Takumi Kato: Interview

 INTERVIEW: Takumi Kato

 Artist-in-residence at INSTINC | December 2013

 Islands, 21-29December 2013

 by Fann ZJ

The INSTINC is spreading. Japanese artist Takumi Kato is the second 2013 Artist-In-Residence [AIR] to hold his exhibition beyond the INSTINC SOHO space. In collaboration with The Lorong 24A Shophouse series, step into a most unlikely place for art as we hear from Takumi about the challenges to bring people into the exhibition.

How are you finding Singapore?
It’s my first time to Singapore and I love the food! I’m loving every type of food! Before coming here, I didn’t know about South East Asia. Someone told me that Singapore is similar to Japan. Singapore is also an island country. It is urban and dense.

I think it is somewhat similar. Yet different as people are open minded. Singaporeans are welcoming to everyone and friendly. They would share their tables with me at the Hawker Centre and talk to me. Asking me where I’m from.

Can you tell us more about the concept of Islands?
Japan is an island country. However, it is hard to feel the “islandness” and how it feels to stand on an island. So I travelled to some islands to walk, cycle and explore how it feels to be on an island.

What was the process of bringing this concept of Islands to Singapore?
I travelled to Kusu island (an island off Singapore’s southern coast) and in a similar way to my explorations in Japan, walked, cycled and explored how it feels to be on an island. I visited the shrine on top of the hill and ask the priest there to bless the sand that I collected from the Island.

I began doing research in Singapore where at the library, I accidentally found military submarines maps charting enemy ship movement. I also found maps that documented the sea route between Singapore and Japan.

I then used the sand from Kusu island to cover the enemy locations to create the artworks.

Tell us more about your relationship with the chosen artists.
I contacted the local artists and explained to them my plan. I interviewed and looked at the artists’ artwork and talked about how to collaborate. They didn’t have to think about the concept of “Island”, but to bring their basic artworks.

I didn’t choose too much. It was quite an indirect process. The artist reacts to the concept. If I selected too seriously then I would have to know all the Singaporean artists to select from. I wanted to have a range of different artworks, open minded artworks.

What was the curation process like?
I told them to please arrange freely. The shophouse space is quite unique. The artists chose their favourite spaces. Fortunately there was no fighting. The show is about open ideas and is flexible. The artists were quite similar to me in thinking.

Lorong 24A isn’t your typical gallery location. How has the response been?
I am not here everyday, but I hear that the response is very good. Very positive. When people come into here, I ask, “Where did you hear about this exhibition?” They often say that they were just passing here and came in.

I think many people see the red backdrop at the entrance and are curious what is happening inside. We placed a poster on the door and I wrote the words “Art Exhibition” above, so that people knew what was going on.

How was the experience of the Singapore AIR?
Important. Independent artists are isolated and cooperation is important for making. Through this residency, the artists can cooperate and yet keep their own individual independence.

In Japan, the art show is a ghost ship. The Japanese viewer just looks. They keep quiet even when I talk to them. Here, I can talk quite naturally and people are more engaged. They are motivated to see the art pieces and I can feel the response quite directly.

It would be good if I can catch more people as this area is not really for the art community and the art related.