TANA Gallery Bookshelf

One of Tokyo’s newest and hippest gallery spaces TANA Gallery Bookshelf finished up their first year in style with an artist talk by Ryuta Ushiro of ChimPom and a one-day show of SHIBUYA=SHIBUHOUSE, a collective of young artists (the core of the group are students at the likes of Geidai and Musashino Art University), and frequently rotating “non-artists.” Because of the direct correlation between the amount of gallery space and risk aversion TANA—a gallery in a bookshelf, literally—can afford to show risky works and artists and to remain outside of Tokyo’s commercial artrace.

SIBUHOUSE exhibition installation view

Julia Friedman with TANA’S founder Tamura Masamichi

TANA displays and archives the most cutting edge works produced in the city, filling the niche between commercial galleries that choose their art, for the most part, on the promise of sales and international recognition, and the weekly-rental underworld in which many young artists are forced to operate. Its criteria for choosing exhibitions is the quality of the projects themselves, with no consideration given to financial consequences of the shows. Yet, TANA is not a fringe pro bono gallery. The tongue-in-cheek statement under the heading “Non Non-commercial” posted on the gallery’s website tags it as : “an independent gallery indifferent to commercialism,” that welcomes “commerce … without commercialism.” This model of operation where art supersedes money is refreshing but not at all utopian—TANA more than deserves to be on Tokyo’s main gallery-hopping route.

I will do a separate posting shortly on the SHIBUHOUSE activities; this was my first encounter with the group and I look forward to learning (and reporting) and their gonzo activities.

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