Toyoko Ito (T): Could you tell me briefly what Minus One is about?
 

 
Atsuhide Ito (A): Minus One is the title of the exhibition, and the event is called Underground Party. I know it is confusing. Minus One is an exhibition in which 30 artists are brought together to exhibit in an unused tube station called Aldwych Station. Those artists work in diverse media such as film, design, ceramic, photography, fashion design, sound and edible installation. Underground Party is a one night event to raise fund for a children's charity.
 

 
T: Where did the title come from?

 
 
A: There had been another title before I took on the curatorial responsibility, but I changed it to Minus One. It may be interpreted in many ways. First of all, it suggests underground (minus one level). Also it is an under layer or an emerging layer. The implication is that those artists who participate in the exhibition may be emerging. Also, it may be minus oneself. I want to imply something modest. It is as if stepping back. In Japanese there is a saying which goes "if it does not work by pushing, you may pull". I want to be subtle and lateral in that sense. Also, I lost two artists friends one by one during the last three years. I have this sense of missing and incompletion. I wonder if I can carry on something from their work. That 'something' may be a sense of negativity although I do not mean pessimistic. I mean negativity in a sense of modesty, subtraction, shadow, disappearance or critique.
 

 

 Louise Camrass, Where Have All the Gods Gone?, 2003
 
  
T: What has led you to have an exhibition at an underground station?
 


A: An underground station is always the gateway to another world. Have you ever read Notes from Underground by Dostoefsky? In the late 19th century to the early 20th century there was a phenomenal interest in searching unconscious or hidden principles underneath the visible surface. Sigmund Freud's notion of unconscious is illustrative of the obsession. One may recall the fictional project of Martin Kippenberger who made gates of tube stations and those gates were supposed to be connected from one side of the Earth to another. A mad guy!

 
  
T: Have you chosen the venue to make the exhibition look like another world?

 
 
A: My intention is never so direct. Although I am happy to give room for such an imagination, it is not meant to suggest any link to psychoanalysis. It is more like going to a theatre which consciously separates its space from everyday world.
 
 
T: Are you challenging the "white cube" by choosing it?
 

A: No. Not really. Actually I like the conventional white cube space. It is so boringly conventional to challenge the white cube. The idea of challenge in popular vocabulary simply recycles the idea of traditional 'avant-garde'. Although the institution of white cube is quite new, it has been established itself as a commercial presentation case and in my opinion it works.
 

 

 Angela Fechter, She made the leap in what had never been, 2002
 
 
T: Are there any difficulties in installing works there?

 
 
A: It is not easy to use the space. There are interesting features but they are problematic as well. It involves enormous amount of work to give contexts and breathing space for each work. The walls may not be drilled. This poses a serious problem as I want to use everywhere. The panels where posters used to hang limit the ways in which two dimensional works will be arranged.
 
 
T: How are you going to deal with such difficulties?
 

A: I have not given much thought to them as I am still trying to solve other problems. There are issues such as funding, publicity and liaison with artists. Within a limited time frame and without a bureaucratic support structure you tend to touch on everything and it can be stressful. However, the strength of Minus One is its spontaneity.
 
 
T: Whose works are we going to see?
 

A: We have the filmmaker Louise Camrass who in my view possesses sensitivity and an elaborate artistic language to uncover subtle feelings. We will feature another filmmaker, Steven Eastwood. His films such as "the End" or "I make things happen" make you laugh but then make you think hard. In photography Angela Fechter makes perfect photographs where she herself is a protagonist. She displays in her work a sustained self-destructiveness. There is Toshi Nukui who shows some absurd and comical relationship to a dog who collected money during his life.
 
 
T: Tell me about the highlight of the exhibition.

 

A: Noriko Tanaka is installing a food stall where you can get a piece of cake and candy floss to make your own "landscape". Only you have to write a "happy story" before you get a piece of cake. Also the films will be very good.
 

 

 Toshi Nukui, Station Jim, 2003
 
 
T: Are you going to show your paintings as well?

 
 
A: Well, I am trying to think of the ways in which I do not have to show my work but I have not yet come to any good ideas. I wish I could show an invisible work. Let me rephrase it. Many artists want to participate in exhibitions and show their work. It is as if that was the most important self-promotion possible. However, it is not always the case.
 
 
T: That sounds as modest as the theme of Minus One does. Then tell me about the curation. How did you choose the artists?
 

A: Although I did not choose all the artists the following can be said. I do not like the current trend of 'calculated clumsiness'. To me it is careless or incomplete. I wanted the artists who can execute their work. Also, I wanted the artists who are committed to their career whether they are successful or not.
 
 
T: Having worked as a curator how do you feel now?
 
 
A: I am very happy about bringing good artists together. In one way or another if this exhibition can help them make the next step in their career I will be even happier. Also if the exhibition can let the audience think about the idea of Minus One or anything evoked by the work I will be more than happy. I hope it will be a space for critically re-examining the way in which artwork is experienced.
 
 

Atsuhide Ito
b. 1965, Shizuoka, Japan.
Having completed degrees in painting and social anthropology in London, he moved to Australia to carry out a research on souvenirs just prior to the Olympic at the University of Western Sydney. After his return to London he applied for many competitions and other opportunities but kept being rejected. The collection of his rejection letters was published as a book "Dear Thank You Yours Sincerely" from Pocko editions in 2001. In 2002 having received a scholarship from the Surrey Institute of Art and Design he started a project on contemporary Japanese landscape.


Venue

Aldwych Underground Station
The Strand
London WC2B

Opening Hours
Private View
30 January 2004, 18:00 - 20:00

Exhibition: Minus One
28 & 29 January 2004, 14:00 - 20:00
30 January 2004, 14:00 - 18:00
Admission: free

Underground Party
31 January 2004, 19:30 - till late
By invitation only, Admission charge: 10GBP
All proceeds will go to WellChild to raise funds for sick children.
For more information visit www.minusone.org.uk


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