皆様におかれましては、新緑の候、ゴールデンウィークなどをお楽しみのついでにどうぞお足をお運び頂き、Chim↑Pomの一旦の最後と、Chim↑Pom from Smappa!Groupのはじまりをご高覧頂けますよう、何卒宜しくお願い申し上げます。
2022年 Chim↑Pom from Smappa!Group
Notice of a change of name
We will be changing our name from “Chim↑Pom” to “Chim↑Pom from Smappa!Group” effective April 27, 2022. We will remain active under this new name for the foreseeable future, and ask for your mindfulness of this change and your continued interest in our activities.
This change came about in connection with sponsorship funds, part of which we collected in response to a request from Mori Art Museum to defray the cost of installation and other items for Happy Spring, our exhibition that is now being held there. While several companies agreed to provide funding, the offer by Smappa!Group, a business in the nightlife district of Tokyo, was the only one to be rejected by the museum.
In the past, we have collaborated with Smappa!Group in putting together some of our signature projects, including LOVE IS OVER, the scrap-and-build project So see you again tomorrow, too?, and Ningen Restaurant.
We engaged in discussions with the museum in an attempt to find a solution. In these discussions, we were told that the reason for the refusal was “branding” in the context of the “community development” represented by Roppongi Hills, and that Mori Art Museum was the very face of the Hills area as a “cultural city.” This month, we again received a reply to the effect that the museum would not display the logo of a company that was in the nightlife business.
The museum said that it would host a solo exhibition by Chim↑Pom but rejected sponsorship by Smappa!Group. In our opinion, the question of whether this exhibition is showcasing or exploiting artistic diversity is a matter that requires further discussion.
We earnestly ask all groups desiring some involvement with Chim↑Pom to be aware that we are provocateurs, and to never entertain the mistaken idea that we are a wholesome bunch.
With this change of name, we are requesting Mori Art Museum to take the following two steps in this regard, beginning on May 15 (as we would genuinely like to provide ample time for enjoyment of the Golden Week holiday by the concerned Museum personnel as well).
1. To switch to “Chim↑Pom from Smappa!Group” as our official name, and to make sure to use this name in all media and press releases.
2. To reconsider the acceptance of funds from Smappa!Group and display of its logo.
Established 18 years ago in Shinjuku’s Kabukicho district, Smappa!Group is a company that owns many establishments, including host clubs, restaurants, care facilities, beauty salons, the gallery and bar Decameron, and formerly the Kabukicho Book Center, the first bookstore in the area.
Maki Tezuka, the president of Smappa!Group, is partners with Ellie, one of Chim↑Pom’s members. Under the ethos of “living as a host and as a member of society,” his company has actively participated in city clean-up initiatives, local festivals, and events. Tezuka also serves as a full-time director of the Kabuki-cho Shopping Center Promotion Union and is working to improve the public safety in the district. When the area came under scrutiny as a nightlife zone suspected of exacerbating the spread of Covid-19, Tezuka was at the front lines spearheading anti-Covid measures with Kenichi Yoshizumi, the mayor of Shinjuku.
Setting aside the legal standpoint, one might regard Mori Art Museum’s response as discrimination against nightlife workers. Through their public outreach and education initiatives, Smappa!Group is a company that has long fought against such discrimination.
In an interview with Asahi Shimbun on March 5th, 2022, Tezuka explained, “Many people in my line of work create side companies in order to cover their tracks. I do not do that because I want my company to represent itself confidently.” He dismisses both the unhealthy customs of the industry and the common stereotype that views most female customers of host clubs as being coerced into going rather than an understanding that they could patronize the clubs for their own enjoyment.
We also see this issue as a typical example of gentrification, where the creative industry conflates and excludes “indecent” elements from the city based on their occupations.
An idea that ushered in new development was the theory of the creative city. We acknowledge arguments both for and against gentrification, but with current debates that modify this concept, we believe it is only natural for museums to adapt to the changing times.
While society as a whole promotes diversity (Mori Art Museum, in particular, has made such announcements), in reality, branding is prioritized over a sense of publicness. Whenever confronted by issues pertaining to them, institutions will go to great lengths to exclude any inconvenience to their brand. We firmly believe these old ploys should not go unchallenged.
Of course, we would never involve ourselves with an industry like arms dealing, but as a general rule, we base the decision to work with others on the company or individual rather than on other aspects such as their attributes.
Mori Art Museum is no exception.
We believe art’s dynamism lies in a publicness that allows for the coexistence of Roppongi Hills and Tokyo's nightlife district, Kabukicho.
We see the same logic of exclusion behind this case involving Smappa!Group and the refusal of Mori Art Museum to permit the display of our artwork Super Rat in the museum due to a request by a gaming company that is a tenant of Roppongi Hills. Before going any further, we would like to express our gratitude to the museum staff, who gave us their wholehearted support for our efforts on behalf of sponsorship by the Smappa!Group, as well as for construction of the installation and management of the Street work.
These staff members saw our negotiations with the company for themselves, so we certainly had no intention of aggravating things. Nevertheless, we could not help feeling that the expulsion of Super Rat from the museum to the collaborative project space raised significant concerns regarding “freedom of speech.” Also, in light of the Smappa!Group case and the continued exclusion of Super Rat, we felt we had reached the limits of our behind-the-scenes negotiations.
Beginning on April 27, 2022, the art gallery ANOMALY will be holding an exhibition titled Chim↑Pom from Smappa!Group as a companion exhibition to Mori Art Museum's Happy Spring exhibition in order to make both exhibitions more meaningful. In parallel, we are going to hold another, somewhat bizarre exhibition titled Remember the Days at MUJIN-TO Production beginning on April 30, 2022.
We think what happened is a problem, but also see this unexpected curation by Mori Art Museum as a precious opportunity for creating a new project. While this is a sudden development, we are looking forward to showing the new works that derived from this situation.
As you enjoy yourselves amid the fresh buds of spring and the Golden Week holiday, we fervently hope you will also decide to visit these exhibitions to see the last of “Chim↑Pom” and join us in celebrating the birth of “Chim↑Pom from Smappa!Group”!