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Sakura Machi Portraits

Kanazawa, Japan 2016

As resident artists of Sanki Bunko, a hybrid library, gallery and cafe housed in a renovated machiya, we explored the challenges of this life-style. Created by Nakamori Akane, a performance artist and curator, and her husband, Mori Hitoshi, an art historian passionate about collecting books, their unique library of 25,000 items draws researchers, artists and historians. Through Akane-san, we participated in the 21st Century Museum’s FRINGE a new program urging artistic practice beyond the museum walls.

Instead of an educational workshop, we developed a participatory neighborhood conversation. Through our research of the machiyas’ disappearance, many explained the challenges of cleaning and maintaining this old-style building. We reached out to neighbors through door-to-door visits, listening parties and a neighborhood celebration. Participants shared their favorite cleaning tool along with poignant stories. Their portraits and cleaning reflections were displayed in the neighborhood bulletin board and projected in a local machiya.