The Barter Project

The Barter Project in Tokyo came to an end on 23 Jan. The following article was written to sum up the experience in Tokyo.

*link to the list and photos of the exchanged artworks and items

                                                                                                                                                                                

The Barter Project
At the Arts Living Space Co・iki, Sengawa, Tokyo (http://co-iki.org/en_US/)
22 Nov 2016 – 23 Jan 2017

 

I looked at the three brushes in my hand. Natsumi said, these brushes were from her grandpa. Her grandpa liked to create poetry, write calligraphy and make painting when he was alive. By passing down his brushes, he hoped that the young generation would carry on his spirit and will in creation.

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  • The snowfall at Sengawa around end of November.

Three months before that, I was planning to apply for the artist residency Co-iki in Tokyo. I was wondering, as a painter, what art project I should carry out in a place I have never been to in order to interact with the local people. What methods could I use to know more about the place and the people living over there?

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  • One of the cats from the neighbour. We were staring at each other.

Then, I came up with the Barter Project. People were invited to exchange any item with my work created during the two-month stay. The artwork would be used as a medium to facilitate interaction between the participant and me.

Co-iki was where I stayed, worked and met up with people. Some people came with great interest in the project, some people came to try the Malaysian cuisine out of curiosity (yes, we did a lot of cooking too). Some participants scrutinised my artwork patiently and exchanged with items which they had carefully picked. Some participants stressed more on the interaction and the item exchange was nothing more than a symbolic act. Nonetheless, every single experience was equally interesting and meant a lot to me.

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  • During one of the cooking events at the Co-iki. Unexpectedly, cooking and food played a big assisting role for the Barter Project.

Throughout the project, the process involved studio visiting, party, cooking and having meal together, to name a few. Usually, the conversation started without any given topics. We talked about food, lifestyle, hobby, travelling and much more. Oh yes, sometimes art as well.

In this way, the Barter Project became a way of interaction instead of economic trading. I received a bottle of sake from a participant’s hometown, a handful of 70s postcards passed down by a participant’s grandma, a drawing from an Indian student who studied art in Tokyo, etc.

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  • (Left) Visitors are viewing artwork after having a Malaysian meal together at the Co-iki.
  • (Right) A towel exchanged by the participant for wishing me good luck and happiness.

Hopefully, those who participated in the project had a rewarding experience from the story sharing as well as in the process of selecting artworks and items for exchange. Be the different experience gained ended up with a better understanding of oneself, or being inspired or motivated in any future endeavour.

Natsumi said, passing her grandpa’s brushes to someone after some years, to her, was an act of completing her own “project.”

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  • Conversation with one of the participants and the Co-iki members.

Coincidently, the most touching experience I had in Tokyo was about item exchange. Not long after I arrived at Tokyo, I went for an evening run in the neighbourhood. Unfortunately, I broke somebody’s car park chain by running into it due to the darkness of early winter evening. I was not injured but was extremely nervous. The owners, apparently a couple in their 60s, came out in surprise but immediately gave me friendly gestures with their smiley faces. The old man knelt down to fix the chain and kept asking to me to go home. “Home back, home back.” It is Ok, never mind, they said. The lady, with a pet dog in her arms, gave me two mandarins before I left. A week prior to leaving Tokyo, I went to their place again and handed them a pack of Japanese traditional snack. In return, the man insisted to give me a pack of peanuts. “Oishi, oishi (delicious),” he said. That was one of the very few Japanese words I understood.

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  • I had a great “Osechi” (traditional Japanese New Year foods) experience at the Co-iki on the first day of 2017.

During the stay, 24 artworks were made and 20 of them were exchanged. I appreciate the sincerity and effort the participants put in during the interaction and story sharing. The project would not be realised without their active participation.

A few days before leaving for Malaysia, I received several things from Ikuko in exchange for a paper-cutting rooster I made for the New Year. She told me about her dad who worked hard in painting picture on cardboard after his retirement from his own paint store. However, he had to stop painting due to his eye disease.

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  • The sushi chef, Aoki, with his portrait. This is the final work I made in Tokyo. 

Two days later, I was sitting in Mr. Watanabe’s studio looking at him showing his painting in enthusiasm. He was recently busy with making a photo book of all his artworks. He had already made plenty of drafts regarding the book.

“Choose whichever painting you like for an exchange,” he said. In his studio, plenty of his works were standing against each other on the floor or lying in boxes. I got a painting which he made in his 70s. It was a work depicting a forest in blue tone.

I was well-motivated by the visit. He shook my hand hardly before I left.

While the Barter Project commenced with my art-making and followed by the exchange of items, I think, ultimately, the interaction between the participants and me has transcended the meaning of the objects. (end)

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  • During the sharing event at the Co-iki two days before leaving Japan.

The List and Photos of Exchanged Artworks/Items

1lq

We Strolled Around, ink on paper, 35 x 65 cm ⇔ Painting (unframed) 27.5 x 70.7 cm

Acrylic on canvas, unframed.
A work acquired by the participant during his solo motorcycle trip in Myanmar from a street artist.

 

2lq

Web above the Houses, watercolour on paper, 25.2 x 35.5 cm ⇔ Drawing (unframed): 30.1 x 21.3 cm

Colour pen on paper, unframed.
Drawing by the participant. As a student of traditional Japanese art, she showed a different side of her interest and talent in this work. We exchanged information of materials and techniques of Chinese art and Japanese art as well.

 

3lq

I ran around in the Neighbourhood, ink on paper, 34 x 60 cm ⇔ Photograph (framed) Photograph: 20.8 x 29.5 cm; frame: 25 x 33.7 cm

Photograph shot in Shozu Island.
This photo was taken in the participant’s early 20s when she was working part-time in Shozu Island. The old shrine was in a remote part of the island where was rarely visited by the local people. The torri first came into her sight after she walked through bushes and climbed up a slope. In front of the torri sitting a huge rock which was used for worshipping.

 

4lq

Wandering, ink on paper, 29.7 x 42 cm ⇔ Photograph (unframed): 10 x 14.5 cm

Graphic design by participant.
This work in relation to memento mori is inspired by the monk Ikkyū.

⇔ Bonsai: 8.4 x 8.7 x 7.5 cm

Japanese black pine growing kit; kuromatsu (黒松).
The bonsai symbolises the participant’s expectation of my future project. Both items implied the meaning of life and growth, I took them as blessing and spur to my career.

 

5lq

On my Way, ink on paper, 29.7 x 42 cm ⇔ Brush (x3): 21 cm, 21 cm, 24 cm

Brushes from the participant’s grandfather.
These brushes were passed down several years ago by the participant’s grandpa who liked to write calligraphy, make poem and create art. Her grandpa hoped that the young generation would carry on his will and spirit in art creation with his brushes. By handing me the brushes, the participant saw the act itself as a completion of her own project.

 

6lq

Please Ring the Right Bell, watercolour on paper, 28.3 x 19.5 cm ⇔ Stamp-carving dedicated eraser (x2): 5 x 7.4 x 1.1 cm

Manufacturer: Hankeshi-Kun
The participant hoped that I would create something interesting with the stamp-carving erasers.

 

7alq  7blq

*With the same participant

Some Neighbourhood, watercolour on paper, 25 x 35.2 cm ⇔ Towel (x2) 35 x 80 cm

Cotton; Chiyo gami towel, chusen method of hand-dying.
Knowing that I had been jogging in the neighbourhood, the participant thought that towels would be a good fit for me. On top of that, the participant wished me good fortune and happiness. Maneki-neko (“fortune cat”) and Daruma doll symbolise good fortune and best wishes.

 

The Order of Time: it’s Christmas Again, pencil on paper, 29.7 x 21 cm ⇔ Towel (Tenugui): 91.2 x 38.2 cm Cotton; Rienzome Tenugui (梨園染).

The images of bird, Mount Fuji and eggplant symbolise happiness and luck.

⇔ Notepad: 9 x 13 cm Paper

from Mitsuo Aida Museum (相田みつを美術館). The poem printed on the cover brought out the meaning of wishing happiness.

⇔ Book: 19.8 x 22.4 cm

Frutta; photo book by the participant’s daughter who is studying art.

 

8lq

Christmas Time: the Urban Theme, pencil on paper, 29.7 x 21 cm ⇔ Sumo ranking poster: 57.8 x 44.1 cm

Paper; from Ryogoku Kokugikan (Sumo Stadium).
The image of torri in my work Christmas Time: the Urban Theme reminded the participant about the traditional Japanese culture and custom. Therefore, in return, she exchanged the Sumo ranking poster with the artwork as an introduction of the Sumo culture to me.

 

9lq

Christmas Time: the Undersea Theme, pencil on paper, 29.7 x 21 cm ⇔ Postcards (x2): 10 x 14.8 cm

Photo by Yuka Saito.
With the photos of horses, the participant introduced me the annual horse-racing event held in Hokkaido.

⇔ Book: 20.9 x 14.8 cm

日本の絶景 (Spectacular View of Japan)
Publisher: JTB Publishing
Release date: 2014/12/15
Size: 159 p
ISBN: 978-4-533-10128-1
This book shows the stunning view of various places in Japan. It will be a good guide for me in planning future trips to Japan!

⇔ Sake (纯米ミニ菰樽): 300ml

Manufacturer: 高砂酒造株式会社 (Takasago Shuzo); Asahikawa (北海道旭川市)
The sake is made in the participant’s hometown with local produce and water. Alongside with the postcards, this exchange told me about the place where she grew up and came from which indeed raised my interest to explore it further in the future.

 

10lq

Christmas Time: the Sky Theme, pencil on paper, 29.7 x 21 cm ⇔ Cap: 20 x 33 x 15 cm

Cap with elk antlers; outer: cotton, lining: polyster.
The participant exchanged this cap with me during a Christmas party.
* He suggested to meet up in Melbourne to “finish up” the exchange as the cap is more like a gift.

 

11lq

Please Open the Door, watercolour on paper, 24.5 x 35.5 cm ⇔ Drawing (unframed): 32.7 x 25.2 cm

Graphite on paper by participant; copied drawing by Yasui Satora.
The participant is interested in drawing and is taking a weekly art class. The exchange showed an act of sharing her work with me.

⇔ Black tea (x2): 4g

Sakura tea. It is a sharing of Japanese taste.

 

12lq

Year of Roaster, paper cutting and watercolour ⇔ Tissue box casing (x2): 12.7 x 25.5 x 6 cm

Textile on PVC cube; handmade by participant’s grandmother in her 90s.

⇔ Yo-kai Watch stickers (x20)

PVC.
My series of Christmas artwork reminded her of Yo-kai Watch.

⇔ Towel: 33 x 90 cm

Cotton; Nassen (捺染) dying method.

⇔ Miso: 55g

ゆずこしょう味噌 (Yuzukoshi miso); manufacturer: Marushou Jozo (丸正醸造).
The participant had tried the Sambal (chili paste) I made in one of the Malaysian food cooking events. She would like me to try something similar which was the spicy miso paste in return.

⇔ Furikake: 45g

ふりかけセット(Furikake setto); manufacturer: 鈴木鰹節店 (Suzuki Bonjin store).
It is a sharing of Japanese taste.

⇔ Packaging: 24.7 x 11.5 cm (Paper)

We had extended our interaction further by visiting the participant’s parents’ place. (*refer to Street View) The participant invited me to their place to visit her father who enjoyed painting a lot.

 

13lq

City View, ink on paper, 29.7 x 42 cm⇔ Shield: 29.2 x 38.7 x 0.5 cm

Wooden.
The shield was bought by the participant in Saint Michel, France a few years ago.

 

14lq

The Roofs, ink on paper, 27 x 42.2 cm ⇔ Sengawa (仙川) map: 72.1 x 51.2 cm

Paper.
The Roofs which was inspired by the Sengawa neighbourhood had somehow, by its form, drawn a connection to the Sengawa map. However, ultimately, the Sengawa map represented the experience and memories of my stay in Sengawa, if not the whole trip in Tokyo. Exchanged by the participant and host of the residency, it also symbolised the interactions between the participants and me were tightly connected to the place.

 

15lq

Good Night, City, ink on paper, 28 x 40.8 cm ⇔ Postcard (x8): 14.9 x 10.8 cm (x5), 10.5 x 14.8 cm (x3); Ticket: 14.2 x 7 cm

Paper; from the Yuzo Saeki (佐伯祐三) exhibition, 1978; from the Van Dongen exhibition, 1978.
These postcards were passed down from the participant’s grandma. These were from her favourite art shows in the 70s. Some of the postcards reminded the participant of my works. Ticket is from the Van Dongen exhibition, 1978.

16lq

Street View, ink on paper, 24.2 x 27.2 cm ⇔ Painting: 42 x 53.3 cm

Latex paint on paper.
This work was made by the participant in his 70s. He enjoyed and worked hard on painting after his retirement until he suffered from an eye disease. Lately, he is making a photo book to include all his works. I was well-motivated and inspired by his effort as a self-taught artist.

 

17lq

Street View in Sengawa, ink on paper, 24.2 x 27.2 cm ⇔ Magazine: 28.4 x 21.4 cm

世田谷ライフmagazine (Setagaya Magazine), 57 (2016)
Publisher: 枻出版社 (Yi)
Size: 128 p
ISBN: 978-4-7779-4021-9
The participant handed me this magazine with the intention to introduce me to Sengawa and the nearby town.

 

18lq

City in the Darkness, ink on paper, 28 x 29 cm ⇔ Soy beans (福豆) (x2): 38g

Manufacturer: 森八 (Moribachi).
It is a sharing of Japanese taste.

 

19lq

Aoki Sang the Sushi Chef, pencil on paper, 42 x 29.7 cm ⇔ T-shirt: XL (Cotton)

⇔ Jacket: M

The jacket was from the Tsukiji market festival.

⇔ Magnet (x6): 1 x 2 x 0.9 cm

Manufacturer: Midori.

⇔ Shopping bag: 45 x 45 cm (Cotton)

I met the participant in the sushi shop where he worked. I was inspired to draw him a portrait while looking at him making sushi. The items from him were the best souvenirs to remember such experience.

 

          

 

City in the Darkness

23

City in the Darkness, ink on paper, 28 x 29 cm, 2017. (Sengawa, Tokyo)

 

*This work is part of The Barter Project taken place in Tokyo.

The Barter Project invites you to exchange a work of art by the artist with any item. Yi Pei welcomes you to view and reserve the artwork you are interested in and meet up with him to exchange it with an item you select. With the story embedded in Yi Pei’s art-making as well as the story brought by you alongside your item, the Barter Project encourages a reciprocal act that aims to facilitate a conversation.

https://lohyipei.com/category/barter-project/

http://co-iki.org/en_US/member-project/

Street View in Sengawa

22.-Street-View-in-Sengawa,-ink-on-paper,-24.2x27

Street View in Sengawa, ink on paper, 24.2 x 27.2 cm, 2017. (Sengawa, Tokyo)

 

*This work is part of The Barter Project taken place in Tokyo.

The Barter Project invites you to exchange a work of art by the artist with any item. Yi Pei welcomes you to view and reserve the artwork you are interested in and meet up with him to exchange it with an item you select. With the story embedded in Yi Pei’s art-making as well as the story brought by you alongside your item, the Barter Project encourages a reciprocal act that aims to facilitate a conversation.

https://lohyipei.com/category/barter-project/

http://co-iki.org/en_US/member-project/

Street View

 

21.-Street-View,-ink-on-paper,-24.2x27

Street View, ink on paper, 24.2 x 27.2 cm, 2017. (Sengawa, Tokyo)

 

*This work is part of The Barter Project taken place in Tokyo.

The Barter Project invites you to exchange a work of art by the artist with any item. Yi Pei welcomes you to view and reserve the artwork you are interested in and meet up with him to exchange it with an item you select. With the story embedded in Yi Pei’s art-making as well as the story brought by you alongside your item, the Barter Project encourages a reciprocal act that aims to facilitate a conversation.

https://lohyipei.com/category/barter-project/

http://co-iki.org/en_US/member-project/

Good Night, City

 

20.-Good-Night,-City,-ink-on-paper,-28x40

Good Night, City, ink on paper, 28 x 40.8 cm, 2017. (Sengawa, Tokyo)

 

*This work is part of The Barter Project taken place in Tokyo.

The Barter Project invites you to exchange a work of art by the artist with any item. Yi Pei welcomes you to view and reserve the artwork you are interested in and meet up with him to exchange it with an item you select. With the story embedded in Yi Pei’s art-making as well as the story brought by you alongside your item, the Barter Project encourages a reciprocal act that aims to facilitate a conversation.

https://lohyipei.com/category/barter-project/

http://co-iki.org/en_US/member-project/

The Roofs

19.-The-Roofs,-ink-on-paper,-27x42

The Roofs, ink on paper, 27 x 42.2 cm, 2017. (Sengawa, Tokyo)

 

*This work is part of The Barter Project taken place in Tokyo.

The Barter Project invites you to exchange a work of art by the artist with any item. Yi Pei welcomes you to view and reserve the artwork you are interested in and meet up with him to exchange it with an item you select. With the story embedded in Yi Pei’s art-making as well as the story brought by you alongside your item, the Barter Project encourages a reciprocal act that aims to facilitate a conversation.

https://lohyipei.com/category/barter-project/

http://co-iki.org/en_US/member-project/