Kingston University in London is midway through a collaboration with Kyoto Seika University in Japan, which has just seen the launch a live art performance and two exhibitions in Kyoto and Tokyo.
The partnership – titled ‘The Art of Intervention’- is led by Professor Fran Lloyd of Kingston’s Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture, along with Professor Rebecca Jennison of Kyoto Seika University. Professional artists, film-makers, curators, costumiers, photographers and writers have worked alongside students from both universities in seminars, workshops, public symposia, live events and exhibitions.
Performance artist Áine Phillips has taken her work ‘The Lost Runway’, originally commissioned by Kingston University’s Stanley Picker Gallery, to Kyoto. The live art performance, which is dedicated to missing or lost girls, began with a workshop involving students and professional artists. In the 10-day Kyoto workshop, Dr Phillips and her collaborators created a series of costumes, each of which became a personal memorial for a lost girl. The public performance resembled a fashion show with each student walking down a catwalk wearing a costume they had designed themselves.
“In London, the emphasis on the theme of ‘lost girls’ was very much about commemorating women who had disappeared, often as victims of crime or of sexual abuse,” Professor Lloyd said. “But in Japan it took a slightly different form. There, people also explored ideas such as lost languages, loss of places, and loss of education – a comment on Japan’s rigorous education system where some young people drop out and are left with no qualifications.”
In Kingston, the costume designers incorporated blood, hair, ashes, smashed car wing mirrors and mail bags in their outfits. Professor Lloyd was equally impressed with the imagination of the Japanese students. “They came up with very inventive ways of realising their ideas,” she said. “One student illustrated ‘lost past’, for example, by printing her own footmarks on clear, unfolding plastic, which resembled a shimmering river.”
Alice Maude-Roxby, course director of BA Photography at Kingston, teamed up with Japanese artist Yoshiko Shimada to exhibit a series of prints based upon the experimental activities at the Biggako art school. Renowned for producing some of Japan’s leading artists of the ‘60s and ‘70s, the college is now in a state of disrepair and close to collapse. A recent Kingston photography graduate, Alex Chase-White, and film-maker Rachel Davis, who is a senior researcher at Kingston, travelled to Kyoto to document the ongoing partnership and initiate new projects.
The collaboration is still ongoing. Ms Maude-Roxby is returning later this month to continue her work with Ms Shimada. Meanwhile, an exhibition is currently taking place at Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography entitled Love’s Body – Art in the age of AIDS. “Japan is generally uncomfortable talking about HIV Aids, seeing it as a ‘foreigner’s disease’,” explained Professor Lloyd. The New Year will see a further exhibition in London.
The Art of Intervention is funded by the British Council, Culture Ireland and the Japan Foundation. The Lost Runway was originally commissioned in partnership with London’s Live Art Development Agency. For further information please visit the website www.art-of-intervention.com .