ART ISSUE Magazine (China)
"Japan: Artist Studios and Artist-in-Residence Programs"
Spring 2009 – By Lucy Birmingham
Because of a chronic shortage of funding for the arts in Japan, Tokyo Wonder Site (TWS) has been an inspiration. Backed by the Tokyo Metropolitan government, this arts initiative is overseen by the Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture along with the city-run museums. It is the first government sponsored arts support program of its kind in the nation's capital.
TWS was launched on Christmas Day in 2001 with the opening of the art gallery space in Hongo. This was followed by a gallery space in Shibuya unveiled in July 2005 and a Creator-in-Residence facility in Aoyama that opened in November 2007. This multi-layered program now manages an exciting synergy of exhibitions, concerts, lectures, workshops, collaborations and artist residences. Participating artists include a full range, from emerging to established, both Japanese and international, with a focus on the fine arts and music.
Heading TWS is director Yusaku Imamura, the visionary behind the program who convinced Governor Shintaro Ishihara to reform the city's culture policy. Fluent in English and trained as an architect, Imamura got the idea for TWS from the innovative AA School of Architecture in London.
The Tokyo Wonder Site activities include, "TWS-Emerging," a series of solo exhibitions by emerging artists held in the Hongo art gallery. A total of about 115 artists are being introduced in 2008. "TEAM" Is a series of solo exhibitions by emerging artists in the Shibuya gallery space that will include 14 artists this year. For the "Wonder Seeds" project about 100 small works by emerging artists are chosen per year in an open competition that has been held 6 times so far. "On Site Lab-Emerging Artists Support Program in Music," introduces 6-10 musicians every year. And in the "Creator-in-Residence" program, about 100 artists are selected per year to stay at TWS Aoyama for about 2 to 3 months. The facility includes both a residential unit and studio space. During their residency, artists are asked to create works that reflect their time in Japan. Some artists are invited to exhibit this work at the Shibuya or Hongo galleries
Last Fall, the Goethe-Institute Japan joined with TWS in supporting a residency and exhibition involving artists and curators from Indonesia, Turkey, Germany, Japan and countries in the Middle East. The unprecedented exhibition titled, "What Game Shall We Play Today" and subsequent round table talks explored art through the dynamism of cultural diversity. The artists' works in the show were created during their residency. TWS and the Goethe-Institue Japan are hoping to continue this "cultural dialogue" with future residencies, exhibitions and events.
Following this, TWS organized another important residency and exhibition inspired by this year's 100th anniversary of Japanese immigration to Brazil, "The Japan-Brazil Exchange Year." The exhibition titled "Haptic," now showing until Jan. 12 at the TWS Hongo gallery, was curated by the well-known Brazilian-born New York City-based artist Vic Muniz. The three artists from Japan and three from Brazil chosen by Muniz created new works for the show that reflected the visually sensorial theme. Interestingly, the artists found that they had subtly influenced each other's work in the process. (http://www.tokyo-ws.org/english/)
Yokohama is fast becoming one of the most art-centric cities in Japan. The progressive savvy mayor, Hiroshi Nakata has eyed art as a good business opportunity and tourist attraction. In tandem, the city government has been feverishly preparing for next year's 150th anniversary celebration of the Port of Yokohama opening in 1859. The government-backed Arts Commission Yokohama (http://www.yaf.or.jp/artscommission/english.html), established in 2007, is part of this effort. Called an "arts concierge" they help facilitate the city's growing number of local and international art-related events, programs and communities. Included under the Arts Commission Yokohama umbrella are BankART 1929, ZAIM and Koganecho Bazaar that offer a variety of arts-related services including artist-in-residency programs and artist studio space.
BankART 1929, established in 2004, is a combination of for-profit and non-profit activities now divided into four main buildings: BankART, BankART Studio NYK, BankART Sakuraso and BankART Kamomeso. The "headquarters" is in BankART, a refurbished bank building near the city center. Here, they run the art Shop, Pub & Cafe, spaces for exhibitions, seminars, workshops and the BankART School that enrolled about 500 students in 2007. BankART Studio NYK is located in a renovated warehouse nearby, close to the waterfront. In 2007, the selection committee chose about 67 individual artists and art "teams," mostly Japanese, to use the studios at about 2-month intervals. This year, the building was reconstructed as exhibition space for the 2008 Yokohama Triennale that ran from September to November. So BankART 1929 is now in the process of rebuilding about 15 artist studios. Rental fees are decided on a case-by-case basis. BankART Sakuraso and BankART Kamomeso are both used as artist residences and are located in nearby Koganecho. Sakuraso, with 3 private rooms, opened in 2006, and Kamomeso, with 2 private rooms, in 2008. From 2007-2008 they housed approximately 20 artists, about 1/3 from abroad. BankART is also actively involved in an international exchange program with performing and fine artists from Taipei, England and Australia. Amidst the vast number of programs and top-down management style, some artists however have felt lost in the shuffle and wanting more hands-on care. But the enthusiasm and commitment of the staff keeps the energy high and creativity flowing. (http://www.bankart1929.com/),
ZAIM was set up in 2006, also backed by the Yokohama City government, and has been focusing on emerging Japanese and Asian artists. Along with 33 artist studios, ZAIM has been renting space in their two historic buildings for a bevy of exhibitions, concerts, workshops, performances, film screenings and symposiums. The buildings though will be closed from 2010 to about 2012 for renovation. ZAIM is already winding down their 2009 commitments. (http://za-im.jp/php/)
Koganecho Bazaar was launched last September as part of a two-prong effort to gentrify the area and bring art into the community. Kogancho was originally an infamous red-light district. It took the city over ten years to extinguish underworld control. Left behind after the cleanup were many small empty brothels set under the train tracks, perfect for a shop or artist space. It was an opportunity that beckoned, the chance for the city to create an artist enclave that was accessible to the community, an off-shoot of the Yokohama Triennale. Starting next year, artist studios and shops are available from Jan. 10–March 31. (Application deadline is December 18.) There are about 14 studio-like spaces housed mainly in three buildings: Kogane Studio (5 spaces and cafe), Hinode Studio (2 spaces) and Hatsune Studio (3 spaces) that can also be used as a residence. Rental fees range from about 30,000-90,000 yen per month depending upon the artist and shop. (Some artists will be exempt from rental fees.) The spaces are small, many with large glass windows, so they are better suited for artists who work on a small scale and don't mind a lack of privacy. Koganecho Bazaar has plans to expand the number of studios and residences with more real estate collaborations and renovations. There is concern though that while Koganecho Bazaar promotes commercial ventures, the focus on art will fade. A balanced synergy between commercial shops and artist studios needs to be maintained. (http://www.koganecho.net/)
Surrounded by lush nature yet only one hour by train from Tokyo's Akihabara, the ARCUS Project offers a unique artist residency. Located in the area of Moriya City in Ibaraki Prefecture, it is one of the best known artist support programs in Japan. The prefectural government initiated ARCUS in 1991 and partnered with Moriya City in 1995 to set up the artist-in-residency as a pilot project. It was so successful at involving the local community that the two governments formally established the program in 2000 as the "ARCUS Project." Now the program also includes support from the ACC (Asian Cultural Council), embassies, foundations and private companies.
The ARCUS Project office, public activity rooms, exhibition spaces and artist studios are in a converted elementary school. The artist-in-residency program is typically three to four months per year, held between August and December. Three to five artists are chosen every year, both Japanese and nonJApanese, but the competition is fierce. For the 2008 program, they received 350 applicants. Four artists were chosen from Taiwan, the U.K., France and the Netherlands. The generous compensation is a big reason why the program is so popular. Artists are awarded 200,000 yen per month (100,000 yen for living expenses and 100,000 yen for project fees). ARCUS Project arranges rooms in Moriya City where the artists can stay. The application deadline for the 2009 program is March 31. (http://www.arcus-project.com/en/)
The Akiyoshidai International Art Village (AIAV) offers a quiet meditative environment with comfortable sleek facilities designed by the famed architect Arata Isozaki. Tucked within a mountainous region next to a national park famous for its limestone landscape, AIAV is located in Yamaguchi Prefecture at the southern tip of Honshu. It's half way between the cities of Fukuoka and Hiroshima, about 30-minutes each way by bullet train. Constructed in 1998, with the support of the prefecture and local governments, AIAV is generously equipped for a variety of art activities including music, fine arts, dance and drama. Artists can participate in three ways: 1) "Residence Support" (artists-in-residence) program; offered once-a-year to three artists for a three month period between January and March. Competition however is stiff. For the 2008 program AIAV received 185 applications. The three artists chosen were from South Africa, Slovenia and a Korean-American living in the U.S. For the 2009 program the artists are from Thailand (filmmaker), Japan (installation artist) and an American living in Manchester, U.K. (documentary filmmaker.) Age is apparently not an issue although they focus on emerging artists. AIAV pays all individual travel expenses, plus 230,000 yen per session for art production costs and a 2,800 yen daily allowance for the 72-day program. The residential houses are separate but near the main building with 7 studios and 3 seminar rooms (which can also be used as studio space.) 2) "Resident Fellow;" typically artists arrange their own grant that covers their production costs and living expenses. AIAV offers free accommodation and studio space as well as curatorial staff support. Artists are invited throughout the year for a maximum one-month stay. In 2008, there have been 10 artists participating in this option. 3) "Rental;" it's possible to rent a studio (from 2,000 yen/hour) or seminar room (from 300 yen/hour). For accommodation in the shared houses, individual rooms cost 3,000/night for one person. (HYPERLINK "http://www.aiav.jp/"www.aiav.jp/)
Tokyo Wonder Site (TWS)
COSMOS Aoyama SOUTH 3F
5-53-67 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
Tokyo 150-0001 Japan
Ms. Reina ASHIBE
Arts Commission Yokohama
ZAIM-Main Building 1F
34 Nihon Odori, Naka-ku, Yokohama
Kanagawa 231-0021 Japan
URL: (English) www.yaf.or.jp/artscommission/english.html
URL: (Japanese) www.yaf.or.jp/artscommission/main.html
ACY Coordinator: Eisuke SUGIZAKI
EMAIL: HYPERLINK "mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org"email@example.com
BankART 1926 Yokohama
6-50-1 Honcho, Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa-ken 231-8315
TEL : +81-(0)45-663-2812
FAX : +81-(0)45-663-2813
EMAIL: HYPERLINK "mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org"email@example.com
Directors: Mr. Osamu IKEDA / Mr. MIZOHATA
PR/Press: Tamaki HOSOBUCHI
BankART Studio NYK
3-9 Kaigandori, Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa-ken 231-0002
TEL : +81-(0)45-663-4677
34 Nihon Odori, Naka-ku, Yokohama
Kanagawa 231-0021 Japan
EMAIL: HYPERLINK "mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org"zaim＠yaf.or.jp
Director: Ms. Jyunko FUKUTOMI
EMAIL: HYPERLINK "mailto:email@example.com"firstname.lastname@example.org
2-165-203 Hinode-cho, Naka-ku
Ms. Nao OBIYA
Akiyoshidai International Art Village
50 Akiyoshi, Shuoho-cho
Yamaguchi, 754 0511
TEL: +81 837 63 0020
FAX: +81 837 63 0021
EMAIL: HYPERLINK "mailto:email@example.com"firstname.lastname@example.org
URL HYPERLINK "http://www.aiav.jp/"www.aiav.jp/
2418 Itatoi, Moriya
Ibaraki 302-0101 Japan
TEL/FAX: +81 297 46 2600
Manager: Machiko KURODA