There’s the air of party around the graduation show at Tokyo University of the Arts, or Geidai. As if everyone knows how everybody knows that this moment is never to be repeated. Never to be repeated. After all, when else might they feel such imminence, as they prepare to leave behind their luxuries, the time and space, the encouragement to work, the fellowship and support?

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The artists are coming from the masters programme, so there’s a bit more to it than your average student show. There are misses and hits. There is quantity, and variety and vitality. Enough to encourage you to try and come back before it closes in a couple of days. You moved from floor to floor, building to building, from sculpture to oil-painting, nihon-ga, wood- and metal-crafts including furniture, kimono, and installation. On a patch of mud between buildings there is a noise-music video of a man’s twisting back muscles, an installation cleverly housed (quarantined?) in a shipping container. A few metres away is another work comprising a deep hole in the dank soil into which the artist climbs a couple of times of day, to do what, you’re not sure, but it’s called something like Heartbeat and there is an intercom into the hole.

She says the femininity references the women who have operated looms since the beginning of weaving.

geidai kimonogeidai benchgeidai izumi
Look, here’s a set of Seventies-quoting, bikini-babe wall hangings. There’s a curious tension between the conservative sort of weave and the racy images. And what’s this, in the crowded space, someone appears interested in your interest in these works. It’s the artist, Izumi Fujie. She tells you, they are self-portraits, woven from rayon on Scandinavian hand-looms, in herringbone and traditional-Japanese patterns. She says the femininity references the women who have operated looms since the beginning of weaving. Now as she is leaving Geidai, she has to find her own loom. She will set it up at home, though her dad says, No weaving at night.

geidai marijana
In the next gallery, past the exact facsimiles of decaying ancient scroll paintings, Marijana Anđelić tells you about An Unexpected Meeting. She is enrolled at one of the three schools of Nihon-ga, working with washi, mineral pigments, gold-and-silver leaf and other collage techniques. There’s a strong story element. The reflection is a little like her life in Japan, Marija says. Real and unreal, more real than real. You see what she means, in the way you’re being looked at by that woman who may be in the water. In places Marijana used coarser pigments in order to get that shimmer from the minerals. Her challenge now is to find homes for her work, temporary or otherwise, since in order to graduate she must produce 10 of around this size. She says, They’re not made for Japanese apartments.

If reality would just stretch a bit further.

(As popular as the show may be, on your way here, on the muddy knoll near the National Museum, you pass an impressive queue for something else: a soup kitchen.)

geidai containergeidai video
geidai soup kitchen

ひみつ The Secret
Rayon yarn, double weaving, twill weaving
Izumi Fujie

邂逅 An Unexpected Meeting
Japanese paper, mineral pigments, silver leaf, sumi ink
Marijana Anđelić

四季 花々草々 SHIKI hanahanakusakusa
Aya Watanabe

Laminated beech
Nobusuke Harimura

unseeable rigidness for Visual and Music
Audio-visual, shipping container
Keisuke Yagisawa