Shift Operation : Tokyo Workflow

installation + project at Cave Gallery, Tokyo (JP), 2020
Open Studio: 7 february - 1 march 2020                                      
Exhibition: 6 - 15 March 2020 


Shift Operation is a series of projects in which Maarten Schuurman and I research the micropolitics of space. We focus on the relationship between the creative process of individuals and groups in relation to the space required for this. The development and exchange of ideas about work processes and forms of cooperation are central. The name Shift Operation refers to the industrial production process that involves shift work. We use the idea of shift work as a basic structure for Shift Operation.
   The background for Shift Operation is our own professional practice as an artist and the questions we ask ourselves. This is often focused on individual production and presentation within the current art system. However, we also have a need to talk about work, to share experience and even to develop ideas and make work together. Different interests, knowledge and skills are brought together in a collaboration. However, good cooperation is more than the sum of everyone's input. The added value often lies in the space between individual knowledge and expertise, in the exchange of ideas and dialogue.
   Shift Operation developed as a series of projects taking place at different locations with different groups of artists. We invite local artists from various disciplines to form a temporary artists' community together with us. Each version therefore has its own dynamics, process and outcome. For this we use the installation as a working form. Within each new location, the installation forms an autonomous space with its own working method and rules.
   In 2016 the first Shift Operation took place at Paleis van Mieris in Amsterdam: Shift Operation : membraned city.
Tokyo workflow

After a studio visit by Ayumi Suzuki from Cave Gallery in Tokyo (JP) we were invited for an artist-in-residence period of three months. Cave Gallery and the artist-in-residence's apartment are located in Kagurazaka, Shinjuku, in central Tokyo. The gallery / project space mainly presents art with a connection to architecture or in situ work. Ayumi Suzuki asked us to realize a new edition in the Shift Operation series.
   This edition of Shift Operation focused on collaboration and the use of a shared space. The goal was to set up a temporary artist community in Tokyo with local artists. To this end, we created a dynamic environment to stimulate collaboration and communication. We built an installation analogous to the industrial workflow, complete with conveyor belts and mobile workstations. The installation turned the gallery space into a workshop for ten artists.
   On January 1, 2020 at 7 AM our residency started with the arrival at the airport in Tokyo. The first days we immediately started with the construction of the installation. In the first edition of the project in Amsterdam in 2016 we chose to make the installation from cardboard. We used this flexibile and easy to find material again in Tokyo and filled te space with conveyor belts using cardboard rolls obtained from textile stores in Nippori Textile Town and from printers located near the gallery. The cardboard we used for the walls and other elements also came from the area. Twice a week it was recycle day and all shops placed their cardboard neatly folded and tied together on the side of the road. We made collages of cardboard boxes to wrap the walls of the white gallery space.
   Before we left for Japan, we had already started looking for artists who would want to participate in our project. For this we had issued an open call. Unfortunately, it turned out that this did not work in Japan and no one had registered except a number of Europeans. It required a more personal approach. A open ended project in which collaboration is central turned out to be unusual in Japan. However, through the Dutch Embassy in Tokyo we came into contact with Nick West, an English artist living in Tokyo. He asked us to give a presentation at Artist Talks, a monthly international meeting in Shimokitazawa. During this presentation we found one of our participating artists.
   In addition, we were advised to go to the upcoming graduation shows of the academies as an opportunity to find freshly graduated artists for our project. We visited three art academies in the center of Tokyo and in the green suburbs of the megapolis. The academies all have beautiful technical facilities and pay a lot of attention to materials and technology. Among the thousands of students we found a number of spatially working artists who dared to experiment. Four of them wanted to participate in our project. During an opening and via via we met three other artists who also liked to join. This made our final community:
Asayo Yamamoto, Mio Hanaoka, Soda Noriyasu, Rie Shinno, Yui Nagashima, Jin Yeowool, Shiori Ukishima and Thomas Gillant.
In February we started working with this group of eight artists in our self-built workshop. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday we held open studio days that were also open to the public. In the first week everyone still had to get used to each other, the workplace and the public that came by. Still, from day one hard work was done on individual works and on parts for others to use. To kick-start the collaboration, we initiated collaborative works and "building games", where elements were added to a work in turn. In the last week, we brought all the separate elements together in a "gesamtkunstwerk". Despite translation problems and cultural differences, a real group with its own group dynamics started to emerge within a month. There was a lot of dedication of all local artists and a great willingness to share materials and space.
   The working period ended with an exhibition in which the workspace was presented as an installation together with the "gesamtkunstwerk" that we made together with the artists. Unfortunately, the corana virus had reached Japan and many events were canceled. Therefore a side programming could not take place, but many visitors still came to the exhibition. In April 2020 an article with an interview about the project was published in the international online art magazine CoBo Social.
The residency was made possible by the Gerbrandy Cultuurfonds Foundation and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Japan.
Poster design by: Michiel Schuurman
Special thanks to: Ayumi Suzuki, Bas Valckx, Kim Dang, Jaime Humpreys, Nick West, Misato ‘Arichan’ Ishitani, 要藤商店 textile, (株)教文堂 printing

「シフトオペレーション」は、エスター・ブラ-ケンホフとマーティン・シューマンによってシリーズ化したプロジェクトで、実践的なアート活動に基づいて、ミクロ・ポリティクス※1をリサーチ、研究する目的があります。作業プロセスと共同体のフォーマットに関してのアイデアをやり取りし、発展させて行く活動が中心です。「シフトオペレーション」という名前は、勤務交代を伴う製造業の製作過程を指しています。私たちは、この交代制の考え方を「シフトオペレーション」の基本構造としました。さまざまな分野のアーティスト達をこのプロジェクトに招待し、私たちと一緒に、一時的なアーティスト・コミュニティを形成します。「シフトオペレーション」のシリーズの背景には、アーティストとしての私たち個人のプラクティスがあり、そしてこれは、私たち自身に問うている問題でもあります。現在のアート界のシステムでは、多くの場合、個人的な制作とプレゼンテーションに焦点が当てられますが 、仕事について話し合い、経験を共有し、アイデアを発展させ、一緒に仕事をする必要もあるのだ、と私たちは考えます。さまざまな興味、知識、スキルが共同作業によって繋げられ、良好な協力関係は、皆が入力したものの合計以上をもたらすものです。付加価値は、多くの場合、個々の知識と専門技能の間のスペース、または、アイデアのやり取りと対話の中に見出されます。
「シフトオペレーション」は、それぞれ異なるアーティストグループと場所で行われる、プロジェクト・シリーズです。したがって、各回に、独自の原動力、プロセス、および結果が生まれることになります。インスタレーションは、仕事をするためのフォームとして使われ、それぞれの場との出会いから、独自の作業方法とルールを持つ、自律した空間を成立させます 。その発展の過程を見せるため、このインスタレーションは、一般公開されます。テンポラリーのプレゼンテーションやイベントの開催もプロジェクトの一部です。
※1ミクロ・ポリティクス: 小さな範囲の組織内で目標を達成するための、個人およびグループによる力の使用。マクロ・ポリティクスの対照語。
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