AirSpace Gallery and Tsukiyo to Syonen (Osaka, Japan) are working together to realise this ambitious project which forms a dialogue between artists in Japan and the UK, to explore the nature of artist-led activity in the two countries. The two organisations have strong visual arts programmes, but in addition, have shared interests in exploring the interface between art and environmental concerns, regeneration, development and citizenship. The ‘Indefinable Cities’ project provides an opportunity to form a dialogue around this area of practice, and creates a space for International Conversations around the role that artists may have in contributing to the development of healthy, happy cities and what it means to have a socially engaged practice as an artist.
Indefinable Cities features the works of 6 artists - 3 from the UK - Emily Speed, Ben Cove and Rebecca Chesney and 3 from Japan - Ayaka Nishi, Hirofumi Suzuki and Daiki Murakami. The exhibition will open at AirSpace Gallery and then move to Japan, where the works will be exhibited at 6 venues across the country.
AirSpace Gallery instigated the conversation with Tsukiyo to Syonen back in 2012, during a research visit to Osaka, where curator and artist Anna Francis was interested in exploring the differences in artist led activity in the two countries. AirSpace Gallery were keen to find a partner to work with on the ambitious Indefinable Cities Exhibition, which picks up from the first ‘Indefinable City’ exhibition held at AirSpace in 2007, where 11 artists explored the consequences and effects on humans of our changing cities. City development and the artists role within it have continued to be a research concern for AirSpace Gallery, since 2007. Many of the gallery’s projects have sought to form dialogues around the nature of culture-led regeneration, advocacy and support for artists in making a difference in the places they live and work, and the adoption and nurturing of disused spaces in cities, in particular, recently with a connection to green space growing projects.
The particular geography and social and economic context of Stoke-on-Trent means there are many empty spaces around the city – this includes buildings, brownfield sites and other undeveloped plots. This affords particular opportunities for temporary activity to take place, which questions and proposes future use, as space can be acquired cheaply, and sometimes freely. Osaka, as a city has much less available space, and the cost of space is high, making it very difficult to sustain arts programmes in urban spaces . For this reason Tsukiyo to Syonen no longer run a permanent gallery space in the city, preferring to work with temporary pop up spaces, allowing them to be more responsive and flexible to the needs of the projects they work on, and far reaching in their geographic scope. In recent years Tsukiyon to Syonen has held exhibition and concerts in Yamanishi, Ishikawa, Shiga, Okayama, Hiroshima and many other provincial towns. In addition, since the 2011 earthquake many artists have left the big cities, for more rural locations. Indefinable Cities Exhibition will tour to 6 cities in Japan between July and August 2015 - exploring how geographically distant places can be connected. Conversations instigated and taking place during the exhibition will explore the differences between the two countries, and the impact that this has on the way that artists work.