Roppongi Art Night is just one night out of the whole year, time you’d normally spend dreaming under the covers in your own bed, but what if instead Art night found people all in one big bed telling each other their dream?

– Katsuhiko Hibino, Art Director of the 4th edition of Roppongi Art Night

roppongi art night 2013

For me, it was the 1st time attending and I didn’t know what to expect. I arrived after sunset in the beating heart of Roppongi among Japanese and foreigners, ready to enjoy the night in one of the many surrounding bars and clubs. Roppongi may be the red-light district of Tokyo, but it’s also a budding center of art and design with the National Art center and Tokyo Midtown, home to the Suntory museum, Design Hub, the Mori museum, PechaKucha refuge, and more. These sites have proved to be valuable spaces for fostering a design-centric community, inspiring artists, designers and thinkers.

Despite all it had going for it, I still wasn’t sure about what I would discover. But I pushed forward as my curiosity about sneaking into a museum at night overcame my fear of disappointment. I stepped in.

Design Ah! special installation“Ah” by Kotaro Sekiguchi made with newspaper and duct tape. An installation in conjunction with the “Design Ah! Exhibition”. Unless otherwise noted, all photos by Justine

Roppongi Art Night Design ahphoto by flickr user robochick

I was far from disappointed! Invested, transformed, vibrating; I hardly recognized the place and its smooth flow of people mixing with artists, musicians and performers. I quickly gave up following the map and agenda offered to me at the information station. There was too much to see, too much to listen, too much to read. Katsuhiko Hibino – artist and director of Roppongi Art Night – succeeded in constructing an uninterrupted network of experiences, one leading to the other. So I set myself loose in a random itinerary and I never felt lost.

hundred of boots“Shimura Nobuhiro molded one hundred candles from old boots mostly from local residents of Mine, Yamaguchi. The installation uses ordinary materials and imagery to evoke an atmosphere of sedimented time layered with memories of other non-urban lives.”

Recently, art has been splitting in two directions: one way presumes “white cube” museums will show the same exhibitions under the same conditions worldwide, art that remains unaffected by time and place; the other way is site-specific art, where places exert a positive pull on the works and each different encounter becomes important, the exact opposite to what museum try to do. –  Katsuhiko Hibino

Roppongi Art Night was just the right illustration of this second kind of art. A kind of art where the spectator is completely integrated. The body is involved and the soul is transformed. Look! Listen! Take! Think! Cry! Dance! Laugh! Here were all the injunctions reaching my head, heart and body.

the white building washingEarly in 2012, Iwai Masaru stayed in the derelict “The White building” in Phnom Penh, Cambodia while shooting a documentary about cleaning the building together with local residents. Projected in three large screens, the white building washing astounds the viewer with its stark realism and ineffable videographic beauty.

The night gathered a breathtaking array of art and performances. Exhibitions, theater, live painting, concerts, knitting in the park… The night resonated with sounds of “great -sugoi!,” “wonderful – subarashii!” and “cute – kawaii!” coming from an excited crowd delighted by the surprises found in their way.

Roppongi Art Night Hibiki Lounge 1A mandala of “Hibiki” whisky bottles at the Hibiki Art Lounge | photo by flickr user Ryosuke Takeoka

Roppongi Art Night Hibiki Lounge 2 Roppongi Art Night Hibiki Lounge 3

Souffleurs - whispering poetic resistanceBased on the principle that people convey messages from mouth to ear, Les Souffleurs commandis poétiques was formed by the French actor Olivier Comte in 2001 with his “Declaration of Whispering”. This is an art performance of whispering poetry and philosophy  using a long tube called a nightingale. It is an artistic activity to share discovery or inspiration hidden in our daily life with others. Japan-France joint “Souffleurs” is performed in collaboration with Tokyo Theater Company KAZE.

This installation of a watch or compass arrow pointed to the sky, under which entertaining concerts took place, was a great embodiment of the theme of this night: TRIP. “Witness today’s transformation into tomorrow.” I don’t know about transformation but what I do know is this night filled us all with energy to face tomorrow.

the tripping arrowWithin the space created by Mishima Akiyoshi, the huge arrow will transform  – like a balloon about to make a journey, the hand of a tie piece to mark the passage of time, or a needle of a compass indicating the direction of the trip.

Arigato Katsuhiko-san.