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Enthusiasm for “EASTEAST_TOKYO2023”

2023.4.7

#ART

The fair-type art event “EASTEAST_TOKYO2023” held at the Science Museum in Tokyo in February 2023 was a great success. The number of visitors exceeded 10,000, not to mention the players such as artists, galleries, and collectors. Moreover, the audience was not only so-called art people, but also people from diverse cultural communities that crossed genres such as music and fashion. The enthusiasm of the venue, which seemed to be a condensed version of Tokyo’s cultural scene, even evoked the nostalgic atmosphere of the pre-Corona days. Three years after “EAST EAST_Tokyo” was originally launched in 2020, “EASTEAST_TOKYO2023” has undergone a major renewal. What kind of project was this multidirectional art event, which included not only exhibits but also food, live music, performances, and talks? The founders, Yuta Takeda (LOGS), advisor Toru Matsushita (SIDE CORE), and director Kiyoshi Kurotaki (Decameron), talked about the concept of the event, the methodology of curation, the “cultural ecosystem and their vision of a “cultural ecosystem,” as well as their future plans.

Raising Questions about Existing Art Fairs

Photo: Yuki Aizawa

ー”EASTEAST_TOKYO2023″ was a great success, and I would like to ask you mainly about your impressions and response to the fair. What was your intention in launching a new art fair in the first place?

Matsushita: It was to raise an issue about the existing art market. There is a strong power structure in the art market, with “Art Basel” (Switzerland), one of the largest art fairs in the world, at the top. There, artists are nothing more than decorations and are not allowed to make a statement. But the art fair is also an important place for us. That is why we wanted to formulate our own view of the market. No matter how powerful the current system is, we wanted to show our rebellious attitude like Don Quixote.

Toru Matsushita / Director of SIDE CORE
Profile of SIDE CORE
Started activities in 2012. Members are Sakie Takasu, Toru Matsushita, and Taishi Nishihiro. They develop projects set in public spaces from the perspective of street culture. They work both indoors and outdoors under the theme of “Expansion of Expression in Urban Space” to shift thinking, intervene in the gaps, and expand expression and action. He has actively participated in exhibitions in Japan and abroad, such as “Roppongi Crossing 2022: Coming & Going” (Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2022) and “Water Ripples 2021: New Landscape from Vanishing Landscape” (Watari-um Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, 2021).

ーSo you ran into the “windmills” of the existing art market, didn’t you?

Matsushita: However, I don’t think it is enough to simply make the art fair an “artist’s paradise” that is convenient only for artists. Art fairs are above all an opportunity for galleries, and since Instagram, the world has become a place where works can be traded directly between artists and customers, and good galleries are currently facing a difficult situation. In that sense, I wanted to create an art fair where artists, galleries, and collectors can easily project their own ideas and feel at home.

Photo: Yuki Aizawa

ーThe art fair was launched in this way, and now it has been held on a much larger scale. I am curious as to why the Science Museum was chosen as the venue at this time, three years later.

Takeda: We were lucky to be able to hold the fair at a time when the Corona Disaster had settled down. It was not something we were aiming for at all (haha). However, Matsushita and his team had been discussing the next phase of the project for some time, and when the production team was discussing ideas for the venue, the Science Museum was the obvious choice. When we actually went to see the venue, it was even better than we had expected, and we thought, “This is it! “We decided to go for it. First of all, it had never been used for an art event before, and its location in Kitanomaru Park in the outer gardens of the Imperial Palace is unique, and there is a sense of circulation within the venue. To begin with, none of the staff had imagined doing it in a shiny white cube, so the Science Museum was perfect.

Yuta Takeda
President, Logs Corporation
Yuta Takeda was born in Tokyo in 1984 as the fourth generation of a long-established clothing wholesaler. After graduating from Keio University with a degree in economics, he joined the Strategy Consulting Group of Accenture, Inc. In 2014, he joined the management of a clothing wholesaler whose business was transferred by the family business, and in 2016, he changed the company name to Log’s Corporation. Since then, he has expanded his business into four areas of clothing, food, living and studying, and has established and operates DDD HOTEL (hotel), PARCEL (art gallery), nôl (restaurant), GAKU (creative education for teens), EASTEAST_ (art fair), and others.

Takeda: What “EASTEAST_TOKYO2023” also aimed to do was to expand “EAST EAST_Tokyo,” which was originally a one-team presentation by a group of friends, to the scale of the city of Tokyo. We were aware that various art communities had sprung up in Harajuku, Shinjuku, and other parts of Tokyo, so we asked the directors of this project to bring in new blood from outside the art world in order to introduce them to a wider audience.

Matsushita: I was able to present some of my vision of a new art fair with the first “EAST EAST_Tokyo,” but for “EAST EAST_TOKYO2023,” I wanted to go beyond our own ideas and deal with a broader context and values. That is why Kurotaki was selected as an associate director.

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