Took time out on the weekend to visit Tokyo and see the Spiral Independent Creators Festival #15 at the Spiral building in Omotesando. I saw the A Group on both Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon, when I introduced the event to Melbourne artist Peter Burke who has recently started a residency at Youkobo art space.
SICF is an annual event across 4 days where 50 exhibitors have a booth in the Spiral hall for two days each. It is held across the Golden Week long weekend. It is a curated event, and while there are no restrictions, age-wise or medium-wise on applicants, most of the exhibitors were contemporary artists in their 20's. There were some excellent installations and wonderful exhibitions of work in a huge range of media from oil on canvas, wood carving, silk screen fabric, through to digital media, mixed media and paintings made from make-up. The standard of works and their presentation were high. In keeping with events Japanese, the presence of the exhibitors was required full-time. They could be identified by the booth number on a tag around their neck. About half were fluent in English. On the afternoon of the second day, I asked a few how they were feeling. Much rubbing of legs and wincing, one exhibitor told me he had been on his feet 12 hours straight the day before. The circulation space is narrow and the booths are predictably small (1.65m x 1.65m and 2.4m tall). There is no room for anyone to sit down unless your performative installation cleverly involves people sitting down as one booth did. There are a generous number of tables and chairs and a small bar in the foyer however.
What I liked about the SICF was the opportunity to see a well curated group exhibition (there were very few weak spots) in a smaller venue that is easy to access. (Omotesando B1 exit) The very idea of schlepping down to Odaiba for the bigger and better known Design Festas leaves me feeling exhausted. There were other exhibitions well worth looking at in the building as well, including the graduate exhibition of Finnish sound designers. Speaking to the artists, they were happy with the level of exposure the SICF was providing with many curators and gallerists attending and making contact. As for myself, though nothing would be so much fun as to festoon a booth with knitting or haiku or to hang a small installation of paintings, I very much doubt, as a suddenly greying GenXer, that my feet could do the yakka of standing all day, and standing all day while talking and engaging and chatting and etc. etc. etc. The net has made me soft!
Anyway, should the idea of standing all weekend in Omotesando not freak you out, the applications for SICF 16 should open in November. Check the Spiral site.