Artists’ web talk session with General director KITAGAWA Fram vol.3 ‘Beyond borders’
Having welcomed European participants from Russia and the Netherlands, the web session with General director KITAGAWA Fram has numbered 3.
This time, he has interviewed two artists, Sokari Douglas Camp and Mikala Dwyer. While it was 17:30 in Japan, the session was hosted with 7-8-hour time zone difference as Sokari was in London, 9:30 in the morning, and Mikala was in Melbourne, 18:30 in the afternoon.
Since they met in Ichihara, the friendship between the two artists seems to have grown and the interview was held in a relaxing mood.
General Director KITAGAWA Fram (Hereafter Director):
When Ichihara Art Mix was decided to be postponed for a year, you two already had finished production in Japan. After you went back home, the government of Japan declared the state of emergency and we were requested to stay home. At this moment we all are going through the same situation all over the world, which might have not happened since the World War 2.
First of all, what do you do lately, Sokari?
Sokari Douglas Camp (Hereafter Sokari):
Since we are allowed to go out for an hour, I am doing exercises lately.
My routine is basically the same. I am trying to treat the life as normal, but it is forced to change somehow. For example, I cannot go out for a drink or meet strangers.
In terms of my work, I try to create more useful things, rather than make art for art’s sake. My idea of useful is very art-based I would say, so it might be different from what can be expected.
I heard you are making pieces of furniture as ‘useful objects’.
How is it like in London right now?
If you go out very early, the city looks very empty, which is very unusual to me.
In the early morning there are a lot of birds in the trees, and I have been watching a family of birds growing from my window.
As for my work, I would say I am still functioning but the activity is yet limited. Nevertheless, I do meet people including delivery person who came to pick up my works the other day. I got my works picked up for an exhibition in Germany.
Since I still cannot to buy steels that I usually use, I have to work with the material that left in my studio. It is also the case with my daily life, that I am eating out of my stock in the freezer.
How about you, Mikala?
Mikal Dwyer (Hereafter Mikala):
I am working in the university and it has been quite busy.
Before coming to Ichihara, there was a huge bushfire in Australia and, soon after coming back to Australia from Ichihara, we went straight into isolation. So I feel like we have been in crisis for six months.
As for my job as a professor, massive moving to digital teaching is quite intense and has been very stressful. But my students are not having such a great time either and I am worried about them as they all stuck in shared flats/accommodations.
As this is one of a few ways to go outside, we are becoming kind of obsessed with going for a walk in the park and birds.
Since we have the group studio that had to be closed, I have not had an access to my studio.
I have started filming dances and now I already have come up with 15 of them.
On a state level, all the state borders are closed and, while it has been effective, we are still not allowed to move to other states. We have only just been allowed in the last couple of days to see up-to 5 congregated people. My students might be able to come back to school in the next semester.
While Japanese universities are gradually shifting toward online lectures, it is difficult for students in art universities to fully adapt to digital teaching. Hence, rather than focusing on universities, they have to work on their projects by themselves and take this time to reflect on some ideas.
I have heard that Sokari has joined Mikala’s lecture the other day. What was it like?
When we were in Ichihara, we stayed in the same hotel and became friends as we had many breakfast together.
And we have got to look at our works to know each other well.
Since Australia is too far away and it is expensive to get to, there are not many chances for Australians to experience international conversation.
So, to use this online world to create more access to international conversation for my students, I have asked Sokari to do a talk for them.
As the latest I can go with the class is 5PM and it was too early in the morning for Sokari, I showed her pre-recorded presentation during the lecture.
Later on the same day, we set up casual session with drinks to have live chat with Sokari. It went quite wonderful and students are still talking about it. What I think students loved about it was just this informal conversation and her honest and candid approach to her work.
We sometimes think a lot of online conversations are slick, but this time round, I feel it was quite close to human interaction.
How did you find the lecture, Sokari?
Mikala prepared well before hand, so it went very smoothly. (Mikala: The lecture I had on the next week was a total disaster [laughter])
It was a useful tool to see the artists, not to listen to. Since we are visual artists, it is very important to be able to show images. Also, I found it very interesting to have a real-time conversation between two distant places, like London and Melbourne.
It will also be very nice if I have an opportunity to have a talk with art students in Tokyo, about what we experienced in Ichihara and how it influenced the work back home.
Do you have any plans to do in the near future?
I am thinking of making more pieces of furniture.
I know that some people might feel shy in front of my large sculptures, so I thought small furniture might be a key to introduce my statement into their houses.
This time of the virus outbreak made me realize how wonderful and beautiful the nature is, and I would like to continue dealing with it.
What about you, Mikala?
It feels more important to me to listen to other things I can do at the moment rather than to force the way I always work into this situation.
Recently, I have been filming pigeons every day because I got interested in them. My husband, David, is working on to turn tapping sound pigeons make when they, for instance, eat bird seeds into music score.
Together, we are planning to make a pigeon movie.
I am looking forward to seeing your new pieces.
Artists’ web talk session with General director KITAGAWA Fram
vol.1 ‘Hope artists have in the midst of the coronavirus disease outbreak’
vol.2 ‘Communication between two distant places’
vol.3 ‘Beyond borders’
vol.4 ‘Small changes in the daily life of the artist’