“The biggest distance you can have to a spot on earth is the moment you leave it, because every step you take from there brings you closer to it again” romances Victor Segalen, french writer and philosopher in 1903 a.d. when he was travelling East Asia and Polynesia. He can be considered to be the first European, whose aim was to experience the other without becoming a “pimp of exotism”. A small but important difference, that gets lost in the translation of this quote is, that the german term ‘erfahren’ not only means ‘experience’, but in a very litteral way ‘moving around’.
Sanghee Song (Artist)
Currently I work and live in Amsterdam. Here in Amsterdam, when cold air and the distant cries of crows surround me, my thoughts go towards the woods of Aomori – to the deep wood scent, the sound of dry leaves crumbling as I walked through the woods behind my residency studio in Aomori Contemporary Art Centre. During my three month stay at the residency program of ACAC these woods and skies were where I found peace and relief.
Living as an artist means that there is something uncomfortable inside oneself. It is an abrasive situation. The ground that one is standing on feels slant and trembling, it is a constant feeling of anxiety, uneasiness and awkwardness. Even how, as I go through these moments, my eyes witness many things. And what my eye witnessed is left as a rupture in my heart. As Barbara Kruger once noted in her work ‘Your body is a battleground ‘, as an artist my body is a battleground. And the ruptures left in me inflame. They are answerless, suffocating hours. The only answer is just dive into the artwork (shut up and just make your artwork :）), or to go to places where you could work. For me it was ‘Aomori’.
In 2007 I was invited to participate in the trans_2006-2007 Residence Support Program at the Akiyoshidai International Art Village. It was my first time visiting Japan and I was thrilled to spend 70 days in a new place. In 2007 we were altogether three artists from different countries, each realising our own project. Since that first long residency, I have returned to AIAV as a fellow artist in 2008, 2010 and 2011. Due to all those residencies Japanese culture, nature and its people have become a precious and continuous source of inspiration for me.
I work with movement, voice and sound design. I also write songs, make choreographies and play instruments. I consider myself as an explorer of the possibilities of the body and its relation to the world, nature and people. Therefore, traveling to foreign countries and spending time in different cultures is a crucial part of my work. Even as I explore the possibilities of expression in the human body, I also explore geographic and cultural landscapes. I am interested in how the interaction between people and environment influences our creative ways of expression. I believe that experiencing and making art can add to the general well-being of the world.
Ema 0ta （3331 Arts Chiyoda)
Towards a New Model of Arts Engagement
3331 Arts Chiyoda, based in Akihabara, Tokyo, is an independent initiative, opened in 2010, with the aim to support a new model of arts engagement beyond the existing gallery and museum system, connecting the general public and communities, in a new way, to the possibilities of artistic expression. 3331 offers a unique approach to creative practice, based on the site of an old school the centre provides over 4 floors of exhibition space, workshop facilities, meeting rooms, office space for arts organizations, independent galleries, café, lounge, roof top allotments and sports amenities. It is a unique model which invites people of all generations, backgrounds and interests to participate in its open approach to all disciplines of art 3331 offers various programs which encompass people with disabilities, children, local residents, students, experts and those with a curiosity for the arts.
Tatsuhiko Murata (Co-Director, Youkobo Art Space)
The 12th General Meeting of Res Artis (*1), a worldwide network of artist residencies, was held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada for five days from October 6 (Wed.) to 10 (Sun.) in 2010. Under the theme of “The Americas: Independent Artistic Practices in the Era of Globalization,” a wide variety of AIR (artist-in-residence) programs were introduced and discussed, and topics focusing on the American continent including Latin America were highlighted.
The Res Artis general meeting was hosted by RCAAQ (Regroupement des centres d’artistes autogeres du Quebec), a Quebec-based organization that provides support to artist-led art-space activities across Canada. Canada has abundant artist-run organizations known for their very active programs, of which RCAAQ is a model.
The host city, Montreal, is Canada’s second largest city after Toronto. It has a population of about 3.7 million, and two thirds of its citizens speak French as their first language. Renowned as Canada’s leading cultural city, it is also home to Cirque du Soleil, which is currently touring Japan and other parts of the world.
The meeting took place across several venues. The main venue—a very interesting choice I must say—was Le Musée Juste pour Rire (The Just for Laughs Museum), which is, as its name suggests, the world’s only museum dedicated to comedies and humor.
So much for the introduction. The general meeting, led by Res Artis president, Mario Caro and the meeting’s executive committee chairperson, Bastien Gilbert (RCAAQ director) provided participants with the opportunity for mutual understanding, active exchange of opinions, and networking. More than 180 participants came from 20 countries across the world. The majority were from North America, followed by Europe. The rather small Asian representation included two organizations from Tokyo—Tokyo Wonder Site and Youkobo Art Space—and three organizations from Korea.
The next general meeting in 2012, scheduled to take place in Japan (Tokyo Wonder Site will be the host) looks forward to wider participation from Asian AIR organizations.
Michio Sugiyama (Section Chief of the Institute of Ceramic Studies, Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park)
As you may know, AIR (artist-in-residence) programs are not original to Japan. I understand them as one of support systems for art, which was introduced from the West. Wikipedia mentions that early residential programs already existed in the US by1900.
Prototypical Artist-in-Residence Programs
Approximately 18 years have passed since Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park adopted the imported system of artist residencies in the filed limited to ceramics. When the residency program was first implemented 20 years ago, the program was simply called “taizai-gata kobo” (workshop with residency) instead of “artist-in-residence” program, then. After several different names were applied to the program over the years, the term “artist-in-residence” has gradually taken root in Japan in the late 1990s.
In the rather unique environment of this pottery-manufacturing town, Shigaraki, artist residencies in a broader sense already existed substantially in the mid-1900s.
It is said that in older times, ceramic artists from Kyoto frequented Shigaraki’s yakiya (ceramic manufacturers). The artists would produce molds for products like flower vases for the yakiya, and in return were permitted to use the yakiya’s kilns to produce their own original works. The yakiya and ceramic artists had an informal, yet firm relationship. This system may be also regarded as a prototypical artist residency in the field of ceramics.