Online Talk 'useful art (Arte Util) and contemplative experiences' 

Arts Initiative Tokyo (AIT) will hold a talk event on 10 March 2023 as a place to consider the usefulness of art and mental health.

AIT has launched the dear Me project with diverse children and youth to learn from each other through artistic expression and thinking, and has created workshops on expression and a place to think about art and life together with artists and supporters. This year, we have developed these programmes and launched the CAT (Collective Amazements Troupe) project, a project to create spaces for expression through appreciation and creation, in collaboration with museums and organizations in the Netherlands and Japan that offer learning for a diverse range of people.

The talk will introduce the CAT initiative and reflect on the discoveries and interesting aspects of this project, touching on the activities of national and international guests who share a common interest. 

The discussion in the second half of the talk will touch on the significance of collaborating with diverse people across disciplines and positions, experiencing together and the relationship between spirit and art, using keywords such as ‘Surrender’, ‘Adaptation’ and ‘Art Boundaries’.

From the themes common to all three, we will consider how the modest humour and sometimes critical eye of art has the potential to intervene and bring about change in difficult times and society.


Online Talk: ‘useful art (Arte Util) and contemplative experiences’ 
-Art experiences with a diverse range of people, starting from curiosity

Date: Friday 10 March 2023
Time: 19:00-21:30 JPT (Zoom open at 18:50)     *NL Time 11am-1:30pm 

Online (Zoom)

Admission; Free (reservation required)
Language: Japanese, English *Japanese-English interpretation available

[ Introduction & CAT activity report]
Hans Looijen (Museum of Mind) , Tetsu Akaogi (atelier A), Rika Fujii (AIT)

[ Discussion ] Tetsu Akaogi, Hans Looijen, Roger McDonald, Naoko Horiuchi (AIT)

Organized by: Agency for Cultural Affairs, Arts Initiative Tokyo NPO.
In collaboration with: atelier A, Museum of the Mind

Cooperation: Shiseido Camellia Fund, SBI Shinsei Bank Group, Roland Corporation, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

*This event has textual information support using ‘UD Talk’ (Language: Japanese).

Speakers and Collaborators

Drawing by Ryunosuke (atelierA)

Tetsu Akaogi (Director, atelier A)

Since 2002, Tetsu Akaogi has been coaching ABLE FC, a football team for children with Down syndrome, and since 2003 he has started ‘atelier A’, a painting class mainly for children with Down syndrome and autism.
In 2006 he edited and published the magazine ‘←→special’ featuring Art Brut. He is also the editor of ATELIER INCURVE art book.

Research curator for the Museum of Together exhibition (2017, organised by the Nippon Foundation DIVERSITY IN THE ARTS); participated in talk sessions for Museum of Together Circus (2018) and TURN Fest 5 (2019, organised by Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Arts Council Tokyo and others).

Hans Looijen(Director, Museum of the Mind)

Hans Looijen is the CEO of Foundation Dolhuys (since 2008) and is responsible for the Museum of the Mind. He also is Chair to the Willem van Genk Foundation, Chair of Anton Heijboer Foundation, advisor to the OutsiderArtGallery (Amsterdam) and Fantastikee Art Ateliers (Maastricht). Museum of the Mind has two major venues. One in Amsterdam, dedicated to Outsider Art (since 2016) and the completely refurbished Museum of the Mind, Dolhuys Haarlem (Amsterdam Metropolitan Area). 
Hans studied Museology (both in Amsterdam and Oaxaca, Mexico). He founded the second Museum of the Mind on Outsider Art at the Hermitage Amsterdam in 2016. Hans felt that works outside the established canon of the Western art world deserved more prominence in the Dutch cultural institutions, as there was no venue for this art in the Netherlands and museum were neglecting this field. This urge kickstarted into action.The museum collection now comprises about 1400 works, acquired with the support of a private fund donated to the museum by a couple who fell in love with the museums outsiderart exhibition program. The Museum of the Mind won the European Museum of the Year Award 2022.

Roger McDonald (Indipendent Curator, Program Director of AIT TOTAL ARTS STUDIES)

Born in Tokyo, Japan. Educated in England from childhood. Studied at Canterbury Kent University, where he majored in Mysticism, also completing his PhD there with Professor Roger Cardinal (‘Outsider Art, 1972). After returning to Japan in 1998, he worked as an independent curator and taught as a part-time lecturer at art universities in Japan and abroad from 2000 to 2013. In 2010, he moved to Saku, Nagano. He opened Fenberger House in 2014 and serves as its Director.

He founded MOACA  in 2019, a citizens climate change initiative that raises awareness through talks and school visits in the Saku area. He organizes lectures and discussion events on the climate crisis and adaptation. Curator of the “Museum of Together” exhibition (2017, organized by the Nippon Foundation DIVERSITY IN THE ARTS); program director of TOTAL ARTS STUDIES (TAS) at AIT; author of the book “DEEP LOOKING A Guide to Deep Observation to Revive the Imagination” published by AIT Press in 2022.

Naoko Horiuchi(AIT Curator, dear Me director)

Works as a curator and lecturer at Arts Initiative Tokyo (AIT). After completing an MSc in Contemporary Art and Art Theory at Edinburgh College of Art in 2005, she worked as an independent curator in Edinburgh, curating Aiko Miyanaga’s solo exhibition  (2007, Sleeper Gallery, Edinburgh), and was an assistant curator of Metronome Think Tank Tokyo in collaboration with Documenta 12 magazines (2006). At AIT, she has curated and coordinated several art education programs and corporate art projects, and residency programme-related exhibitions in Japan, Thailand, Scotland, and New Zealand. She was a guest curator of Kyoto Re-Search in Maizuru (2017), PARADISE AIR (2015/2016), and ARCUS Project (2013). Since 2016, she has been organizing AIT’s new program called ‘dear Me,’ an alternative art learning platform directed towards children in various living situations.

Rika Fujii (AIT Project manager, dear Me management and coordination)

Born in Chiba. After working for a publishing IT company, she has been in her current position since 2011, mainly coordinating and planning exhibitions, events and workshops at AIT. For the Go-Betweens: The World Seen Through Children/Children’s Caption Project (2014, organized by Mori Art Museum), the planning of which was supported by AIT, she was involved in the school program and workshop for children.
She was in charge of Gina Buenfeld’s ‘At the Still Point of a Turning World’ (2014), a joint project between AIT and Camden Arts Centre, and ‘The BAR vol. 8 Today of Yesterday’ exhibition (2015, Yamamoto Gendai). Member of AIT’s dear Me project. Organises programmes that proactively engage diverse children. Her personal activities include cultural activities with children, atelier with children with disabilities, participation in beekeeping groups, and co-ordination of art activities at welfare institutions.

Collective Amazements Troupe [CAT]

Collective Amazements Troupe [CAT] is a new project launched in 2022, as a collaboration between Museum of the Mind, atelier A and dear Me (by AIT). ‘Collective Amusements’ mean surprises (in an extremely positive sense) experienced collectively, and ‘Troupe’ means a group of independent expressionists. The aim of the project is to enable diverse people to meet through their curiosity for each other, and together, create a space in which each can express themselves.

atelier A

Painting classes mainly for children with Down’s syndrome and autism. Started by Tetsu and Yoko Akaogi, it has been held once a month in Shibuya, Tokyo, since 2003. Staff members involved in design and art work together to create an environment where children can have fun and create together. The aim is to provide a place where children and staff can inspire each other, develop friendships and make new discoveries in their own way, in an open environment where they can experience encounters with many people, regardless of age or disability.

Museum of the Mind
The Museum of the Mind in the Netherlands is straddling the boundaries between healthcare, art and science. The museum is recognised for the recent redevelopment  which represents a breakthrough in humanising not just medical museums, but museums in general. The institution also offers a social model of museums. The message of the Museum of the Mind is that museums can go beyond mental health programmes for small groups and contribute much more. They can help create a healthier society, through embodying a humane, caring and respectful attitude to humanity in every aspect of their work. The Museum of the Mind stands out as a centre of excellence in this field, in terms of its governance scheme, with links to national mental health foundations and agencies, its content and conceptual exhibition making, its contemporary relevance both for its personnel and its diverse audiences. The Museum of the Mind is a uniquely humane, interactive, empowering, activist museum based on a ground-breaking project that develops the museum concept as school of life with a very open mind, and does so within a building that carries a heavy past with multiple layers of memory of illness but also of great resilience.” (jury EMYA).

dear Me (by AIT)

dear Me is a project initiated by AIT in 2016 to connect children and young people from different backgrounds with the idea of art and the expression of artists to imagine a better future.
It organises and implements workshops and events to share a free world and diverse values. The programme includes an ‘Art Appreciation Programme’ in which children and young people encounter live expression, ‘Creative Workshops’ with national and international artists and experts, lectures that cross art and care, and a programme in which the voices of those involved are transmitted through expression. The programme also creates opportunities to experience the expansion of the world and the connection with society.

About Arts Initiative Tokyo [AIT]
AIT is a non-profit organization founded in 2001 by six art curators and managers with the aim of creating a platform for learning, dialogue, and thinking open to anyone interested in contemporary art.