The Ogi School PSS40 – The Group 1965 is a weird exhibit that takes over a house at the port of Ogijima. The original Ogi School PSS40 was located in the old school but that school has been torn down and rebuilt to be used as an actual school. The new Ogi School PSS40 was relocated to the port as a result and unfortunately the results were not as good.
The name comes from the fact that it is a school on Ogijima. PSS40 I believe stands for Primary School Showa 40, although I am only speculating. I’m almost certain that S40 means Showa 40 as Showa 40 is 1965, which is the same as the Group 1965. If you remember my previous post on the 2013 artwork on Ogijima, the Group 1965 is a group of artists born in 1965, but there really isn’t much else to that.
When you enter Ogi School PSS40, you are in the entrance. You basically check in and head upstairs. This is where all of the art is located. Unfortunately some of the artwork was unavailable when I visited because they were having an event at the time. There are videos that can be watched but they were turned off when I was there. The artwork was nowhere near as good as it was 3 years ago but it is difficult to replicate the success of the Ogi School.
The biggest project of Ogi School is the work by Makoto Aida. He is an interesting character and during the summer edition of the Triennale, he was working on his main work. When I entered his room, it was far from finished. It was just a plain white room with plastic all over and bento boxes. Each bento box had a bunch of turd like objects in them. These objects were all cream in colour and since he was still working on the project, nothing was finished. I would later find out that he was getting ready to paint each of them.
During my visit, they were having a very interesting event. They were having an obachan chat; basically talking with the old ladies of Ogijima. Obviously it was all in Japanese and I had a tough time following everything but I was surprised by how much I could understand. They talked about the wild boars that have infested the island and how they swam over. They talked about how the island was completely disconnected in the past and how it is still relatively isolated. They didn’t even have phones in the past. They even talked a little about their lives in the olden times.
The obachan chat was moderated by Mrs. Aida, Makoto Aida’s wife. She did her best with a small group of people. The people who attended the chat were all very interested in what they were talking about. One girl in particular was very enthusiastic, but most of the people were pretty quiet and didn’t ask many, if any, questions. I was in that group but mostly because I was not confident in how to ask my question.
Makoto Aida himself attended the chat and he is an interesting character. He tends to do things as he wishes and not really care about others around him. He is very aware of this and avoids making a big disruption. He just does his own thing, like many interesting artists. He loves to smoke and he went out of the room at least 3 times in the 1.5 hour chat. I’m sure he has heard many of the stories before as they joked that he was at all of the previous events. At the time, I didn’t know who he was but when I had time to look him up, I was surprised that I was able to be in the same room as him.
The Ogi School PSS40 may not be what you expect but it was still an interesting place. I heard that there were other seminars and workshops at the school but I cannot confirm the details. Whether or not they will continue to do things beyond the 2016 Setouchi Triennale is beyond me. Hopefully they will continue with new things for 2019.
Note: Ogi School PSS40 – The Group 1965 is no longer available on Ogijima.
- Ogi School PSS40-The Group 1965 (Official Setouchi Triennale Site)
- The Group 1965 (Official Site – English)
- The Group 1965 (Official Site – Japanese)
- Makoto Aida (Mizuma Art Gallery Profile)
The Ogi School PSS40 is a project that may be hard to understand for visitors who come only once on the island. In a sense, it’s as much aimed at islanders as it is at visitors.
First, yes, PSS40 stands for Public School Showa 40, as the original name (in Japanese) of the Group 1965 is Showa 40 Nenkai.
And I understand that the installations on the second floor where a bit underwhelming for people who just came once, especially compared to what was shown in 2013.
The thing is that the main point of the project in 2016 was really all the workshops, conferences, discussions and meetings that were happening all throughout the Triennale.
Basically, when the project started in 2013, the idea was to reopen the school with the Group 1965 as the school’s staff and faculty.
(side note: I learned recently that they did play a part in the reopening of the actual school – without their workshops in 2013, the Fukui family would have probably not decided to move back to Ogijima and they were instrumental in the reopening of the school, and they continue to be instrumental in the revitalisation of the island).
Also, members of the Group 1965 regularly came back to Ogijima between 2013 and 2016 to organize various workshops and projects on the island, most of them involving the islanders more than anyone else.
So, the project in 2016 was a continuation of all that.
And yes, I’m always wondering how much it appealed to outsiders, and the answer is probably not so much (unless you took part in a workshop or something). I also think that they don’t care and that really aimed the project at islanders.
In a sense, I really see PSS40 not as an art project, but as a mini-short term art college. One of those unique and unlikely spaces that exist here and there during the Triennale and only there and then.
Actually, as time goes by, those spaces kinda become my favorite parts of the Triennale, as in a sense, they’re the most meaningful in the grand scheme of things.
As a local you are really lucky to be able to go back over and over again. I remember reading about your experiences but I did have to write it from an “outsider’s” experience. Just for better context. Plus, I haven’t really updated this post since I originally wrote it almost 2 years ago!
I understand the complexities of the project and thanks for sharing them for everyone else too. If all goes to plan, I’ll be there in spring and hopefully I can learn more about the 2019 version, assuming it will happen again. My thoughts are yes.