Without a doubt, this year has been lacking in substantial blog posts as compared to other years. I am going to try and make amends for it as the end of the year approaches. I would also like to get my increasing unmanageable pile of postcards under control. Three more months to go, so let’s see how it goes.
I spent last Friday and Saturday up in Gunma prefecture for a two day orientation for the 2017 Nakanojo Biennale. The experience along with what lies ahead of me in the next month or so has motivated me to get back to posting. In addition, November is just around the corner, so this is a good warm up for National Blog Post Month (for those of us who accept that a novel is out of our reach).
When I submitted my application for the 2017 Nakanojo Biennale back in August, I was asked to submit some basic information along with a link to my portfolio i.e. website. Upon being accepted as one of the participating artists, a two day visit was scheduled during this past weekend to take a look at the over 40 possible locations to install work for the art festival.
Getting up early on Friday morning to catch several trains, I made it Nakanojo Station about two hours after leaving my apartment. During the week leading up to the orientation, I started to think about how I needed to have some idea of what I was going to do. Having never been up to Nakanojo or the art festival, I was at a bit of a loss and settled on focusing on my Memory Walks Project.
The first part of Friday was spent in the Shima Onsen area where we looked at spaces indoors and outdoors. I found two foot bath stations where I started to think about the feasibility of hanging my Memory Walk drawings. After leaving the onsen area, we walked through a narrow street with storefronts that were mostly unused. There were a few quirky spaces as well as traditional Japanese rooms with tatami mats. At one of the last buildings we looked at before lunch, Nakaya, I found an dark and dank corridor on the ground floor which had an interesting light and maybe some potential.
After a quick break for lunch we headed over to an elementary school in Sawatari and that is where I found an even more compelling space.
The way the light fell on the space got me excited. However, being in the corridor area, the space was not necessarily made for hanging or installing things from above. Still, I really liked the light and how it contrasted with the rest of the space.
After the elementary school, we headed to the Sawatari Onsen Area to look at some potential buildings for exhibitions. During that part of the tour, I got to talking with several staff members for the art festival and they asked if I had found any spaces and what kind of work I was thinking about. I mentioned that I had some possibilities in mind for my Memory Walks Project. It turns out that the staff were more interested in my drawings that I have been making for the last year or so. At this point, I had to start to rethink my approach to picking a space.
I had been focused on spaces that would suit my Memory Walks Project, but if the interest from the staff was not the Memory Walks Project, but rather the drawings, well, I had better do some reconsideration. I took some comfort knowing that I could also use the classrooms at the elementary school as a space for drawings.
I also started to think that I might have to some more thinking about how I might find overlap with the everyday drawings and the Memory Walks drawings. In any case, I changed my focus and started to think “drawings”. I also started to get pangs of doubt as I am not nearly as clear on the vision and ideas I have for these drawings. They come out of an intuitive place and certainly they are informed by other aspects of my practice, but I still need to delve deeper into those ideas.I found my first possible space applicable for drawings at a gallery-like space with window store front and back.I was looking for a space that might create a dialogue with my work, but I needed to keep my options open. After a few other buildings, we hopped back on the bus and I found an interesting location inside a combination restaurant / rest house.We headed over to the Kuni Area for the last stop of the day. By this time, the early departure from Tokyo and sheer number of spaces and possibilities got the better of me. I did look at each space, but nothing struck me as ideal for my work, so I ended day one of orientation with these possibilities.In reality, I ended the first day with almost ten possibilities, but I have spent the last couple days whittling down the possibilities based on location, amount of renovation required, and what still resonates after several days.I will share my adventures for Day 2 tomorrow as well as try catching you all up on the other activities happening before the end of this year. Lots of planning and idea making, so I think returning to this blog is a good thing.