“It cannot be overstated that the more global we want to be in our investigation, the more local we need to be in our attention.” - Reiko Tomii, “Radicalism In The Wilderness”
“This city can be known only by an activity of an ethnographic kind: you must orient yourself in it not by book, by address, but by walking, by sight, by habit, by experience; here every discovery is intense and fragile, it can be repeated or recovered only by memory of the trace it has left in you: to visit a place for the first time is thereby to begin to write it.” - Roland Barthes, “Empire of Signs”
With the annual residency program and lecture series as its foundational anchor, End of Summer continues to expand the scope of its activities through ongoing research and additional programming in its second year.
In February 2017, End of Summer was invited to participate in a three month research residency program at 3331 Arts Chiyoda in Tokyo, Japan.
Founded in 2010, 3331 Arts Chiyoda is a community-based, multidisciplinary arts center housed in a converted elementary school building. Already considered a pioneering art space in Tokyo, 3331 Arts Chiyoda has become influential in its commitment to proposing “a new model for alternative arts” in Japan. This “new model” is manifested in both the unconventional art it champions as well as its business model, being a privately run organization without government support. 3331 Arts Chiyoda was founded by Masato Nakamura, who represented Japan at the National Pavilion, Venice in 2001 as an artist, and has been internationally acclaimed for creating a number of landmark exhibitions which paved the way for a new understanding of the relationship between art and society in Japan.
From February to April 2017, End of Summer Director Matt Jay utilized 3331 Arts Chiyoda as a home base to conduct research on contemporary art practices in Japan and foster new relationships with art communities and organizers. A primary point of the research was to further understand artistic practices and local art histories in regions of the country beyond Tokyo. Time was spent in cities such as Kyoto, Nagoya, Kanazawa and Mito, as well as areas immediately outside of central Tokyo including Sagamihara and Ibaraki. Artist studio collectives, curators, scholars and organizers were sought out in each town or city, helping to form a picture of the local activity and history.
A second point of focus for the research was to seek out artist-run and alternative art spaces in particular. If contemporary art discourse largely remains Western-centric, with Japanese art on the “periphery” and thus operating from a position less internationally understood, then the small alternative spaces of Japan (often outside of the cultural hub of Tokyo) represent some of the least visible but most vital perspectives. In this sense, they are removed from the center of discourse within a country whose artistic activity is already considered peripheral. However as the case often is, some of the most independent or radical art and curatorial practices in Japan are given their platforms for expression by these spaces.
A deeper understanding of the current climate of contemporary art in Japan would not be possible without a thorough introduction to its artist-run and alternative spaces. Some of the spaces visited included Model Room in Ome, Social Kitchen in Kyoto, ge-Shuku and KAPO in Kanazawa, Minatomachi Art Table and Aichi Art Center in Nagoya, XYZ Collective, Aikoko Gallery and Workstation in Tokyo, among many others.
As a project that is designed to be open ended and responsive to shifting dynamics in art, society and the local communities in which it immediately serves, End of Summer requires the hands on engagement that this research stay provided in order to thrive and evolve. A more intimate understanding of current contemporary art activity in Japan better informs us of what the most relevant approach to working with the artists in residence each August will be. The connections made with artists, professors and curators feed not only the contextual underpinnings of End of Summer, but open new possibilities for invigorating Portland’s art community through continued programming and access to these individuals and their related organizations.
A printed booklet will be produced about the 2017 End of Summer Research Stay in Japan, featuring text and photographs on a selection of the art spaces that were visited. Additionally, a series of iPhone field recordings made in Tokyo during the stay will be available for listening on the End of Summer website.