I need to point out a residency is not usually what people think it is. There are a lot of little moments creating a whole episode in the book of experiences everyone has inside. We can just read it in our minds one time and another and invent it in a different way each time.
However, this collection of little moments usually have names, surnames, places, tastes, sounds, smells, details that, in a way, becomes part of our imaginarium as artists. For good or bad there is life knowledge on it, and therefore, art knowledge.
I wont say what I remember of Japan or what I cherish on me because there were so many things. In a personal way, I was looking hardly to unfold a whole new stage on the develop of my practice, and I needed support to achieve some skills, knowledge to fill some knowledge holes, the experience of the radical otherness to understand my own context, support, faith and time for creation. I found all those elements on ARCUS, and beyond that, I found great friends and so great people.
A month after returning home, I can’t help but feel that there were opportunities missed, and work left undone during my residency. I think this is a good, because I feel that there are more works to develop, with plenty of room for explorations, and I look forward in undertaking this task with a renewed conviction in my work and abilities. This, I think is the most important outcome from my time in Moriya.
This positive experience is largely due to the generosity and cooperation from the local citizens, because my residency project revolves around telling stories from Moriya and/or Japan that overlaps with my experience in Malaysia. I am thankful that my presence and project was embraced without prejudice, but is nurtured with curiosity and a willingness to help. So to those who have played a part in my project, my deepest gratitude for your kindness, time and stories.
As an extension of my residency project, I will share with you a story I heard while I was there.
I was told, and will now paraphrase, an anecdote about ARCUS Project. About 30 years ago, there was a gathering of city mayors. When asked the question of which city would welcome the responsibilities to fund and host an artist residency, only one hand was raised, and with that simple act an important institution is born. I hope ARCUS Project will not only continue to flourish and provide a sanctuary for artists to dream and grow, but also continue to reflect and renew itself as an art institution and remain in the forefront of artistic endeavors. We must never forget, it is with courage, imagination and a willingness to act, that a project called ARCUS Project exists.
Thank you Moriya and ARCUS Project. Long live friendship and long live art.
I was looking for an opportunity to experiment with the idea that challenges my previous practice and requires a research rather than a production. Not many art/cultural institutions, I personally think, actively encourage an emerging artist to pursue such work. ARCUS Project, however, clearly stresses in their application guide that they are willing to support such art work that would need to be developed and challenged, seeking to exhibit working process. Yet it does not mean that they are reluctant to have a resident artist who wishes to focus on a production rather than a work in progress. This is actually what I find most interesting at ARCUS Artist-in Residency: they do not require any specific way of working, solely backing what the resident artists wish to do, even if they are not familiar with a way of working and a method the artist brings to the studio. And the residency begins with a discussion to get familiar with, exploring them. In this regard, it is inevitable to have a close relationship between the artists and the ARCUS team, which makes the programme very unique.
During my 110 days residence at ARCUS Project, I was able to pursue my idea and research plan with great support. It was also possible because of their financial support that is from the city of Moriya, a small town 40 mins away from Tokyo metropolitan by train. This means that the people living in Moriya are both directly and indirectly involved in ARCUS Project as well, not only the people from ARCUS Studio and a city hall but also the residents in Moriya. In the beginning, I thought about what I could rather directly contribute to the city because of the relationship between ARCUS Studio and the city, even though I was not asked for. It turned out, however, that my concern was unnecessary when I found out that the people are willing to know about what I want to bring to this specific place and time without a certain expectation. Many of them showed great interest in my research, even though they are not familiar with, and heartily supported my way of working in different ways. They were ready to be excited with what the resident artists would pursue. I now think that it was not about the thought that I, as an artist, should contribute to the community through my work of art as a sort of exchange, which is rather self-centred. Instead, they appreciated the challenge of creating a dialogue from artists, the approaches to different ways of involvement became an important matter.
My research-based work dealt with Japanese avant-garde and art history which is strongly connected with the art history of the mainstream as well as of Korea. In many aspects, it has been limited to talk over a relationship between Japan and Korea due to the history they share and most of all, a nationalistic view in politic they both have continued to have. It was my another challenge to think of in what way I approach to the complicating issue, and I wondered how people I met in Japan would react to it. Moreover, I needed to meet many people out of blue, including art professionals, for my investigation. It was my first experience as an artist that a team in a programme of Artist-in Residency is highly involved in my work by arranging meetings, being my company for the meetings and co-organizing several events of my work. The team has a job title of “coordinator” that I was not familiar with and still do not know how to define, but the ARCUS team and I were working together in many different ways and they greatly supported my research.
Supporters—anyone can volunteer to support the residents artists of ARCUS Project—often impressed me with active communication. I would say that they are not just supporters but participants of the work, which made an interesting dialogue between artists and their neighbours without intentionally organizing a community-based event. On the other hand, as ARCUS Project is one of the oldest and established Artist-in-Residency programmes in Japan, I could take advantage of their network all over in Japan, which was a great help for my research work in the end—many of art professionals/art institutions that I contacted or met have a good relationship with ARCUS Project or are in partnership with. From these experiences, I tremendously learned how to ‘work together’ and share ideas within my practice. This was a core concern of my research work that I developed at ARCUS Project as well. I feel the experiences as organic, as a practice that I will attempt to develop further. They encouraged me to come up with different approaches to dialogue between art and society. I sincerely appreciate for great support of ARCUS Studio, Moriya and participants who gave me some insight into such dialogue.