IN_BETWEEN: Remnant Spaces with Potential.

Realized within just 10 days, I invited 26 citizens to tell me about their personal visions for the vacant urban spaces that are everywhere in Kyoto. Consequently IN_BETWEEN transformed a remnant space into a temporary gallery and ordinary people into artists who kneaded unfulfilled desires into play dough sculptures.

photosEmpty Lots (pics)
videos26 Visions (in 3D)
pdf fileCatalog pdf file

Remnant space (between houses and people) doesn't mean it is empty. It's fertile space. it's just waiting for us to make use of it. Each empty space is an unfulfilled desire, and each of those people that I approached showed their desire to create something. Each time we turn one empty space into a small temporary unthreatening space, it becomes visible to people. Given the right approach (simple, clear and fun), people will tell us very honestly what is needed or missing in their lives. And even though it is a small encounter, just to voice such a thing has the potential to be life-changing.

Video Documentary (1:36min, 10.4MB)
First exhibition of CURATORS WITHOUT GALLERY on March 22, 2009
videosClick below to watch.

Momentarium Video

On March 22, 2009, Curators Without Galleries converted a vacant lot on central location in Kyoto into a temporary gallery (90 minutes) where 26 citizens-turned-artists showed miniature sculptures of their visions. Camera work: Tiery Le...


The urban fabric of Kyoto is dotted with long-term vacant spaces or parking lots.
© Google Earth, 2004 (Higashioji-Ichijoji area)

A virtue out of necessity. Gallery space is expensive in Japan (mainly rental galleries), so I was wondering if I could utilize an unused, urban space for an exhibition and present the work and visions of non-artists. With a radically democratic approach to curating, I wanted to see if i could prototype an aesthetic model that engages architecture and people outside of established art systems. I wondered if I can convert a vacant lot on top location into a temporary gallery (with permission, not guerilla-style) and could create presentable work with strangers.


Key aspect of IN_BETWEEN was to elevate ordinary people into artistic visionaries for the use of unnoticed, empty-but-not-really-empty spaces in their own neighbourhoods.

Inviting to “Playdough Conversations”. I was interested to ignite the imagination of strangers on ideas for the use of vacant lots that would result – with simple means – into presentable work. Introducing myself as a curator I approached people in cafés, book shops and the community center. ‘Curator’ as job title is little known in Japan which provided an excellent opportunity to introduce my mission. After making sure they had ten minutes to spare, I showed them photos from vacant lots and asked them how they would use the space regardless of monetary or legal constraints. I asked my participants to help me prototype their visions in play dough. Most of my conversation partners gradually enjoyed using their hands and kneading material next to words for unleashing their dreams. The “play dough conversations” lasted between 5 and 90 minutes and were not only a more tactile way of interaction but possibly a novel, more democratic approach to urban planning. In the course of one week 25 persons sculpted their vision for utilizing remnant space. All but one agreed to have their work shown at the concluding exhibition.


Passerbyers check out the art on display opposite of Kyoto's Imperial Palace and sculpt their own visions in play dough.

The Making of an Exhibition. In an attempt to concentrate the presence of people involved, the event lasted just 90 minutes (just before rain kicked in). In order to attract passerbyers (on their Sunday stroll in the nearby Imperial Palace) a large-scale banner and table all kept in bright white helped to offset the gallery form the surrounding gray. Two of the participating artists joined the exhibit and personally shared their vision and story. Despite the uncertain weather IN_BETWEEN attracted a number of passerbys and nearby shop owners who created their own play dough visions. All participants received an exhibition catalog after the project as a token of appreciation.

Curators Without Gallery
CURATORS WITHOUT GALLERIES / CONSERVATEURS SANS GALLERIE (CSG) is an international art organization established in 2009 by curators and citizens in Japan. Today CSG provides unusual artistic ventures to people worldwide who are excluded from the art system and institutionalized culture. CSG realizes independent, aesthetic interventions that create surprising art experiences in the everyday context through subtle shifts within human presence and co-existence.

Credits: Project IN_BETWEEN was made possible with the indispensable support of Yuka Saito, Makiko Hori, Tagaki-san, Mie Matsuoka, Ichikawa-san (barber), Thiery Le Cam, Paul Blazek, Lehan W. Ramsay, and all project participants.