Sex and Art in Shinjuku: ArtGigTokyo 1

The first edition of a new public art event series lands in Ni-chome.

In Oddly Enough Photo Reports by William Andrews 2011-05-10

Aiming to be a new kind of platform for interaction with art and performance, “ArtGigTokyo” was a free twelve-hour art happening and music event involving dozens of artists and performers, Japanese and international. The first edition in a planned series, themed around sex, took place one sunny Sunday in a nightclub in Shinjuku at the end of Golden Week.

The event's venue was Bar Exit, located down an unsuspecting street in Shinjuku's well-known Ni-chome gay district.

The club's modest entrance seemed even smaller in the quiet hours of the mid-afternoon, when most of the area was shut up after Saturday's partying...

Artworks were scattered around on walls, such as here 'Brusendorf 1' and 'Brusendorf 4' (2009) by Frederic Aranda.

The choice of contributing artists was very catholic; one of the more famous and accomplished names, Makoto Aida and his 'Gokikaburi' (2009), set the tone for the evening's mix of the lurid and naughty.The toilets featured several pieces. This one housed '(studies)' by Robert Waters.

Visitors were invited to explore the hidden spaces of the venue. Even the lockers included a sound installation by musician and composer Benjamin Skepper. To the right is 'The Primal Scene' (2011) by Beatriz Iglessis.

Some installations were more interesting than others and many could easily be missed by the too casual viewer. The bathroom mirrors, for example, had become an untitled work by Vivienne Sato.

It was hard to know what to make of the mishmash, which included pages from a book, tea bags, parts of a tarantula and even colorful toilet paper.

The most explicit work was a video by Chim↑Pom called 'UTAMARO Song', with one of the unit members applying a straw to his nether realms. The same glittery chamber also had other Robert Waters works.

Early in the evening saw unannounced performance art by the likes of Jack McLean, here creating balloon penises for his piece titled, very literally, 'Blow Job'.

Vivienne Sato was as always ubiquitous and conspicuous.

Large leftovers from Jack McLean's 'Blow Job' could always be found all over the venue.

Once night fell the music started: Metro-Ongen, one of the many bands who performed.

William Andrews

William Andrews. William Andrews came to Japan in 2004. He first lived in Osaka, where he was a translator for Kansai Art Beat. Arriving in Tokyo in 2008, he now works as an writer, editor and translator. He writes a blog about Japanese radicalism and counterculture ( and one about Tokyo contemporary theatre ( He is the author of Dissenting Japan: A History of Japanese Radicalism and Counterculture, from 1945 to Fukushima. » See other writings


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