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チェックと日本の現代美術界についての感想

スナック波止場

2013年4月15日


One lonely Berlin hotel room. One weary artworld nomad, who has seen everything. 9pm, Sunday night. A knock at the door.


WELCOME TO SNACK HATOBA

It's Ohitori Snack Hatoba!! Two mamas, Ayumi and Ayaka, a mobile dinner and drinks, the smallest dining bar in the world, an intimate evening à trois recreating the atmosphere and conversation of a small back street refuge, and a three way one-time-only art "performance" that has left me wondering why all art cannot be this beautiful, slow, sincere, involving ... and utopian.

http://www.facebook.com/SnackHatoba

Snack Hatoba is an art project/series founded by Are You Meaning Company -- Ayumi Minemura, a social/relational artist -- and performance artist, Ayaka Okutsu, in Berlin in 2011. Both have been involved extra-curricular in restaurant and catering jobs while making their way on the ever-freewheeling Berlin Japanese art scene. They had the idea of combining their interest in social staging and self-aware performance by creating Snack Hatoba, an occasional dining bar, in which they recreate -- nostalgically and imaginatively (since, they say, neither of them has ever been in one) -- the atmosphere of an authentic, old style Japanese dining bar, presided over by two tolerant, discrete, and sympathetic "mamas".

I have written before about Ayaka Okutsu's sometimes wrenching and physical performance work before, in a round up of the Japanese Berlin scene. Okutsu is a UK educated artist who has been in Berlin about five years.

http://www.art-it.asia/u/rhqiun/hCHn9Xu6LofPQ7EAiJaN/

Ayumi Minemura, meanwhile, has been in Berlin a little longer, and is a graduate of Zokei University from its golden years in the late 1990s, a period of experimentation that produced among others Koki Tanaka. With Are You Meaning Company, her perfomance unit, she continues to pursue a gentle relational art practice, often creating events and locations that bring people together and provoke reflections on space, identity and communication -- whether between couples or between strangers. Recently she has moved more to video work, leaving behind the object-based works with which she started out.

For most of its existence, Snack Hatoba has been a public event, a bar set up at parties and openings. It has been a big success in the Berlin art scene, and progressively they have honed their stage and performances with clever decor, costumes and persona, and a genuine warmth of atmosophere that has welcomed allcomers to their calm "port" in a stormy world. Too successful, perhaps; they say, that it was becoming too much like a regular bar, where they just served people. The point, of course, is talk; up close and personal, something not so easy in parties, although it would be fun to get guests to act out different roles and personalities at the bar.


AYUMI MAMA AND AYAKA MAMA

So, from this year, Snack Hatoba also exists in a new, miniature, personalised version: Ohitori Snack Hatoba. The bar is portable, with the table, lights, decor, food and drinks packed into two rucksacks. The mamas will come to your room, and set up the bar for an evening.


MIZUKI ENDO, GANGSTA STYLE

Their first guest was curator, writer and rice farmer, Mizuki Endo, who dressed in the specially provided costume, looked suitably gangsta-style. The talk explores various domains of personal psychology and history, with a personally tailored menu of choices to guide the subjects. I was the second guest. I had helped with a jazz soundtrack, and was able to offer a dimly lit, anonymous (and lonely) blue hotel room as the perfect backdrop. We squeezed the bar into the corridor near the bathroom, got into our costumes. Food was served, and drinks poured. I made my first choice -- "the Jungle of Life" -- and the talk began ...


PERFORMANCE ...OR THERAPY?

... Three hours later, I was waving goodbye, bowing and thanking the mamas as they left to slip out of the hotel. They had just smiled at the receptionist when they came up, and they left equally un-noticed. The experience is personalised ... and personal. We found ourselves drifting from role play to something more honest and intimate. In fact, as we discuss later, the concept is somewhat caught between self-conscious performance and quite open therapy. The talk was three way, we laughed a lot, and I was as much a part of the work as the two mamas behind the bar. Maybe we discovered a thing or two. But more strikingly, there was the sense of surreality happening there and then in the banal reality of a hotel room. A delicate, trusting and very gentle balance, however unlikely and unreal. I felt completely honoured to be there. A moment of beauty in an ugly, generic place. Very special. A utopian moment in everyday life.


TIME TO GO HOME

The next morning the receptionists were all smiling. One of them came over to me at breakfast and asked (auf Deutsch) if I would please come and answer some questions at the reception after. Uh-oh. But no, it was nothing; I just needed to clear a payment on the first couple of nights. When I got upstairs, the last of the food containers and beer bottles were gone. It was if nothing had happened (or, as Ayaka joked later, I had just had a sad night in with a take-away and a six pack). I began to wonder myself if I had just dreamt everything.



ADRIAN FAVELL
http://www.adrianfavell.com

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