Now thru October 15 -Online Exhibition
September 4 – 6 -Tokyo
Conversation with artist and organizer Roy Hofer about SEED, a new exhibition focused on sustainability
SEED by ASF-a leap forward is an exhibition centered on the 17 sustainability development goals and how they affect the arts. Artists for a Sustainable Future (ASF) is a sub brand from a-space gallery, an artist focused collective, and it was designed for the new exhibition series art for a sustainable future. The exhibition SEED is divided into an online exhibition opening July 15th, 2020 and a physical exhibition opening in September at R-Startup Studio, Tokyo.
The artists featured in SEED are: from Japan; Koharu Kawakatsu, artist and organizer; Izumi Sakamoto, artist and director of the artist-in-residency project AIRY; and Satoru Takahashi, photographer. From Taiwan, Wei-yun Chang, artist, curator and organizer for a-space Taiwan. From Australia, artist Thomas C. Chung. And from Switzerland; Susi Kramer, artist; Jasmin Glaab, artist, curator and organizer; and Roy Andres Hofer, artist and organizer.
Picture This Post (PTP) interviewed Roy Hofer (RH), director of a-space gallery and ASF, about this upcoming sustainability focused exhibition, SEED.
(PTP) ASF-a leap forward is a new project focused on sustainability. Why did you create it?
(RH) ASF stands for A Sustainable Future. I see a continuity, or longevity, in the ASF project that in the future might be even more powerful and obvious. It is separate from a-space, a network of artists which from time to time exchange ideas and meet at art fairs or exhibitions, but it is also bringing people together.
I think to be different and search for the good is the right path. So many times, I was disappointed or frustrated in life, knowing I cannot depend on anybody but me. If I leave a positive footprint in this life, then my mission is accomplished.
The beauty of my work is often the unseen and the unplanned. In art schools, you are taught how to make art and how to present it – but you are taught just one possibility. I prefer it when something is not theoretical and streamlined. This whole project started coincidentally and I wanted to let the curation flow. With each project that I do, I like to use what I know about good and bad and adapt it to each show and with each individual person. That what makes life interesting to me.
For SEED, all the participating artists are new to the project, but the more we work together, the more inspired and thankful I feel. Most of the artists already had something in common with one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) created by the UN, but maybe they weren’t deeply focused on it. We all became more sensitive and aware about the SDGs through this work. I can speak only for myself, but I feel thankful that there is movement in a positive direction. Amidst all the devastation, hate and ignorance at least this show can be a positive light.
The SEED exhibition is the first exhibition under the roof of my latest project - ASF-a leap forward, which investigates the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. During the pandemic, an unplanned encounter with a creative company (RSS) from Tokyo led me to think about sustainability and our planet. In art, there were several movements which tackled environmental and social issues, but now we are facing a new situation which made us realize how fragile the world really is. I truly think that through art we can see things differently, which might help to inspire people to think differently as well.
The project started in early March, in Japan. The schedule to roll out this new group exhibition, with artists from east and west, was challenging due to the current, fragile situation. Initially it was planned for July, but we had to postpone it. Therefore, we will launch our first online room experience on July 15, but the physical show will open in September. The online exhibition will show some different works from the participating artists of “SEED,” and we also will do some online talks via Instagram.
Since the exhibition and the project are new, we hope that as many people as possible can see it and get some inspiration from it. What I have experienced during the lockdown (or emergency state in Japan) is that many people started painting, drawing or just being creative. In that sense, we are just another source to feed the audience’s creativity. But because we also want to serve as a forum, it would be nice to have an engaged audience which is interested in asking questions and taking part in some open talks during the SEED exhibition, online and in person.
What is your role in the exhibition SEED?
I consider myself as an artist-organizer who initiated the project. And I have chosen artists to exhibit from my network at a-space. I also consider myself a maker and a connector. Since my childhood, I have been organizing events and being creative. Sometimes it is good to question a system and therefore search for other ways to express myself and help others express themselves too. It makes it more fun together…
My own artwork, which is especially made for the exhibition SEED, deals with all of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Each goal has its own color, as seen as on the UN-created logo, and I took these colors to use in my artwork. I created t-shirts, each of them in a different color, with a circle and a different statement from me about the SDGs. My roots are in the graffiti movement of the 90s, so I am deeply aware of typography and text. The artwork can be seen as a whole but people can also pick pieces out of it, one by one, much like the UN logo of the SDGs.
What brought you to Tokyo? How has living in Tokyo impacted your work as an artist or organizer?
Tokyo is the hometown of my wife, so it became my second home. We have lived here for a while due to personal circumstances. My seven year old son goes to school in Tokyo and we pretty much feel at home here. As an artist, the city inspires me a lot and you can see that in my body of work.
What does sustainability mean to you? How is sustainability a part of SEED?
I got more sensitive about future issues when I became a father, seven years ago.
Sustainability means to me to be more aware about my own actions towards the planet and towards my environment. I wanted to do something worthwhile, but really, I started this project without any strategic plan. I believe that destiny and various circumstances helped me to focus my thoughts and organize SEED.
The fact that we are a hybrid is in a way sustainable. We try to help each other and bring together people from various cultures - that is sustainable. But in terms of transporting our art materials, we can still improve.