Concept コンセプト

The term " Scape" in the 13th century Shakespeare literature is said to be used for the first time in the implication of "escape." Extract "Scape" from "Cityscape" and connect them in the reverse order. "Scape-City" is the concept invented to investigate the “existence of a city” in contemporary society through multi-layered "Scape."

Our conceptual starting point is the cultural sector "SUWA-ANIMISM" in the Suwa Basin, Nagano prefecture, Japan known as summer resort (Hishochi) which also contain the meaning of escape from summer heat in the urban area. The uniqueness of "SUWA-ANIMISM" (historical factors, spirituality, topographical factors, etc.), which cannot be seen in theory or social movements, definitely has an element of “performative festivities” inherited since ancient era. Within it may contain various hints to approach the challenges of metropolitan society that can be shared with Singapore. That is, Japan's still Tokyo centralization and Singapore's political and economic artificial manicure. There is a possibility of an organically formed community that allows individuals to function in a group while being independent, without relying on strictly controlled and centralized discipline as in advanced metropolises. Through the practice of performance art, let us try to "Scape-City" into the world of "SUWA-ANIMISM" where “performative festivities” exists.

"Scape-City" is also a crossroad of multiple cultures. The Suwa Basin, located in the southern region of Nagano Prefecture, prospered as a key point for land transportation where many highways intersects, including Nakasendo Way and Koshu Highway. Trade activities in the region have played the role of a connecting point between the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean, West Japan and East Japan, beginning with prehistoric obsidian collection and trading. On the other hand, Singapore, located at the southern end of the Strait of Malacca, has developed as a key point for maritime traffic between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, just below the equator. Through the British colonial period to the Japanese occupation period, and the independence from Malaysian federation, the history of Singapore has been colorful by cultural negotiations involving diverse human groups around the world. In such way, Suwa Basin as
land crossings and Singapore as sea crossings, both became places where various people move, merchandise is distributed, and various cultures flow in. At these multicultural intersections conditioned by geographical specialties, various cultures infiltrated each other as gentiles came from other places. Gentiles played a central role in cultural activities and also created a new culture, even though they tended to be driven to the periphery in other settled societies. This project understands Suwa the Basin and Singapore as crossroads of multiple cultures, and shed light on the situation where the gentiles' otherness is reversed and a new culture is created. Focusing on the “place” where multiple cultures interact in this way, we will explore the possibilities of new artistic expressions and challenge international cultural exchanges that are expanding with the development of information and communication technology. By focusing on the cultural sphere "SUWA-ANIMISM" that has been cultivated in the Suwa Basin with the
myth of Suwa faith, we aim to clarify what cannot be seen in other cities where dominated by rational thinking of contemporary society. In the Suwa Basin industry, there was machine yarn that began after the Meiji Restoration and developed and flourished by the opening of the Chuo train line. There is also a precision industry developed by the relocation (Scape-City) of large-scale factories from urban areas during the World War 2, made them successfully compared as "Oriental Switzerland." However, in the case of Shimosuwa town, the main industry has decreased in shipping value (100 billion Japanese Yen in 1983 → 32.6 billion Japanese Yen in 2009, number of establishments: 465 → 230) and population also declined (27,000 in 1965 → 20,000 in 2019). This is not an "issue of this region" but an "issue of Japan as a whole," and an "issue that is common to local cities," and more specifically, also an "issue of world" that has a root in the global capitalist economy. It is is unique in the Suwa Basin (Suwa Faith, Mythic World, SUWAANIMISM) the way of responding to these challenges that lead to the global context of the global economy. It is also a contrast between Singapore's rational intersection as a young nation and Japan’s mythical intersection as an old nation.

In this project, at the Idojiri Archaeological Museum in Fujimi-cho, we will broaden our knowledge about Jomon culture that would have had "performative festivities” through a research visit to abundant artifacts such as Jomon pottery and clay figurines excavated in the area, and a workshop such as "Noyaki" open field burning of Jomon pottery. As a form of responding, we will hold a performance art event in the evening time on the site of soba and rice field where surrounded by the magnificent Southern Alps of Japan and Yatsugatake mountains. We hope to interact with the local community around the museum. And in Mitamachi Shopping Street in Shimosuwa Town, we will hold an event
"Cruising in a Hood (tentative name)," co-hosted with an autonomous local community which holds an open-air market COSMOS realized solely with the spirit of "intriguing" and " Let’s have some fun." The event is inspired by the local tradition of "Onbashira Festival" where sixteen specially-chosen fir trees are felled and then transported down a mountain, where they are then erected at the four corners of each shrine. We will also learn about Yutaka Matsuzawa (1922-2006), a Japanese conceptual art pioneer who was active since the 50’s to early 21st century. He went to the United States with a Fulbright scholarship in the 1950s, and continued to work in his hometown of Suwa after returning
to Japan. We will visit his practice in the "International Symposium" from the viewpoint of "Why Suwa." This mutual learning and exchanges with local communities and local historians brought about by short-term stays of participating artists and researchers will create a rare leaning dynamic for reviewing "the idea of city" as "Scape-City."