An exhibition program will be held in the fall of 2023 in which a total of 22 individuals and groups of artists active in six cities in East Asia and Southeast Asia, the Tohoku region of Japan, and Koganecho in Yokohama will participate. The starting point of this program was thinking about being active in local cities (local areas) and the challenges common to communities. As a uniquely multinational town, Koganecho will play a role as a hub connecting multiple cities and nationalities, contributing to the creation of new networks, and offering a new direction for cultural exchange in the future. We believe that these will become important issues when thinking about the future of Yokohama and the future of Japan.

1. In place of explaining the concept: Shingo Yamano and Nozomu Ogawa’s travel diary of Tohoku

In April of 2023, Nozomu Ogawa and I embarked on a tough but fun journey. It was a trip to go around Tohoku in record time. He arranged the itinerary and schedule for us, and I just let myself go with the flow. Of course, as an old man, I came home all tired out, but during the trip, I encountered many things I didn’t know and had a great time. Traveling is all about experiencing things yourself. I hope that sometime in the future Mr. Ogawa will have the opportunity to report on this trip. Everywhere I went, I saw unique and original initiatives and met many young artists for the first time. Of course, I had been ignorant of most of these things. That probably wasn’t because of the pandemic, but I think it’s because I haven’t been looking at these things very much since before that. Immediately after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, I began to visit Ishinomaki and built a small residence facility in the city. The activity ended after about two years, and since then, I had lost the opportunity to visit. This time I revisited Ishinomaki for the first time in about 10 years. New activities have begun, new bases have been established, and the situation is quite different from before. However, artists I met 10 years ago are still working tenaciously, and I had a happy reunion. From Ishinomaki, we traveled to Iwate, Aomori, Akita and Yamagata.

So part of the theme of this year’s Autumn Bazaar is related to that experience.

2. How this exhibition came to have multiple titles

First of all, the exhibition is called “Autumn Bazaar” instead of “Koganecho Bazaar.” In this framework, we would like to introduce our activities, the artists of Koganecho, and the town of Koganecho itself. We are thinking of creating a system for enjoying walking around the town in the comfortable autumn season. Of course, not only Koganecho, but also its surroundings are full of interesting and varied areas, so we hope that visitors will explore new areas in and around the town on the occasion of their visit.

3. Over many years we have continued cultural exchanges with foreign countries, especially in East Asia and Southeast Asia

This is reflected in the word “international” included in the title of this exhibition. There are two underlying causes or reasons for this activity of ours. One is that the entire area including Koganecho is multinational and is characterized by a culture of coexistence of multinational people, and we expect it to have more far-reaching and pioneering influences in the future. The other reason is simpler: I just happen to come from Fukuoka. In Fukuoka, the introduction of Asian contemporary art has progressed from early on, and I also had the opportunity to meet and work with many Asian artists. That experience had a fundamental impact on how I think about art.

And so, I am still working with them today.

4. This is also a sequel to the “Artist’s Network” that we started last year

This is a project that I originally started in the 1980s, in which artists from local cities gathered and held exhibitions while traveling from place to place. Of course, it could only be realized through a series of papers, telephone calls, and face-to-face encounters.This exhibition, changing titles from time to time, was held throughout Kyushu, Kansai, Tokyo, and finally Fukuoka. I did not manage this alone. Sometimes I traveled to various places with Tadashi Kawamata and Motoi Masaki and put together the content with their cooperation. I’m told that Motoi Masaki, not me, came up with the title “Artist’s Network.” That’s probably true, because that’s what it was called when we brought the exhibition to Tokyo.

From the latter half of the 1980s to the 1990s, a booklet titled “Ragan” (Naked Eye) was published in Nagoya. Each issue of this booklet had a page called “Network,” which featured trends in multiple local cities. I also wrote about information on Kyushu from the first issue. Like our exhibition, the booklet was a modest resistance to the one-way flow of information in those days, and it was a valuable source of information from the local area.

Nearly 40 years have passed since that time, and I wonder if the situation has improved.

If I’m talking about myself today, I don’t think there has been much improvement.

For example, I continue to interact with artists and bases in Asia, and this is related to the period of the coronavirus pandemic, but when all interactions suddenly became remote, I felt that there were many things I could no longer see, and I felt the difficulty of maintaining relationships.

From the second half of last year, real exchanges with foreign countries finally began to revive, and I am feeling the need to proceed with rebuilding the relationships.

5. Travel stories once again

Last year, in 2022, Nozomu Ogawa and I went on a business trip to Fukuoka at my request. I told him about the Artist’s Network we used to have and explained that I wanted to experiment with reproducing it to see what kind of significance it would have in the current situation. I wasn’t all that active, but Mr. Ogawa mostly worked independently, diligently moving around Fukuoka and Kitakyushu and doing research. The result was the two-part Artist’s Network Fukuoka Edition, which was held at the end of the last fiscal year. Part one featured the older artists (although much younger than me) that I invited, and part two featured the young artists, both of which were interesting, I believe. Previously, Koganecho Area Management Center had never attempted to introduce the art of local cities in Japan.

Then we decided to go to Tohoku next. This time it’s a place almost unknown to me. In the 1980s, we had exchanges with Hokkaido, but for some reason there was no relationship with Tohoku at that time. And what I learned from this trip was that I knew almost nothing. All these years, I hadn’t made the effort to learn.

This is a roundabout story, but in the 1990s, my network thinking began to turn overseas. Also, before I knew it, I had more opportunities to work with famous artists. For that reason, I once lost sight of building an Artist’s Network connecting regional cities in Japan.

And so, I was dozing off in the backseat of Mr. Ogawa’s car, thinking about the title of the autumn exhibition. That’s when I came up with “Artist no one knows (Nobody knows their story).” I made a note of this in my notebook and told Mr. Ogawa at breakfast at the hotel the next day. Surprisingly, he didn’t object much. “There may be artists who don’t like this title and won’t participate,” I said, but I thought it would be fine. I may not be able to explain this title well, but I’ll leave that to Mr. Ogawa. For me, this title just means “Let’s shift our point of view,” and it’s a call to people to do the same.

6. For these reasons, this exhibition has become a complicated one with multiple titles.

We wanted to provide an opportunity to revive the network where artists from Koganecho, Yokohama, and the surrounding areas, overseas artists, and local city artists meet and interact. This is the exhibition that we came up with as a result of our trip.

However this exhibition appears to each person, we hope that each and every one of you who participate in this exhibition in one way or another will take home some of the exchanges we have here, and that will lead to the continuation of the relationship in the future. This may be another role for Koganecho or Yokohama in the future.

We hope that you will enjoy meeting “Nobody knows their story.”

Shingo Yamano