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the Feedback from 2017 Resident Artists!

Two months after the end of my residency I look back on a period of great learning and great challenges. The time at ARCUS Project was both beautiful and difficult. ARCUS Project staff outgrew my expectations and definitions of kindness and friendliness, and also of commitment and professionalism. Amazing work from all the staff to support us and our projects and the work was always accompanied by a certain human warmth and devotion that can only be found at the ARCUS Project community; staff and supporters always concerned, attentive, kind.

Having said that about the individuals involved I must give a constructive criticism: it was very difficult to share living space and budget amongst a duo. We were warned before and we agreed, please note that I am aware of this. I suppose it was naive and well intentioned from both sides -institution and us artist- to believe, or hope, that it would all work out and that we could adapt and work with the circumstances. And I am happy we did, for what was the other option? To reject the invitation? Never. I am so happy about the time and experience at ARCUS Project. However, it is very important that next time that a duo is invited to the residency the conditions are better, for the sake and health of the project and the artist. I understand that ARCUS Project works on a very limited budget, and makes wonderful things with little money, but if there is no bigger budget to assign to a 4th artist perhaps the initial budget should be divided by 4 instead of by 3. The two other artists/projects will still be able to live and work well while the 4th artist will have the means necessary to work and live for the residency period. It was much harder that expected to share the living space and budget with Sarah. This is not your fault. I believe it not ours either. This happened because we where the first duo case, some sot of ginny pigs, but now we all know that next time things must be different, for the sake of the future residents.

The amount of help and interest that we got regarding our project was more that one could wish for. The experience of Japan in general has been one of the most enriching I have ever had. I will always be great full for the opportunity to unlearn and question certain things that I 'knew' or thought I knew. I believe that my time at ARCUS Project has greatly helped me to obtain a more layered, comprehensive and informed understanding of the world(s) we make and inhabit in this complex global times.

Infinite thanks to Yumiko San, Aruma San, Mizuho San and Ryota San, your kindness, patience and intelligence makes the world a better place.

An invitation to a residency at ARCUS Project is one of those rare opportunities in life one does not refuse.

ARCUS Project offers the possibility for artists to develop work, research and experiment without any pressure as no finished work at the end is required. The isolation of Moriya takes a while to get used to, but the studios and the wonderful ARCUS Project staff made it truly worth it. Tokyo is not far out, but distant enough to not go on a whim, which enhances the isolation and the focus on the research. Visiting other worlds makes one grow, and my stay in Japan was educational on many levels. The project would not have been realized without the unwavering commitment of the ARCUS Project quartet. As we were trying to research the local Tone river, the ARCUS Project coordinators helped us to find river experts, geographers, local people that live with the river, boatsmen and mapmakers and consequently translated this mountain of information into English. The project felt more like a collective undertaking as we also produced and updated the text for the performance together. Furthermore, the ARCUS Supporters and local Moriya communities brought light (and sandwiches) in darker days.

On a less rosy note: the required focus was immensely hard to maintain because of the living conditions where we had to share a small room with one single bed. ARCUS Project staff surely checked with us beforehand whether we would be okay with this and we honestly assumed it would work. The budget is ample as an individual stipend, but it was far from enough for two people. It is important to point this out so that the next duo will be able to live and work in more comfortable circumstances.

I miss hanging out at Manabi-no-sato, drinking barley tea with koala bears, the sun on my face and the hum of elusive sounds in the background. It was a good experience and a true privilege to be able to work and think in this place in the world.


I had a special connection with Japan ever since I discovered the samurai warriors and katana swords. It is hard to point a clear reason why I was attracted to this country, but it is possible that it originates in my interest towards the Edo period Japan. What is certain is that I bought a katana when I was 19 years old, after having previously discovered Kurosawa's movies (when I was around 15-16). Rashomon left me wondering on how individuals can interpret a fact, an event, and how they can craft a truth out of it. Truth is a variable, forever subjective, since we are all subjects of our own subjectivities. I crafted my own truth of Japan based on jigsaw puzzle pieces that found their way into my pockets from the television and from magazines. I picked up most of the jigsaw pieces from Sailor Moon, sumo fights, documentary films, an album about the Shinto shrines, Manga comics, Candy, Miyamoto Musashi and the revenge of the 47 Ronin. I was so certain that I owned a large jigsaw puzzle picture, both sharp and in high definition, of what Japan was. This happened because I was blindly passionate about certain elements that found their way towards me half the world away. I made the mistake of thinking that I am a know-it-all.

After having experienced Moriya, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Chiba, Fuji, the Pacific and the loud silence of the temples I can say that I don't have a clue of what Japan is about. I realized that I knew nothing about Japan. Now I find myself in the very privileged position of having to get to know very little of it. I am humbled and deeply thankful towards the ones that aided me throughout my journey, people that I can call now friends.

As I am writing these lines that are meant to summarise my thoughts about ARCUS Project and Japan in general, a conversation that I had with Curtis comes to my mind. We talked about how it must feel to be Japanese: how can it feel to wake up every morning knowing that it can be your last. Even though this existential fear is deeply rooted in every individual, there are good reasons for that fear to be contouring a certain Japanese mentality. There are around 1500 earthquakes per year on the Japanese islands and countless tremors every day. I want to think that Japan is a country full of brave people - that inside their hearts are always prepared for the worst, in a silent awaiting of the inevitable. For people living outside areas in which nature tests its inhabitants, it might prove a shock to be prepared to lose all that you have in an instant. To wake up with that thought well hid under your grey matter blanket is something that most of us could not easily accept. Japan will always remain in my memory as sounds, smells, tastes, highs and lows. Not so many images, though. I tend to lose the images quite quickly. I felt I was alive on Fuji and I managed to recuperate my faith in swimming while doing it in the Pacific. Japan tested me, as it most likely does with anyone crossing it.

Thank you, Ken san, Yumiko, Ryota, Aruma, Mizuho, Kaname san and to the many others that were willing to share their kindness with the participants to your artist in residence program.


For me the value of participating in this 25-year-old residency, one of the oldest in Japan, is that it functioned as a platform for intensive relational intimacy with people and places I would have never been able to access otherwise. Without the infrastructure of ARCUS Project as a residency, and the thoughtfulness of each coordinator's contribution to my own work, this project simply would not have been possible; they provided unique connections, and broadened the spectrum of my work while in Japan through each of their own creative backgrounds and cultural histories. The residency allowed me to work at a scale beyond my own capacity, thereby stretching and influencing my own perspectives and abilities as a searcher and creative practitioner.

There is a powerful residue; a textured and palpable sense that what I began there will continue onward.

I witnessed a striking thoroughness to all of the ARCUS Project coordinators sensibilities and sensitivities; they are tenaciously present. My rhizomatic pursuits were facilitated, unquestioned, from beginning to end without missing a beat; from working with the local choral group, holding conversations with seismic scientists, to conducting research at Universities in Tokyo and museums in Kyoto, as well as traveling to rural Aomori to record the chanting of Japanese Shamans, ARCUS Project coordinators put in substantial amounts of time and energy helping me achieve my goals. For a brief moment, Moriya became a home, and ARCUS Project, an extended family.


by arcus4moriya | 2018-03-01 13:00 | AIR_2017
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