Report by Loh-Yi-Pei

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1. The environment of the residence/room, working & living environment, location, etc.

The room is great for living and working. It has very nice view and sufficient sunlight during the day which is good for art-making. The fact that it can be interchangeable as a bedroom or studio or display room makes it a meaningful and useful space. The house is lovely and a very nice place to stay. The residency, where is located 15-minute walk away from Sengawa station, is close to shops and restaurants. Overall, the location is very good.

2. Co-iki members, atmosphere & characters, etc.

Co-iki members are very friendly and nice to communicate with. They are very open to share ideas and give suggestions when necessary. They also give useful advices or information regarding my stay in Tokyo and Japanese culture. Spending time with the members and staying in the Co-iki with Yoko are very good ways to learn about Japan as well as Japanese custom and culture. They have very kind personalities which are very easy to get along with. I felt very comfortable having them to experience life together in a totally strange place to me and working together on the project. Thanks to their kindness and generosity in making the Co-iki a very warm place to stay, I never really felt far away from home.

3. Sengawa, the town.

Sengawa is a serene and peaceful place. Although it is far away from the hustle bustle of the city hub, it is an interesting place itself. There are several supermarkets that provide daily needs as well as restaurants that serve delicacies. While there are fast food, there are handmade and organic food too. From “residential” cafés, ramen shops, theatre, galleries to “olsén”, schools, bookstores, second-hand good shops and so on, Sengawa is a relatively small town as compared to the busy areas in city hub, however, it consists of plenty of interesting things. In the neighbourhood, it is not uncommon to see small farms. It is a “green” place with fresh air as well as peaceful atmosphere.

4. Your challenge in Tokyo and your effort/experience/discovery/change in realizing the project.

Staying in Tokyo without knowing Japanese was a challenge to me. Travelling in the city, finding ways, buying things, making inquiry and so on could be a problem sometimes. While language could be a barrier, it was not really a big issue as people were always willing to help. In terms of the project, how to communicate with people at a deeper level without knowing the language could be a concern. Fortunately, the language issue primarily had been overcome with the assistance by Yoko. Therefore, from a different perspective, how to involve people taking part in the project was the main question. Since artworks are objects I offered for exchange, artworks per se played very crucial role in the project. Hence art-making was the part, or I should say the challenge, I have to overcome in order to get the project running. Basically, it involved the quality and quantity I could produce in such a short amount of time. While it proceeded to the second part which was the interaction with people, I found out while the language might have become a limitation in some occasions, the whole effort of spending time together, be it having tea or cooking together, was much more important. I guess for the participants and I, while item exchanging was a key part of the Barter Project, the experience we had been through would be more significant after all.

5. Your future plan and the development of your project you wish from this residency experience. What this 2 month residency means to you in your life.

To me, it will be interesting to run the Barter Project in a different place in the future. What if the project is carried out in a public place? Would there be any difference in planning and running the project if I were in a different community? As for the near future plan, currently, I am preparing for an exhibition which is taking place in Auckland very soon. I think it is too soon for me to conclude what the residency really means to me “in my life”. However, I think staying at the Co-iki really had been a wonderful self-exploring journey to me. Within the two months, constantly involving myself in art-making, interacting with local people and exploring unknown places turned out to be a process of self-discovery. Through the process of understanding a different culture and running the project, it had become common to question about my own identity, career and expectation.

6. Japanese culture, people, city, etc. (any impression)

Talking about my impression of Japanese culture, people and city, I think there is a few words that appear immediately in my mind. Such reaction really tells how the way the culture, people and city impressed me. “Order”, “organised”, “detailed”, “delicate”, “sophisticate” and “creative”, to mention a few. From what I had seen, people are following certain “social orders” or tradition that in result form a much organised society. I can easily tell from how people being organised in large crowd or how people being considerate for the others when doing little things in daily life. People’s attitude in strictly paying attention to details lead to a much delicate and sophisticate culture. It can be shown through how the traditional food is prepared and served as well as through the woodblock print and painting in Japanese art. Japanese creativity, from the field of visual art and animation to architecture and food, has been surprising me a lot during the stay and even before I went to Japan. I have to say that I am always amazed by how effective and wise the way Japanese use space. It is always amazing and entertaining to view how the interior of a house is designed or the limited courtyard space is used.

7. Support of the resident’s project

I cannot express more how grateful I am towards the support given by the Co-iki members. From assisting in more technical aspect such as translation to introducing me to Japanese culture, from making the interview video to exploring the city, from helping to set up the sharing event to sharing Japanese traditional food, from giving me tips of living with respect in Japanese society to accompanying me to art museum and event, and much more. I appreciate a lot for such kind and warm support. These priceless experiences are wonderful and warm memories.

By Yi Pei