Ichigo-Ichie 一期一会: One Time – One Meeting offered three unique tearoom experiences for visitors at Nuit Blanche at the JCCC on Oct. 1. Photo credit: Dr. Jonathan Eto.
TORONTO — During Nuit Blanche, the city comes alive at night to showcase and celebrate contemporary art in Toronto. Running all night long, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., art enthusiasts and anyone curious can hop between various locations across Toronto, from Etobicoke to Downtown Toronto, North York, and Scarborough.
For the first time, the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre joined in on the fun of Nuit Blanche, as hundreds of people dropped in throughout the night to explore contemporary art at the centre.
A beacon in the dark, visitors followed a trail lit by string lights through the Japanese garden and up to the warm glow of the Heritage Court. There, they found tables with origami paper and diagrams surrounded by people trying to make various folded paper art.
During the evening, visitors could explore the current exhibits at the JCCC, A Place of Pride and Women of Change, and the permanent exhibit Maru: Immigration Stories. Guided tours of Maru were offered at 7:30, 9:30, and 11:30.
For the evening, the JCCC highlighted the work of three Japanese Canadian artists and one Japanese Brazilian artist, Maari Sugawara, Annie Sumi, Brian Kobayakawa, and Erica Kaminishi. While completely different from each other, each art installation involved a multi-level exploration of Nikkei identity and the Japanese diaspora.
Algorithms of Innocence by Maari Sugawara
Algorithms of Innocence was the JCCC Gallery’s featured exhibit for Nuit Blanche, with artist Maari Sugawara present for artist talks at 8:30 and 10:30. Algorithms of Innocence is a multimedia exhibition truly best experienced in person. Visitors entered the darkened JCCC gallery and were immediately mesmerized by Sugawara’s work.
Various projections, videos, recordings, and a virtual reality display play simultaneously. Using virtual reality, animation, videography, and music, Sugawara explores and questions the Japanese national and cultural identity.
“It’s my first solo show, and it’s really exciting that I am featured in Nuit Blanche,” Sugawara tells Nikkei Voice.
An artist, researcher, translator, writer, and soon-to-be Ph.D. student, Sugawara uses her personal experiences and stories to question and explore concepts of home and displacement, Japan’s Imperial past and future, violence, and sexuality.
“My work is protest art; it is very visual and kind of graphic. It’s a good tool to appeal to audiences who may not be familiar with the issues I’m exploring in my work,” says Sugawara. “All of my works are narrative-based and told through a very personal lens. I consider it a way to break down concepts [for audiences] to feel these in a more relatable way.”
Kintsugi by Annie Sumi and Brian Kobayakawa
A beautifully intimate interactive art installation, Kintsugi invites participants to sit at a Singer sewing machine and press the foot pedal.
When they do, folk singer Annie Sumi‘s hauntingly beautiful voice fills the room, and a projection show begins on a sheet draped in front of the participant. But, if they stop pumping the pedal, the music and projection stops.
Sumi and Brian Kobayakawa created Kintsugi with the help of the shadow-puppeteer duo, Mind of Snail, where shadows tell a story over projections of landscapes, letters, and animations.
Kintsugi connects fragments and pieces of Kobayakawa and Sumi’s stories to reflect on racial identity, healing, and ancestral trauma.
All in one, one in All by Erica Kaminishi
Created by third-generation Japanese Brazilian artist Erica Kaminishi, the interactive art installation waits at the end of Maru: Immigration Stories. Maru is the JCCC’s new permanent exhibit, which explores the stories of the Japanese diaspora in North and South America.
Visitors take sticky notes shaped like water droplets, signifying the long journeys on ships Nikkei took to the Americas. Visitors are encouraged to draw or write anything that means home to them. All in one, one in All can hold 1,500 sticky notes at once. As the panel fills, the centre documents the diverse interpretations and conceptions of what home means to all who see the exhibit.
Ichigo-Ichie: One Time – One Meeting by Helen Kong, Secret Teatime
Visitors step into the hushed quiet of the Heritage Lounge, where three tea rooms have emerged for the night. The independent project was created by Helen Kong, owner of Secret Teatime and a ceramicist and tea practitioner. Kong worked with a team of artists, makers, designers, tea practitioners, and small businesses to create the tea rooms.
Visitors could choose between one of three tea rooms, a Japanese, Taiwanese, or Chinese tea space, for a unique spiritual experience.
Learn more about the Annie Sumi and Brian Kobayakawa’s current exhibit Kitsugu here.