Hello from Chim↑Pom.
Congratulations on the grand opening of ANOMALY!
“Grand Opening!” Sounds like the caption on an ad for the opening of a new store that is incredibly lavish, or blurb often appearing in press releases for some community redevelopment project oozing promises of happiness. Just how much capacity does the opening of the “Grand Opening!” have?! We can’t wait to see. As a commercial gallery on whose shoulders the fortunes of contemporary Japanese art rest, we earnestly hope ANOMALY will aim for capacity for a truly deep humanity as opposed to capacity for “everyone in general” that is the mission of public space, museums, art festivals, and other venues these days!
It is apparently not always okay to open things to everyone. Here’s one example. The word is that, lately, “parks” are gradually being privatized. There was an artist who raised his voice in protest.
“They’re taking the ‘kou’ out of ‘kou-en’!” (Note: “Kou” is the Japanese word for “public,” and “kou-en,” for “park.”)
It was our pal, Osamu Matsuda. Despite being an ill-bred creep from a slummy neighborhood, he somehow got the reckless idea of eating lunch in the park, of all things, and reportedly sat on a bench and dug into a box lunch he made himself. I guess he didn’t know his place, as they say. He told us that, sure enough, someone who saw him eating lunch there called the police to inform them of the fact, complaining that his presence “discourages people from entering the park.”LOL.
That’s what got him all upset and yelling “What about ‘public’!” with the help of a little alcohol. When we heard the story in more detail, it turns out he showed up in the park in his pajamas looking like a slob, his hair still mussed up from sleeping, in the middle of the day to eat a lunch he had made and brought along. The incident does make one feel a little sorry for the cop who was put to the trouble of going over there, but there is still definitely some sense in Matsuda’s rant. In Ueno Park as well, the old food stalls are substituted by Starbucks, and come to think of it, the line between public and majority is being blurred anyway.
While the subject is not exactly easy to raise in front of Warehouse Terrada, which is leading the urban development in the Tennozu district, and ANOMALY as one of its tenants, isn’t art too just as guilty in the final analysis? Putting aside the question of whether or not there is a direct connection with Tennozu, the trend of gentrification that is kicking grubby artists like Matsuda, for example, out of the community is becoming a big issue on today’s art scene.
To go further, even on the side of the players driving up land prices, meaning the real estate companies that are chasing Matsuda away, there are artists, ironically enough! Right, in this case, for instance, it would be Chim↑Pom, who are doing the honors for the official opening of Anomaly.LOL. What a mystifying business!
I mean, in short, the members of Chim↑Pom are each as hopeless as Matsuda. Being stopped and questioned by the police for two hours is nothing unusual for us. Once when the cops stopped the Chim↑Pom truck, they went over the weird gear on the bed as if suspecting we used it as tools for murders or burglaries (true story).
And yet, maybe that’s the nature of artists to begin with, and maybe we can swing to individual extremes anyway as scum-like existences who are given all sorts of breaks thanks to empty expectations. The question of just what they are becoming tangled up in makes us worried about our own fate.
For example, in a city where art has completely blended in, developers commission street artists to put their works on walls, and media artists involved in public projects for some reason feel as if they are representing Japan and have a responsibility to the nation. And almost all contemporary artists seem overjoyed to get a position to add an illustration for a curated exhibition or an art fair. The next thing you know, they are up on the TED stage making a spiel about their achievements as responsible adults, the meaning of art, and their pet thesis (LOL). What else can you expect, like, we are not in the age of antithesis today, right? And the more this talk goes on, the more it also gladdens the many people who want to get rid of the unproductive scum. And then they bubble about “win-win” relations with each other. Makes no sense to us.
Public and individual. Boxes and people. After a succession of projects we did while pondering urban theory, we have come full circle and somehow wound up captivated by the nuances of the individual. We concluded that an interesting public would be impossible without interesting individuals. To make a wild claim, this also applies to the road we built at Kitakore Building last year. There is a bar in the same building, and people threw up on the road just about every night. Thanks to them, the road got broken in! Okay, we realize this absurd esthetics about a private road is definitely not going to gain a lot of support, but still…
The point is that there won’t be any room for this kind of goofing around in venues being opened by public entities in partnership with the private sector. That’s because, at base, they will be for the use of “the grand mass of consumers.” Meanwhile, every last one of the homeless and activists, in other words, the real principals concerned, will be given eviction notices. No demonstrations, fear of terrorism, and of course no incorrigible women like Ellie who take pisses by the side of the road and won’t listen.
On the streets of Tokyo, where renewal has become the default selection, you can hear the cries of “Grand Opening” all over. In spite of their invitations, we instead want to do more thinking about the nature of “grand opening” that is genuinely open as all hell, and to make plans for its grand opening.