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Friday, Nov. 16, 2012

News photo
Kanda spirit: Artist Go Watanabe stands in front of a piece he created for Trans Arts Tokyo in the city's Kanda district. TOMOKO OTAKE


Community art project pops up

Staff Writer

A soon-to-be-demolished school building might sound too spooky to be a venue for an art show, but that's precisely where Trans Arts Tokyo is being held.

The 17 above-ground floors and two basement floors that used to belong to Tokyo Denki University in the Kanda district have been turned into a playground for more than 200 artists and designers from 16 different genres. The project, organized by the Tokyo University of the Arts and operated by the art nonprofit Command N (which also runs 3331 Arts Chiyoda), is part of a grassroots movement to create a new community art center in Kanda.

Organizers hope to impress with the diversity of art on display, as artists have turned former offices and classrooms into their own, often wacky, exhibition spaces. Tokyo-based design firm ASYL, for example, has engaged in a typography exercise, covering the walls of one room in black, on which typed in white gigantic letters is "K-E-I-D-A-N-R-E-N," similar to the business lobby group's logo that adorns a tall office building across the street. Artist Go Watanabe, meanwhile, has filled the walls of what appears to have been a faculty office with a "Tetris"-like mosaic of colorful headlines and ad copy cut out from women's fashion magazines.

"These magazines seem to expose the desires and inferiority complexes of young women," Watanabe says. "I wanted to examine how these words look as a group ... and I'm enjoying the reaction of visitors."

Trans Arts Tokyo is being held in the former 11th building of Tokyo Denki University until Nov. 25. Guided tours are available on weekends. Admission is ¥500. For more information, call (080) 4860-3331 or visit www.kanda-tat-com.

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