The activities of IMM Neighbors in the fiscal year 2022

Text=Naoko Ito
(Immigration Museum Tokyo staff / IMM Neighbors)

What is IMM Neighbors?

IMM Neighbors is a volunteer group of citizen researchers, including working adults and university students living in and outside of Adachi City, who are interested in the activities of Immigration Museum Tokyo (“IMM Tokyo”) relating to art and multiculturalism.

IMM Neighbors has been conducting field research for some time, but as the Art Education Program (“EDP”) was held in elementary schools in Adachi City in the fiscal 2022, research was conducted in the areas of schools that planned to hold the EDP.

Conducting field research for EDP

As part of field research, IMM Neighbors set several themes aimed at increasing their awareness of multiculturalism and children’s perspectives in the town, then made observations in town while taking pictures while following those themes.

Many first-time participants attended the research activities in the Takenotsuka area in July, in addition to working adults involved in theatre activities and university students learning about art projects. While showing each other photos during a post-research discussion, participants commented: “It was really interesting to see how my perspective was completely different than others by looking at the photos.” “It was interesting how the community didn’t feel as multinational as I thought once I actually walked around.” During research in the Odai and Miyagi areas in August, many members felt the town was very “colorful” after seeing its signboards and buildings. One member, who lives in Adachi City, said they felt the Odai and Miyagi areas had a more “retro” atmosphere than the place where they live.

The EDP: From preparation to implementation

After walking and conducting research around the area where the school children live, we held an interactive artwork appreciation course for ourselves, since it was part of our EDP for the children. This course became a chance for members to realize differences in each other’s viewpoints, and it was interesting how different words came up even though everyone was looking at the same art! The course was well received by members who were new to interactive artwork appreciation, who said, “It was interesting because of how free we were to interpret the art.”

On the day we implemented the EDP, members of IMM Neighbors enjoyed participating in co-creating artwork with children and artists while being surprised by the richness of the children’s ideas. During a reflection workshop, after seeing how each child thought carefully about the work they made, some members pointed out how freely children could create. Together with IMM Neighbors, we were deeply moved by the chance to create opportunities for children to interact with many adults they would not normally meet.

The multinational art exhibition “Cultural BYO…Ne!” and IMM Neighbors

During the Multinational Art Exhibition “Cultural BYO…Ne!” that was held as another program of IMM Tokyo, IMM Neighbors visited the venue, listened to artist talks, and thoroughly took in the artwork. As part of an interactive artwork appreciation get-together held amongst the members, each member shared their views and favorite aspects of their chosen artwork.

Reflecting on this fiscal year

As the number of new members increased this year, we aimed to facilitate enjoyable interactions by visiting places like the festival at Tokyo University of the Arts, galleries, and other activities alongside our monthly activities. The members of IMM Neighbors come from a wide variety of backgrounds, but they are all connected by a common interest: they love art. Participating in the activities of IMM Neighbors is interesting because it facilitates encounters uncommon in everyday life, such as at elementary schools, art exhibition venues, and regular meetings. What makes IMM Neighbors interesting is also what makes planning activities challenging, but we will continue our work while looking forward to seeing what new things emerge from such new encounters.

IMM Neighbors Activity Schedule (Fiscal 2022)

May                     Kick-off meeting
July                     Takenotsuka area research
August                 Odai and Miyagi area research
September           Regular meeting
October               Interactive artwork appreciate course & regular meeting
November           EDP implementation & regular meeting
December           EDP implementation & Multinational Art Exhibition appreciation
January                EDP implementation
February              Reflection meeting & exchange event

Translation=Lana Tran