Hirokazu Tokuyama is curator at the Kyoto City University of Arts (KCUA) Art Gallery @KCUA, and his connection to Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy is through artistic director Suzanne Oxenaar, whom he met for the art project ‘Still Moving’.
The exhibition design of this art project was done by Jo Nagasaka, architect, designer and director of Schemata, Japan. In 2010, Nagasaka created the Llove Hotel Tokyo with us, and has remained involved ever since then.
What is the KCUA up to?
Tokuyama: "Within the next 10 years, KCUA plans to move to the Suujin Area, which has a great location next to Kyoto Station and is set in a stunning scenery. Yet, the area bears the stigma of issues such as the critical situation behind the rapid advance of depopulation, an aging society and the approaching need for community revitalization, however. Under these circumstances, KCUA’ s move creates an important nucleus of community creation.
As part of the city council’s plan to develop modernize the city, the Suujin area had to be transformed. But how? You need the arts to start thinking about what to do with this spot. That’s why the University of Arts got involved.
The city's purchased properties in the area have been fenced off, which gives it an eerie atmosphere and is not a pleasant sight for the remaining residents. So we initiated the ‘Still Moving’ exhibition, for ‘Parasophia’, an international festival of culture and arts in Kyoto.”
Can you tell a bit about the ‘Still Moving’ exhibition?
“We wanted to find out what is happening in Suujin, why it is being forced into community rehabilitation and give everyone a real-time experience doing so. ‘Still Moving’ centres around a former elementary school and its surrounding area in Suujin, where a number of art installations were made.
When were setting up the exhibition, we met Suzanne Oxenaar and Ina & Matt. They came up with the great idea to do a workshop with locals and children, ‘Happy Weeds’, in which a farm would be created inside the fence, with flowers from Holland. I just had news from my colleague yesterday that the first flower came out! Jo Nagasaka made a piece about the fence itself. The fence of course is a symbol of rejection; it is meant to keep people out. So Nagasaka wanted to make something to welcome the people. He made a bench of fence material, so people could sit.
The show was the first step of the KCUA into the area, and a great success with over 5000 visitors.
What is the reason you are visiting Amsterdam?
Tokuyama: “I am visiting the KunstRAI, various art institutions such as Mondriaan Fund, and will discuss a show of Dutch video artist Guido van der Werve. This will open next year. Our gallery is big enough to show 5 or 6 video works. I think Guido’s work is one of the best in terms of the performance. When I first saw his work, within a second I was smitten with it. This was piece Nr. 8 ‘Everything is going to be allright’, with a ship in the Arctic. You don’t have to understand anything of the background, the concept, the subject, to appreciate his imagination and poetry immediately.”
What is the art climate in Kyoto like?
Tokuyama: “There is a lively art scene in Kyoto, of artists and creatives. People are curious and enthusiastic about art. Even though Kyoto has a great climate for creating art, has not many facilities to show or sell it. There aren’t many good galleries of contemporary art. The University gallery has two curators, and we have a team of five people. We make two international exhibitions per year and two big exhibitions of Japanese art. The rest of the shows are relatively small and showcase young artists, students and professors of the University.
In this, I take my lead from art institutions in small cities like Milwaukee and The Hague”.
We wish him every luck in developing his curatorship at the Kyoto City University of Arts.