A Full Moon waning,

Un chameau sur le toit, Masashi had written on  a piece of paper along with the name of the place where I was to show up around 7pm – Higure and a drawing of a long road coming out of the north exit of Nipori Subway Station. There was the word, escalier and a long arrow pointing to a few lines drawn across the road  where I had to turn to the right and walk til I found Higure. Why hadn’t I asked Masashi more questions about what Higure would look like?

I wondered as I hurried along a narrow snow-covered dark winding road stretching between houses that were so close I felt like I could almost reach out and  touch both sides. Yanaka, Masashi had said, is an older part of Tokyo, untouched – a rarity in a city where everything seems brand new. I was remembering, Le chameau sur le toit,  the camel on the roof,  thinking that must mean something and almost as I thought about it, I caught a glimpse of a  yellow humped-back shape jutting up into the night sky from a third-floor roof. The lights were on and people inside. The front doors were sliding wooden ones with tiny panes of glass and I couldn’t figure out which one to open and as I stood back to have a better look, a young man approached and with one quick movement the door was open. The room was a gallery space filled with book-like objects and there was music. I noticed a small stairway to the right and headed down, carefully watching were I placed my feet. There seemed to be a bowl of cat food and water on each step and a general sense of clutter that I had not yet encountered in Tokyo. Already, I felt more at ease. Higure1

I opened the door to a small, dark, low-ceilinged space. There were ten or so people all in concrentrated discussion seated around a low table that seemed to fill the room. There was a projection at the end of the room and furniture and old a-v equipement lined the walls of the room. A chair was offered and I sat down. More people came and finally it was my turn to present.  It was soon obvious that my MAC was not going to connect to the projector with any of the available plugs. Someone suggested transferring the files to a key and a key was found. It took 10 minutes to transfer as I had a lot of video files. Once that was ready, we realized that the PC connected to the projector did not have any programs capable of running the video files. Just as we were all settling in to watch the first video on my laptop, a steady leak started dripping from the floor above onto the middle of the table. I laughed to myself, thinking, this is perfect and let myself just go with the crazy flow.

Several people spoke excellent english and were able to translate, including curator, Makiko Hara who studied at Concordia and curates for Centre A in Vancouver -presently preparing an exhibition in Yokohama. Yoichiro the director of Higure said that the programming for Higure is set for this coming year, but he is responsible for a new installation space that will be opening in March and that we should discuss the possibility of exhibiting my work there.  Someone asked about my residency and wanted to know where it was. Roppongi, I answered and the room filled with strange looks and a chorus of Roppongi!!! why Roppongi? Don’t ask me is all I could say. What do you think of here? I was asked. It feels like home, I said. It feels anti-roppongi.  And so we laughed and talked and ate and it was good. It was time to share business cards and I could not find any in my bag. I tore up a sheet of paper that I found and scribbled out my email and website address and handed them around. The cat came in and Yoichiro grabbed him and fed him something that looked like fish from a bag. Kuro he said is his name, it sounded like crow. Black he said, Kuro means black and black he was, a well loved cat. I even got a 5 minute shoulder massage from a nice young man seated beside me. That was the cherry on the cake. Higure cake. Wow! How many doors have I tried to open and they just stay shut and here I have not even tried and they are opening.    (Photos of Yoichiro Ozawa and Masashi Ogura)Higure3