CO-OP Encounters #6: TOKYO PHOTOGRAPHIC RESEARCH

by Unseen2 August 20 2018

Unseen CO-OP is back for its second edition. Introduced to increase the representation of artist-run initiatives and collectives worldwide, CO-OP encourages artists to present challenging works of art, dynamic presentations and new commercial formats. In the coming months, we’ll be speaking to each of the participating collectives to find out more about the collaborative processes that drive their practice forward.

This week we catch up with Taisuke Koyama, Director of TOKYO PHOTOGRAPHIC RESEARCH. Perfectly encapsulating the rhythm of today’s Tokyo, TOKYO PHOTOGRAPHIC RESEARCH places the artist’s perspective on a pedestal, using a multi-media approach to explore the profile of Tokyo City, while working collectively to respect and verify the commonalities and differences among participating artists.

What inspired you to start working as a collective?
We believe that there are multi-actual images of Tokyo that can be embodied by collective attitude. After living in London and Amsterdam in total for four years, when I returned to my home town of Tokyo at the end of 2017, I was planning to do a project focusing on Tokyo again. In the beginning, Tokyo Photographic Research was my solo project, but Junya Yamamine, a friend of mine and a curator suggested me the importance of working as a collective, and it made more sense to me. We respect and verify the commonalities and differences among participating artists. From that standpoint, we would like to explore and emphasise the profile of latent of the city Tokyo.

How has working as a collective changed the way you interact with the art market?
Since we have just started Tokyo Photographic Research, we do not yet exactly know how collective activities change the relationship with the art market. Our activities do not intend to demonstrate immediacy in the current art market, but our activities are rather for the future archive. However, participating in CO-OP for Unseen is a wonderful opportunity for us. I think that it is very healthy to connect with many people including art collectors and supporters through our collective activities.

What sets you apart from other collectives?
It may sounds paradoxical, but we believe that we don't need to limit ourselves in the idea of “being a collective”. TOKYO PHOTOGRAPHIC RESEARCH even accepts the anonymity. The most important thing is the artist’s perspective and their works. We created a system and platform for the project to invite more than 10 artists in two years.  We will make a website, leaflets, a photo book at the end of the project, and organise a group exhibition as a project final output. In other words, all our activities are directed towards the process of archiving the artist’s intention. We are also focusing not only on works but also on our dialogues through their practice. On our website, we will archive audio conversations with artists’ works. Our activities in a way are sowing the seeds for the society after the Tokyo Olympic Games.

What do you have in store for us at Unseen Amsterdam 2018?
We will bring some works of Taisuke Koyama which were made for Tokyo Photographic Research project #01. We will also bring some tether materials by another artist for the project #02 which will be published in November 2018. In addition, we will publish a free poster made from Japanese washi paper and current Tokyo materials. This will be the world’s premiere of this paper!

Image: Interface 039, Interface, 2018 © Taisuke Koyama