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Ai mi Tagai - a collaboration between Central Saint Martins and Tokyo University of the Arts

abstract painting
abstract painting
Jean-Baptiste Lagadec
Written by
Internal Communications
Published date
04 December 2020

Launched in November 2020, アイミタガイ Ai mi Tagai is a collaborative exhibition project initiated in 2019 to mark the fifth year of the international artist-in-residence exchange programme between Central Saint Martins (CSM) and the Associate Studio Programme in London (created in partnership with Acme Studios), and Tokyo University of the Arts and Youkobo Art Space in Tokyo.

The Associate Studio Programme (ASP)

Led by Professor Graham Ellard, Central Saint Martins (CSM) runs the Associate Studio Programme (ASP). Developed in partnership with Acme Studios, the first of two studios opened in 2013 and the scheme now provides affordable studio space for a total of 20 BA Fine Art graduates for two years. The ASP has attracted interest from many other institutions including Tokyo University of the Arts and Youkobo Art Space. Through a mutual interest in supporting graduates and in facilitating an international perspective among graduate artists an annual residency exchange programme was initiated.

The London/Tokyo Young Artist-in-Residence Exchange programme (LTYE)

The London/Tokyo Young Artist-in-Residence Exchange programme (LTYE) provides the opportunity for two London based artists on the ASP to spend six weeks at Youkobo working in a shared studio with two recent graduates from Tokyo University of the Arts. Those Tokyo based artists then spend six weeks working alongside their London peers at one of the ASP studios. The objective of the LTYE is to enhance the international experience of the artists and reinforce their ability to operate in an international context of art making, exhibition and reception. It aims to act against insularity and to support an understanding of local and national tendencies, customs and practices within a broad international context.

Ai mi Tagai

In 2019, to mark the fifth year of the project, an exhibition; Ai mi Tagai (meaning ‘mutual empathy or assistance’), was staged in Tokyo. The 19 artists that had participated in the exchange to date took part in a show, staged across three venues in central Tokyo. The exhibition, supported by the Sasakawa Foundation and the Tokyo Arts Council, provided a platform for the promotion of the artists’ work, invaluable professional experience and an opportunity to collaborate with their international peers. The Tokyo exhibition was planned as the first of two, the second to take place in London, at CSM’s Lethaby Gallery.

The London exhibition, planned to open on 19 November, was cancelled in light of the coronavirus pandemic. In its place, a two-part web project was created. Led by a Production Committee of four ex-Associates; Eleanor Turnbull, Daria Blum, Alice Jacobs and Gillies Adamson-Semple, it was conceived of as something more than a simple online exhibition. Instead, its two parts correspond to a studio; the ‘Work Space’, in which an ongoing sharing and discussion of work-in-progress takes place, and a gallery; the ‘Show Space’ in which finished work is eventually shown in a series of eleven ‘exhibitions’ over the course of the year.

At the heart of the project is the ambition to respond positively and proactively to the challenges of isolation and the travel restrictions created by the coronavirus pandemic to find new ways of working together while apart.

Working alongside the artists, a group of MA Culture, Criticism and Curation students created a strand of the Work Space titled 'Speaking with Empathy' which includes video interviews with the artists, a digital Reading Room in which to exchange resources, and 'What is a Residency?'; workshops with UAL BA students considering residency opportunities and cultural exchange.

The Ai mi Tagai web project was launched on 19 November 2020, and will be continuously updated until 19 November 2021.

Ai mi Tagai has received funding from Tokyo University of the Arts’ ‘I LOVE YOU’ project 2020 and the Agency of Cultural Affairs of the Japanese Government 2020.

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