Joshua Sofaer

Rubbish Events

And so to my final post. I am writing this entry with only two more nights in Japan. If everything goes according to plan, I will be in the UK by the end of the week. I still haven’t packed a thing. Despite not buying any clothes I seem to have amassed a good extra suitcase worth of stuff in the last two and a half months. (What? No clothes? None at all? And to think that you went from XS to M overnight and you didn’t even bother to take advantage of the situation!)

The majority of the last two weeks have been spent in my library in a range of different posts – but mainly as librarian and waiter. It has been very nice to see the space being used.

01 RLLR general use

The reactions have been generally very good. Children seem to love it. There has been more bewilderment than I had expected. I thought that it was quite an easy project to understand and encounter. Some people walk through one door, see me sitting at my desk and walk straight through the other door, looking for the ‘art’ and not understanding what this ‘office’ is doing in the middle of a studio.

The Rubbish Library / Library Rubbish events have helped to activate the space.

Champagne Reception
Saturday 6 December 7-7.30 pm
Do you work in the garbage collection or recycling industries? Then you are welcome to this exclusive private view of the Rubbish Library / Library Rubbish. You will be given the chance to browse the shelves of the library while sipping champagne.

Well despite quite a bit of cajoling, no rubbish collectors showed up. There I was in my bowtie and apron with the beautifully hand crafted champagne cups made out of plastic green tea bottles, forlornly waiting for guests that never arrived.

02 binmen

To be honest, we pretty much knew that this was a step too far for Moriya but it was still disappointing. The piece operated for the art crowd who showed up for the opening, insomuch as during those thirty minutes of the evening, if they tried to get into my piece, they were asked if they worked for a garbage collection or recycling company and were turned away when they responded in the negative.

Traditional English Afternoon Tea (with specially imported Fortnum & Mason Earl Grey) was however a sell out.

Traditional English Afternoon Tea
Saturday 13 December 3pm
Come and enjoy a traditional English Afternoon Tea, with cucumber sandwiches and scones in the unusual surroundings of the Rubbish Library / Library Rubbish.
¥1,000 per party of two

The table layout was all made out of recyclable stuff. Even the cushions were bin bags with packing material stuffed in them.

03 afternoon tea table

I donned my bowtie a second time to serve a kind of watered down version of what I once had on an awful afternoon in the Ritz.

04 Afternoon Tea

Despite several years of silver service training and practice, I could not negotiate my way behind the guests in the narrow Rubbish Library / Library Rubbish and was excusing myself over and over again as I stepped on people’s toes with hot tea in hand. It was more Fawlty Towers than Piccadilly. It was terribly bizarre. It certainly had the effect of enticing into ARCUS some of the Moriya ladies of leisure, which was my intention.

I was determined that the service for the Rubbish Library / Library Rubbish Hotel should be truly silver.

Rubbish Library / Library Rubbish Hotel
Saturday 6-Saturday 13 December (check in at 7 pm / depart following morning by 10 am)
Book a night of luxury in the Rubbish Library / Library Rubbish. Whether you want to celebrate a special occasion or simply treat a loved one, let the Rubbish Library / Library Rubbish Hotel be your host. The package for two people includes:
– candle lit dinner for two
– personal tour of the library by artist
– curator’s talk from the Director of ARCUS
– private musical entertainment
– continental breakfast
So why not wake up in unusual surroundings by spending a night with us.
¥15,000 per couple, per night

I cannot tell you how much organisation it takes to run a hotel. Even if there are just two guests and it is only for one night! (Although this was advertised as running for the duration of the installation, we were only ever going to do it once. It was too expensive and way too much effort to repeat it.)

I was determined that we shouldn’t have and art world couple and despite the gallery goers being by far the most numerous would-be guests, we offered the night to Mr and Mrs Shimoda from Yokohama. We don’t know very much about them but it was rumoured that he is a decorator and that they are interested in art.

Machiko went to pick them up from the station. (“I am the Manager of ARCUS but tonight I am your chauffer.”) They arrived at ARCUS and were met by Mizuki, who took their bags. (“I am the Director of ARCUS but tonight I am your bellboy.”) I greeted them in the Rubbish Library / Library Rubbish Hotel with canapés and champagne. (“I am one of the Artists at ARCUS but tonight I am your waiter.”) They really looked completely unsure of what on earth was going on and what world they had stepped into.

05 Curator Talk

After a brief artist’s talk from me, Mizuki gave them a tour of the building and the other two artists’ shows. Daniel and Paulien were plied with beer and asked to stay to answer any questions. (Daniel Salmon has issued a currency as part of his residency here – the Mono – new ‘Esperanto money’. Paulien Oltheten has been making photographs and video of half found half contrived everyday ‘happenings’ around Japan. Their work is intriguing, funny, thoughtful and beautiful.)

And then it was dinner time.

Junko Ito (who ardent followers of this blog may remember escorted me to the doctor and informed me that I had pneumonia) is a fantastic cook (as well as being a painter and costume designer) and after some collaborative discussions, she created a nine course chromatic extravaganza, from white to black, for our guests.

06 Junko

The costs of the ingredients alone were more than Mr and Mrs Shimoda paid for their night of luxury. For the foodies among you, here is the menu.

WHITE
Marinated Seabream
Marinated Nagaimo Potato with Apple
Sashimi of Yuba

BEIGE
Boiled Tofu with Yuzu
Burdock Root and Potato with Sesame Dressing
Chicken Leg with Miso Sauce

PINK
Japanese Soup (Fu, Rolled Yuba, Myoga Ginger)
Raw Spring Rolls of Smoked Salmon
Salad of Grapefruit and Seafood

YELLOW
Sabzi of Cauliflower
Boiled Chrysanthemum Flower
Flan of Sea Urchin

RED
Spicy Tomato Soup
Pickled Red Pepper and Carrot
Tandoori Masala

GREEN
Green Salad
Sauteed Codfish with Butter and Parsley
Boiled Green Beans

PURPLE
Marinated Sweet Potato and Octopus with Basil
Pickled Cabbage and Eggplant with Sour Cream
Grated Daikon Raddish seasoned with Yukari Mint

BROWN
Roast Beef with Wasabi
Sweet Chestnut

BLACK
Christmas Squid Ink Pasta
Compote of Prune with Black Olive
Chocolate Mousse
Coffee

And here is a picture that doesn’t do the plates any justice at all.

07 dinner plates

It was pretty spectacular and the leftovers that us workers got to taste after the guests had dined, were truly delicious. I was trying to give the food the best possible platform and employed the most formal ‘Opera House’ dining service that I could remember.

08 Kitchen

I took the plates on the cardboard tray up to the 09 silver service

At the end of dinner, it was the cabaret. I sang three songs, with the costume change merely requiring I remove my apron. Funny Valentine, How Do You Keep the Music Playing?, and Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer. The final of these, was learnt and sung in Japanese. Oh yes, makka o no ha na no!

10 Cabaret

I’m going to so enjoy annoying people with this for many Christmasses to come…

Makka na o ha na no
Tonaka-i sañ wa
I tsumo miñna no
Wa-ra-i mono
Demo sono toshino
Kurisuma su no hi
Santa no oji san wa
I-i ma-shita
Kura-i yo michiwa
Pika pika no
Oma-e no ha na ga
Ya-ku ni ta tsu no sa
I tsu mo na-i-te-ta
Tona ka-i sañ wa
Koyo-i ko so wa to
Yoroko bi mashita

After that it was a quick set change and time for the Shimodas to hit the sack.

11 beds

The following day, with my eyes red as Rudolf’s nose, I cycled the fifteen minutes to ARCUS to make them breakfast in the ‘salon’.

12 breakfast

They went home very happy and left us happy too. And now we all have some time to think about what it all really means! The idea with all these events, was to activate the space in a way not normally associated with either libraries or rubbish dumps and to push some of the conceptual frame of the installation a bit. It will take time to make full sense but it was a really great thing to have tried.

The final event was the Book Wreck.

Book Wreck
Sunday 14 December 5pm-7pm
Have you been annoyed by something that you have read? Do you despair at how some things get published? Are some words not even worth the paper they are printed on? Why not come and take out your frustration on one of the Rubbish Library / Library Rubbish books? On the last day of the ARCUS Open Studios you will be invited to rip, tear, punch, kick, smash, whack and batter the books. (They will then be officially sent to the paper-recycling centre, where they will be shredded and pulped and hopefully become something better instead.)
The Book Wreck will be on a first come first served basis. No booking required.

The intention here was probably quite clear: the book is supposedly sacred; libraries are about preserving them; in a world of decreasing natural resources what is the status of the paper publication, etc., etc. Actually I had wanted to give the books away, with the idea that they would have another life but I was strictly told that they would have to be returned to the paper recycling plant. They had been thrown out by the citizens of Moriya in the expectation that they would be destroyed and destroyed they must be. So I thought we could start by giving a little helping hand.

Unsurprisingly, this was popular with kids too.

Book Wreck 2

…and families.

Book Wreck 3

Here is Mizuki, the Director of ARCUS destroying a book.

Book Wreck 5

This guy decided to disrobe for the occasion.

Book Wreck 1

And there was quite a lot of throwing torn books up into the air.

Book Wreck 4

Book Wreck 6

There was a big audience in a small space to start with but then by the end, there was just me and this lone guy, who tossed Dante’s Divine Comedy (in Japanese) into the ether.

Book Wreck 7

And so that is it. My rubbish is now ended. It has been an extraordinary rollercoaster of a journey here in Japan, from sashimi to sick bed. It will be one that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Thank you for reading.

Sayonara!

[Photographs of Rubbish Library / Library Rubbish Hotel by Hironao Kuratani; photographs of the Book Wreck by Goh Ideta.]

One Response to Rubbish Events

Incredible. What effort! What great ideas for the events! It was truly a pleasure reading about your project in Japan and I wish I could have seen it in person. Do you think they would be interested in a representational painter?
Again, congrats on your wonderful work.

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