After some serious Googling for artist-led projects in and around Tokyo, I ended up following a link to the Yaribi gallery. As is often the case in these situations, I’m following a link from an English-language site to a Japanese one, so I tend to get most of my information from the link rather than the site itself. In this case:

Yaribi is a little wooden hut constructed illegally on the roof of the painting department of Tama University by a number of students. They organise exhibitions in it. …The structure will stay on the roof for a while, and has the support of a number of professors. I suggested they perhaps involve curating and critical studies students as well as artists, to try create a broader public platform. Anyway, it is wonderful to see such initiatives in the normally rather quiet and reserved spaces of art schools.

All the universities here are just closing down for their Summer vacation so I thought I’d missed an opportunity to visit Yaribi, but fortunately they had two Open Campus days just at the time when I was staying at a friend’s house close by.

tamabi view

The campus is on a hillside on what I assume is the edge of Hashimoto. The buildings are that Eastern Asian concrete type of institutional architecture that I somehow simultaneously find quite uplifting but also incredibly bland. Hmmm.

painting east

Anyway, I finally tracked down the East painting building and the Yaribi rooftop.

Thanks to the language barrier again, I’m really not in a position to be able to say much about either the show or the organisational set-up but as far as I can make out there was previously a more ramshackle construction on the site that was made more solid in the early months of this year.

Thanks to some sheets of hardboard, some scaffolding, a website and a few judiciously placed tarpaulins, Yaribi seemed to me to be a really viable exhibition space. There are quite a large number of staff (a mix of current and graduated students?) and, judging from their website, a busy programme.

I’m really excited that something like this is happening, although I’m not really sure how autonomous it is and it’s still very much within the ‘safe zone’ of an art university (and probably within the students’ own department at that). I’d love to see more of this Outside, both in Japan and in Brum.

Could the use of scaffolding lend itself to a modular approach and a space that could be quite mobile? …or is it the semblance of something permanent that gives this project its strength?