Curator and program manager Yuki Kondo from TOKAS (Tokyo Arts and Space) visited us in Rovaniemi, Oulu and Ii.
Her visiting program included studio visits, exhibitions and discussions with artist-in-residency network of Northern Finland.
“The invitation of WARIA gave me the great opportunity to visit galleries and studios in Northern Finland. It was a research trip with exploring future collaboration possibilities.
Before working as a program director of “Tokyo Arts and Space” that conducts a gallery and residency program, I was a curator of the art center of Aomori city which is the northern part of Japan. It is an art center that main program is the artist in residence program, and I supported artist’s research for the local topics sometimes. Therefore I considered about regional characteristics or “site” through their artistic activities, and I was thinking consciously about the regionality of the north and how we should conduct contemporary art program at the rural area.
I started my research by visiting the Museum of Rovaniemi. I thought that it was important to have a basic knowledge about life, history and tradition of Northern Finland to understand contemporary art that was reflected consciously and unconsciously by keen awareness of history or problems of this world. In Northern Finland, I was able to touch a part of its unique characteristic and its depth of culture in local environment and forest. It seemed different from the “Europe” that East Asian has vaguely experienced. In the Museum of Rovaniemi, I was able to find shared consciousness and issues such as place as a periphery, culture and history different from the center, and problems specific to the “north”.
On the other hand, the situation of artists and art activities was very different from Japan. In case of Japanese contemporary artists, they mostly have studios in the suburbs of Tokyo and around the big cities, and it is difficult to run its studio and work as a contemporary artist at the rural area. In Finland, I met many interesting artists who set up studios 800km away from Helsinki and make a living, although many art centers and studios concentrate in Helsinki. It was a very interesting difference. It is not only about art, but also it is the difference in current social situation or in disparity of the local cities between Finland and Japan.
At the talk event, Kaisa pointed out that Lapland had few AIR facilities compared to the southern region. But I could imagine that there would be many foreign artists who have interests in its local resources of this site and would like to produce artwork here, and the artistic community and its cultural background here would be able to promote its exchange. For the contemporary art, it is important to know and discuss about worldwide issues, but mostly we are living one place as one person. We have to know this “one place” is various. The exchange through the art including life and surrounding situation with discussion about its difference and commonality should be an effective means to know each other in this mobility era from the viewpoint of humanity. It is still a vague idea, but anyway, it was a thoughtful stay for me.”
Program Director of Tokyo Arts and Space