Ura Ayaka+Koyama Yuya

“Measure it, Get in Between, Break Out”

A collaborative project between Ura Ayaka—who creates works that investigate relationships between things based on participatory performances that use words and bodies—and Koyama Yuya—who works through video and performances to approach the body as existing in gradations between the public and the private. Together with teenagers and twentysomethings, Ura and Koyama conducted in-depth explorations, both linguistic and physical, of art, art festivals, and society, and how they connect to the group members’ own experiences. While the Triennale was open, participants invited exhibiting artists and volunteers to be guests on a radio show that they hosted and broadcast based on their research findings. Beginning in April 2022, the group used Art Lab Aichi (ALA) as their base for learning about how art festivals are put together, through lectures by the festival curators and through collaborative research. While confronting a variety of ways of thinking proposed by Ura and Koyama, participants engaged in observation, experimentation, and dialog about the relationships between art, society, and self. Through their weekly meetings, participants aimed to acquire the skills they needed in order to connect with elements they were studying. An archive of reports about the group’s past activities and a booth from which members broadcast their “Katte ni RADIO”* program were set up at one of the exhibition venues, and the group broadcast live once a week for the duration of the Triennale. The show consisted of content proposed by the various participants, such as interviews with exhibiting artists, curators, or volunteers, recipes from various countries contributed by artists, and a “poetry corner” encouraging poetic expression arising from viewing or appreciation of the triennale’s art works.

* “Katte ni” in the title “katte ni RADIO” is a word that means “at will,” “of oneʼs own free will,” “on oneʼs own initiative,” “without permission,” etc. in Japanese.

Selected Works & Awards
Ura Ayaka:
In addition to examining the nature of social gatherings, she has organized numerous workshops and other participatory works. She has also been involved in the project management for “female artists meeting,” a network for women in the art world, and is the administrator of the CSLAB.
Koyama Yuya:
By extracting from and combining observations of how we interact, he has been exploring the future through visualizing and deconstructing the body that is dependent upon existing frameworks.
  • Installation view at Aichi Triennale 2022
  • Ura Ayaka+Koyama Yuya, Measure it, Get in Between, Break Out, 2022
  • Photo: ToLoLo studio

“Katte ni RADIO” YouTube Channel

Reflection by the Artist:
The absence of a goal in “understanding”

Talk by Ura Ayaka+ Koyama Yuya

In this time’s work, the request by the art festival decided from the start to be output on the radio and to have participants in their teens or twenties. We wanted to do something different and shared the thought of not making it a “free publicity (of the art festival).”
I think having the observer’s advertising the artwork or festival with no intention works wrong and if they start saying things such as “art is interesting,” we would have to ask them questions such as “Maybe we do not know about that, do we?.”
Choosing the title to be “Measure it, Get in Between, Break Out,” was an appearance of our consciousness we had from the beginning to decide to have the project focusing on the participants rather than creating a mindmap to indicate the direction of the project and pick a theme from it.
Ultimately, the project was separated into the first half where we did workshops and research, and the latter half where we did the radio broadcasting. Having been labeled as “young people” and seen as “doing something which has a deep meaning” we may end up becoming an optimal material for free advertisement. To avoid this, and prevent Mr. Koyama and I being guiding artists or artists of the festival, from consuming the intelligence and sense of each individual, we put a lot of emphasis on participating and doing activities as one pleases.
As a part of the research, we had studied on artists and artworks of the art festival. However, as there were quite a few participants who had a great ability in verbalizing, it turned out to be developed into something like letters from the listeners (on the radio program). Seeing this kind of development outside of the control of the project was very interesting.
The important point was that the participants not only saw the artworks within the art “system” which in a way makes it hard to see the artist's real life outside of the art, but they input the idea that the artist is communicating with their work by linking themselves personally. We did many things during the workshops such as looking at artworks as mere objects something rather casual like something made by someone nameless, or on the contrary, as random objects on the streets as if we were in a museum.
There were also many uneasy happenings in the whole project too. For example, coming to reveal one’s own sensitive issues that are difficult to tell other people. That actually shows how the members trusted one another, though.
That was when we were working on the theme “narrowing.” We were talking about “ourselves being stuck between society and components of it” and as the definition we gave of “being stuck” was conceived as suppression, and the discussion got somewhat serious. Of course, it is also meaningful to have such an experience. However, like this time, having participants talk about their personal problems does put them under some stress and I think that it is aggressive to try to lead the conversation towards this intentionally. I think that the people who are organizing the Learning should be careful not to do so.
Although, when trying to change a personal subject into an idea, it is obvious that certain things aren’t going to be easy to make the target and it consequently becomes a problem for one as you can’t look at the whole image like you would for a map…
That is why when trying to do a project “correctly and earnestly,” it becomes difficult to do things such as “linking the art festival to ourselves.” We talked a lot about events like art festivals specifically, that though we try to make art look good and try to establish it to the region, we want to avoid the art to be seen only as a creation for the art festival as it is written on the statement and thus not connected to each person.
We chose to take detours a lot when our senses weren’t able to catch up with the speed at which the artworks were being verbalized inside ourselves.
We have been working at the CSLAB(the art center independently managed since 2010 in the Tokyo Zokei University) and have certain experiences in communicating with students who hold doubts on the system of contemporary arts and it’s learning, but with non art university students as participants, it was difficult to determine what steps to take for the progression of the project. We were in a weird balance of us as organizers wanting to teach them about art but also not wanting to make them just listen to us and follow it.
There is no goal in “understanding” as it is just impossible to set a goal for this project. There were times when we were able to share the feelings with the participants. An example was when one participant expressed one’s thoughts on a creation in the form of a poem. Doing that is switching the artwork into your own creation and that means to be experiencing the exercise of “narrowing” words, different kinds of “words” separate from the one you use daily, during the process of creating the artwork. Though it is called the Learning, we are not teachers and that made it possible to share the common feelings with participants through the process saying like “This is how it goes, you know how I feel? Oh, is that what came up for you? I understand how you feel.”
In this sense, it was interesting to see many people at the end were going in the direction of making something similar to artwork. Having members (who weren’t creators chosen for the festival) exhibit their work in a shortcut kind of way was tough.
That is true. Also, we might have been able to organize a more radical event if we were to involve people from the administration and executive offices we didn’t interview this time. Would this be a circuit that can be created due to the field of the Learning ?
This may be a discussion with an emphasis on the hypothesis…, on this occasion, the Learning programs and exhibition were in a vertically divided format and hard to access from each side. We may be able to make it more enjoyable if for example, next time we create a system and structure for the art festival that allows us to make full use of the Learning points that can be found between the exhibits and curations and learn from them.

(Text by Shimanuki Taisuke)