Artist Masako Matsushita spent time inside and outside the confinements of the given museums, investigating new ways of inhabiting the spaces and interacting with the artworks. In collaboration with local dancers and artists (Beatrice Bresolin, Sara Lando, Anna Grigiante, Ilaria Marcolin, Elena Sgarbossa, Vittoria Caneva, Matteo Maffesanti) and supporting artist Ingvild Isaksen, she developed different practices to explore the museums in new inclusive and active ways throughout the project.
The key words of her research can be summarized in three main ones:
Exploration. Masako Matsushita first placed herself in the vest of the observer: she looked for symbols, materials, stories, discoveries, and belongings. Her focus was on taking time to observe and wonder/wander in the museum, and then transform all the inputs in to tasks and activities that could spark creativity in the visitor, rather than have them being passive observers, and that could also start a collaboration between the artist and the museum staff.
Through creative practices, she also proposed new ways of exploring and crossing the museum’s rooms, led by pure movement or a specific sense, paying attention to how different bodies inhabit different spaces.
How can a choreographic approach become relevant in the territory of the museum and coexist with the museums workers? How important is it to announce that there is a dance artist at work?
Participation. What is private and what is public in a museum? And how is the visitor aware of their ways of seeing? How do we pay attention to other bodies in a museum? And what is an archive? What is memory? What do we allow ourselves to do/be when in a museum? Through a score called Geographical Museum of Human Identities, Matsushita invited the visitors to actively inhabit the space and blur the line between public and private, creating a shared moment of individual territories available to be seen, experienced and taken care by the participating group.
What is the definition of caring in a museum context? How many definitions are there around the word care?
Encounters. How do we meet the artworks? During the different residencies, Masako started inhabiting the space through different techniques: mapping, measuring, looking for cardinal points, playing between visibility and invisibility of a dancing body. She found that the orientating approach could be the initial point for creating a descriptive/distractive/perceptive/activating audio guide for the visitor adoptable by diverse museums and started investigating new forms of encounters with artworks and bodies in a museum.
How can a space become active through the involvement of a perceptive body? How can senses be activated through it?
During the project, Masako explored the themes of emotions and archives in two different side activities: Museum of Human Emotions (September – December 2019) and Diary of a Move (April – October 2020).
Museum of Human Emotions is a project involving artists from different countries, asking them to create durational dances inspired by human emotions and by an object representing their country: in 2019, it developed from a 15 days long residency and involved the artists Masako Matsushita (Italy), Teita Iwabuki (Japan), Sorour Darabi (France) and Ming-Hwa YEH (Taiwan), and has been presented in Bassano del Grappa (Italy), Vitry sur Seine (Paris, France), Tokyo (Japan) and Kaoshiung (Taiwan).
Diary of a Move is a creative process that has built a community from afar by accompanying people of different cultural backgrounds and different generations in creatively archiving gestures and movements from personal perspectives, to share them with others and to build an archive of movements together. The project brings together citizens who have experienced the social isolation of Covid-19 by inviting them to keep a diary of movements for a period of 14 to 30 days. It brings about individual creative processes, connects people who have never met before living in different contexts, builds a sense of belonging to a group, develops a sense of shared responsibility, develops a sense of value in working and sharing together, and develops collective awareness in building a common cultural asset.
The digital process led to a performance presented in the programme of Operaestate 2020 (August, Bassano del Grappa), a book and an exhibition at the Civic Museum in Bassano del Grappa (October 2020).
Masako Matsushita’s residency dates at the City Museum in Bassano and Arte Sella:
2019: 7-9 February, 19-25 August, 1-8 September (Museum of Human Emotions), 21-26 October.
2020: 17-22 February, 20-22 July, 2-7 November.
2020: digital process Diary of a Move, April – October 2020 (in the physical space of the Civic Museum in Bassano del Grappa in August and October).
2021: 16-20 March, 7-10 April (digital), 22-23 September, 5-6 October.