Artists’ web talk session with General director KITAGAWA Fram vol.6 “Online Photo Session?”
For the Vol. 6 of the series, we have invited Maleonn from China. He was planning to open his photo studio in Ushiku shopping street where local people and visitors could join in photo sessions. We have asked the artist what it has been like to spend time in China where the Coronavirus disease has had a significant impact on the society.
Ma Leonn, General Director KITAGAWA Fram
Director KITAGAWA Fram (Hereafter Director):
Mr. Maleonn, you came to Ichihara at an early time and started working on the project with the site and locals. Initially, you were planning to stay in Ichihara with other performers during the festival period, but everything had to stop due to the current condition of the world.
How have you been spending your time since then?
I am at my house in Shanghai right now. I was preparing to start working at the site in Ichihara from February this year. I had actually secured flights and visas for myself and my staff. And all I needed to do was to wait for the departure date. However, everything had to be paused due to the pandemic and we could not get to Ichihara after all.
I have been staying home since the end of February as all the events and work had to be paused. I was particularly worried about getting food and daily groceries as we could not leave our house.
It continued from February till mid-May, and everything finally resumed at the end of May.
Is it possible to travel between provinces in China now?
As long as you are traveling within China, yes we can. For instance, I have been to Shenzhen 2 weeks ago.How is it like in Japan?
Up until the end of May, we were requested not to go outside and would often work from home but it has become a bit more relaxed. It has been said that we could start moving between prefectures by the end of this month (as of June 2020). The main difference between Japan and China may be that we are only asked to “voluntarily” refrain from various activities and there is no penalty for not following the request.
Our lives are nonetheless different from before and we are not yet sure how it will be in the future.
While I think it is possible for you to come to Ichihara next year, it is difficult to do so right now.
I see. In Shanghai, we are still requested to wear a mask when going outside.
All the art festivals I am involved as a director have been postponed. While almost all the works for Ichihara ART×MIX are finished, remaining preparation has to stop for the time being.
I have seen your work in Ushiku shopping street, and I think many people would come to enjoy your work. We will take care of your work well.
I am hoping to visit Ichihara and complete my work next year for sure!
I remember we even discussed the possibility of organizing photo sessions with your instruction via remote communication.
It could have been an interesting try.
That is something I have never tried yet so it could be very interesting.
Could you tell us what you have been thinking about under these circumstances?
For the past few months, I did not have any chance of going outside and working on projects. All the connections I had with people from other countries including Japan were suspended, which made me feel quite pressured and worried.
Such frustration has heightened my desire to create something and motivated me to work on projects.
Recently, it finally became possible to resume a few projects so now I am working on them.
Do you have any new idea you want to try?
Well, now that I have many online meetings, I am considering a new project that features taking photos of what’s on screen, rather than taking a photo of things out there in the world.
It is essentially based on my experiences during the lockdown.
By the way, “An Exhibition of Modern Chinese Art on Paper” at Ichihara Lakeside Museum has re-opened recently.
That’s a good news. I am looking forward to coming back to Ichihara next year. I will be doing a lot of preparation to make my work even better.
Ichihara Art×Mix Committee:
People from Ushiku shopping street will be waiting for your coming back!
It had been unfortunate that I could not contact them during the pandemic. I too am looking forward to seeing them again!
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’
vol.5 ‘Time difference of 12 hours’