more importantly as a human being, one must consider what is it you want to do, what is important, what is it you want to say, this is what matters now, and this is what he attempts to do in his work.
This way of thinking has emerged from his time as a "wanderer" as he puts it, in which he engaged everyday in a conversation with himself, with the mountains, with the sun, what kind of existence is there between human beings and the things around them became of paramount questioning to him. What can I do? What do I want to do? What is best to do? These are the questions which have occupied him, not notions of what is art.
After being diagnosed with cancer of the stomach 10 years ago, Sasaki tells of how he had to face his own death and realized that there was still something he wanted to do, still something he wanted to share with other people through art and began to take up painting again.
The exhibition certainly lives up to its name "Total Affirmation : Ok. Perfect. Yes", one is bombarded with colour, boldness and sheer scale of 50 works. There is no timidity here, no uncertainty, there is complete acceptance. The series of paintings created over a 10 year period project a confidence and optimism which is difficult not to be touched by. The energy of organic abstract forms, with planes of pure colour creates a life of its own, becoming living organisms dancing under the microscope. Reminiscent in some ways of Keith Herring and Victor Pasmore they bring together playfulness and reflection simultaneously.
The 43 minute documentary presented as part of this exhibition records Sasaki's process of painting accompanied by a detailed interview. The small frail frame of Sasaki, teetering on the edge of a plastic paint splattered stool reaching out to the canvas, is in strong contrast with the large bold works he creates before him. "I am not doing anything difficult, I am just doing what I want to do" he says in his self-built studio surrounded by the mountains of the Gunma countryside. He describes how he has been constantly fraught with this very question "What is it that I want to do?" and the pursuit of this question has led him to engage in all manner of activities in many places around the world. Growing up in the countryside as a child he had no exposure to art, and was not even particularly interested in painting but was of a more philosophical leaning. But he realized he could express something through art and came to pursue this in the cutting edge of avant-garde movements of the 1960's. A movement which can be glimpsed in this exhibition through the series of scrap books and paper cuttings collected by Sasaki. Yet still he comments that he does not relate to art as an artist, for him it is just what he has to do, art is created by the people who view it and appreciate it.
Sasaki exudes a determination a concrete force which drives him in his work, yet at the same time has a distinctive openness to the world. He may also take the position of the flaneur as demonstrated in the series of film taken by Sasaki between 1971-1974 on the streets of the New York neighbourhood where he lived. Grainy images of warped colour accompanied by 70's rock flicker, stammer and jump from one perspective to the next, weaving through pedestrians, strolling through the park, driving through the streets of downtown Manhattan - bright lights, laden shop fronts, piles of trash, abandoned cars, colourful characters, it is all there, capturing Sasaki's spirit as a wanderer, observing the world around him and accepting every part of it.
This is certainly an exhibition to uplift and revive a positivity towards the world. But it also inspires a question in us, a challenge, what is it that you want to do?
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.