Interview with Ella Krivanek 1


Ella Krivanek is a young Australian artist/curator who came to Japan in 2014 after graduation from Westminster University in London, in search for a new experience in art.
During 2 years of her stay, she set up an independent art gallery, Space Space, in Komae in Tokyo, ran it for a year, and organised the final event, the Bathhouse Show.

The Bathhouse Show was a mixed event of music and art, just for one night in February 2016. It took place in the old bath house which was to be demolished on the next day of the event. The 4 music bands were well-known Japanese groups in the independent music scene, and the 40 artists were gathered from various countries around the world. It provided a sense of diversity and mixture, and the audience shared the excitement of experiencing something that was happening just there and then.

In September She is putting on a show in Melbourne, Australia in conjunction with Alice Mcintosh at the Brunswick Sculpture Centre, before moving Space Space gallery to Johannesburg, South Africa with new partner Dorothy Siemens to work on creating the same kind of experience for audiences and artists as they did in Tokyo.
(The interviewer Yuri Fukushima)

Ella Krivanekはオーストラリア出身の若いアーティスト兼キュレーターで、2014年にロンドンのウェストミンスター大学を卒業後、新しいアートの体験を求めて来日しました。
2年間の日本滞在中、彼女は東京の狛江でアーティスト運営のギャラリーSpace Space を立ち上げ、1年間運営し、最後のイベントとしてThe Bathhouse Showを企画しました。

The Bathhouse Showは音楽とアートのイベントで、翌日には取り壊されるという古い銭湯で、2016年2月に一晩だけ行われました。出演した4つの音楽バンドはインディペンデント音楽シーンで良く知られたグループで、40人のアーティストは世界各国から集められ、多様性と混在を呈示したショウは、一期一会の高揚感を観客に共有させてくれました。

今年9月には、オーストラリア・メルボルンのBrunswick Sculpture Centreで、Alice Mcintoshと展示を行い、その後新しいパートナーDorothy Siemensと共に、南アフリカ・ヨハネスブルクにSpace Spaceギャラリーを移す予定です。彼の地の観客やアーティストのために、東京で行ったのと同じような体験を創り出していくことになります。
(インタビュアー 福島ゆり)

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Firstly, please tell us about what brought you to Japan.
I came to Japan partly on a whim. I had been living in London, and although this was a very enriching experience, and my first time living away from home, I found that as that time came to an end I was interested in spending time in a country where the culture is even more different than that of Australia where I grew up. I was able to get a job, and consequently a working visa in Tokyo, and I quickly saved up some money and flew out, without really knowing a lot about Japan. I was excited to go to a place that was so unknown to me, so that I could take it all in with fresh eyes.

What did you find most interesting when you first came to Japan?
I was really interested in how supportive the small, underground youth culture is here. Everyone is enthusiastic about new projects, and there is a lot of intersection between the music, art, and fashion communities. I find that in other large cities, like Melbourne, London or New York there is a deep-seated sense of competition. This can make for amazing and vibrant art, but it also puts up barriers to people who are thinking about starting something new. I was surprised by how positive my peers were in response to others’ ideas and fledgling projects.

I also liked the relaxed culture here, which I think a lot of people don’t associate with Japan. I found that contrary to what you often hear, people in Tokyo, although incredibly busy, really make a lot of time for one another, and are open to making new friends and connections. Everyone works really hard, but if you’re good friends there is total openness in downtime. We always hung out at each others’ houses, dropping in and out freely, bringing records or art to show each other. You could go for a walk at midnight to the recording studio and jam, or hitchhike out to a campsite, and stay up late talking politics or philosophy among the fireflies. It is an open, supportive breeding ground for ideas.

How did you find the art scene or artists in Japan?
When I first arrived I was really interested in figuring out what was most “happening” in the arts scene in Tokyo. It was surprised to find that it was very different than in the Western countries I had previously been exposed to, despite Tokyo’s reputation for being a very globally connected and modern metropolis. It seemed to me there was a lack of ARIs and non-commercial spaces that were supporting young artists in making risky work, and as a result a lot of the art that was being shown was of the kind that could be commericalised on a small scale: prints or photos that could be put on keychains, T-shirts and postcards. There were some galleries like XYZ, and Wishless, or Parades Gallery in Matsumoto that were showing interesting sculptural and installation work, and I was inspired to add my curatorial style to the mix.

Tell us about how you started a gallery. What was the most interesting or difficult?
After seeing other young people who had started spaces in Japan, it clicked for me that this was even a possibility. About 2 months after arriving, I started a long search for a space. Finding one was a big challenge, in that old and rundown buildings don’t survive long in a city in which space is at such a premium. Finally I found an old warehouse that was being torn down in 1 year. It was still pretty pricey but it met my needs in terms of being a noise-friendly, large, space with an understanding landlord who allowed me to modify the building structurally to my needs.

One of the biggest challenges of starting up, was actually rebuilding the interior of that warehouse to meet the minimum requirements of a gallery. When I took it over, it was missing walls and the roof had caved in. I needed the help of a big group of amazing friends to transform it into what eventually became the gallery.

Between November 2014 and November 2015 I was also living there to save on rent, and during the periods when we were doing heavy construction or shows were on this was really taxing: it was wintry cold, dirt was everywhere. There was regularly snow on my sleeping mat when I woke up.

But through the process of renovating of that space I found I had already started to build a community around the gallery. Later when the first show opened, with many of the international artists exhibiting in Tokyo for the first time, I felt hugely gratified.
(continues to interview 2)







私が最初到着したときには、東京のアートシーンで何が一番「最先端」なのかを見つけたいと思っていました。ところが、グローバルで近代的な大都市といった東京のイメージにも関わらず、私が今まで体験した西洋諸国とは全く違っていることに驚かされました。ここには、若いアーティストが挑戦的な作品を作るためのARIArtist-run Initiatives)や非商業スペースが欠けているように思えます。その結果、展示されているアートは小規模で商業化しやすいもの(キーホルダー、Tシャツやポストカードなどにのせられるような版画や写真など)になっています。XYZWishless、松本のParades Galleryなど、おもしろい彫刻やインスタレーションを見せているギャラリーもいくつかはあって、私のキュレーションスタイルに影響を受けました。




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