One of the longest established artist residencies in Japan, Arcus Project “Residency for Artists, Experiments for Locals” aims to support promising artists from across the globe, and also, to promote the Ibaraki area through art. Participating curators for the 2013 porgramme were International Guest Curator, Keith Whittle and Guest Curator, Naoko Horiuchi, AIT Tokyo.

The selected residency artists were, German-born Sybille Neumeyer who presents the familiar – spaces and contexts but shifts our perceptions of such through an investigation of a proposition, or situation and discourse in any given work – as much as part of the creative act as interaction with the work. Her work makes visible what is often hidden and engages us with forces that though often seemingly intangible or insurmountable are too important for us to ignore.  Neumeyer’s residency proposal tackles some of the key questions about culture and nature and is fertile ground for process and research. Her ARCUS project focused on relations between human and nature. During her stay in Japan, Nuemeyer investigated layers of history, present and future: how do our connections to food, land, environment shift? Observing the local situation and rethinking global structures, I am trying to enable a dialogue between personal experience knowledge and the understanding of our environment beyond a natural bodily perception. Slipping in the role of a silent observer, Nuemeyers interest is articulated in simple and small materials.

Nandesha Shanthi Prakash, who was born and living in India, who’s exemplary eclectic approach without a signature style or material – but reiterative projects where communication and communion with the local can be seen as a central motivation – process, time and space, environment, dissemination of ideas to wide audiences. Where local environments, people, participation and community are principle assets within the work, his project research encompasses research to understand the site both socially and physically. Prakash’ immediately struck me as an artist whose themes and approach to his practice would be ideally suited to the ARCUS Project Residency Program. In the context of Japan, a country currently undergoing a period of considerable reflection on the shortcomings of modernity, and in the context of wider the Asia-Pacific region, where urbanisation and urban expansion are taking place at unprecedented speed. Prakash’s residency project and his interest in society and our relations in the city, will, I believe, initiate and broker new conversations, shift preconceptions, highlighting the merits of the local, diversity, difference and distinctiveness – making spaces for conversation between differing groups.

For his ARCUS residency, Prakash explored the personification of myth from every day, in the contemporary context. His works an investigation of the Known-within the great metaphor of alchemy there are no answers and no definite end, but the journey and process of experience of our existence. This attempt is a tiny gesture in the universe, an aesthetic involvement in the process of understanding my reality as an individual, a citizen of a country and part of the larger global imagination called “ Our Universe”.

Rodrigo Gonzalez, who is a visual artist from Mexicoparticularly interested in woodblock printing in Japan (moku hanga), how in a contemporary context it could offer a means through which an interchange of knowledge and ideas might take place.  As in his previous work which explores the system of signs, his ARCUS residency proposal can be interpreted and understood both in terms of semiotics or communication theory, or just as valid, in terms of the instantaneous and emotional bond he aims to achieve. As an exploration, it can also be understood as one that will lead him to an understanding of the meaning behind culturally-distinct images and symbols within Japan. Castillo’s, Now&Then ARCUS project focused on a comparison between the visual language of the elder and the children of Moriya through drawing and printmaking. The main objective for working with these topics has to do with his interest in showing a direct and intimate panorama of everyday life in Moriya, Japan. Using drawing and printmaking as primary tools, I want to transmit a feeling of community and identity, shared between the children and the elder people as members of the same city; and to activate a visual interaction in which the participants of the project could find new meanings and relations.