The inclusive program through individual expression has become progressively important in Japan toward the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympics. Since the exhibition Forest of Expression in 2016, Arts Maebashi has been conducting five long-term collaborative projects with various facilities in the fields of welfare, medical care, and education: special nursing home for the elderly, support facility for single mothers, shelter for refugees with mental illness, third space for youth of hikikomori, and a public housing apartment. The people we met through the projects mostly seemed to have difficulties in becoming involved in social activities due to their individual problems such as illnesses, disabilities, family affairs, and social conditions. Concerning involvement with society, efforts to express are especially important in order to communicate with others. The project with artists aims to rebuild the wholeness of life that tends to be divided into pieces within our contemporary society. Through these concrete museum practices directly associated with human lives, I would like to consider the role of educational programs in museums today. Museums should show expressions directly associated with our society. It is time to inquire how these expressions can stimulate the mechanism of social change.
Tomo Imai is curator at Arts Maebashi. Her latest curated exhibition is Ecology of Expression: Remaking Our Relations with the World (2019). She won the 33rd Society for the Study of Japonisme Award for Un goût d’Extrême-Orient: La Collection Charles Cartier-Bresson at Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nancy (2011, France).