Only three years old, this year, thirty-one galleries have occupied all of the rooms in the luxury Agnes Hotel and Apartments in Iidabashi, offering a small-scale and intimate, but intense art-viewing experience.
Away from the familiar territories of their respective white cubes, the galleries have responded to the particularities of the hotel rooms with varying degrees of inventiveness. Some rely simply on the strength of their artists’ work, and just enjoy the quirkyness of displaying it on beds, in sinks or on chairs, as well as the walls of course. Others have made more effort to consider how what the work means in this different environment. Beds are so laden with intimate connotations that it would be a missed opportunity not to take this into account somehow. Yumiko Chiba Associates (Room 407) have laid out enticing, sexy photographic installations on their beds, while Hakutosha (207) has pulled back the duvet to reveal works composed of personal objects like books, evoking some of the other things we do in bed.
Zenshi (406) has filled its bathroom with an installation of comforting music and hanging paper cut-outs of fantastical monsters and human figures, while just down the corridor Kenji Taki Gallery (408) has placed a dazzling LED sculpture by Kengo Kito to fit in with the lavish surfaces. Boice Planning has made visiting Room 305 something truly memorable: viewers are confronted with a work of performance art that both responds to the nature of the room and transforms it; it is well worth the visit to Agnes for that experience alone.
The hotel environment is an interesting half-way point between the sterile white cube of the commercial gallery and the intimacy of your own home. The Agnes Hotel is undeniably a very desirable place to stay in, and yet it is essentially an impersonal environment. Nevertheless, the (seemingly) casual or unconventional placing of the work on beds and tables that you would not see in a gallery does bring you a step closer to being able to visualise the work in your own home. While most of the work on show is probably over most people’s budgets, there are some works on sale for as little as 10,000 yen.
This art fair only lasts for the weekend, so don’t miss it!