Voin Pahoin - a monthly eight-hour circus (Yokohama, 2007-2008)

Tazoe Kaori and Gen Kurihara at our home, May 2007. Photo courtesy of Voin Pahoin.

Please scroll down for the Japanese version / 日本語版は下方へスクロールしてください。

Voin Pahoin began in May 2007 in an old apartment called Tokunaga Building in Yokohama's Chinatown, where we — Kumi Oiwa and Mayumi Hirano — lived together. Basically, we invited an artist to our home every month to create a party with us, while occasionally traveling away from home to plan and host a gathering in collaboration with other organizations. We continued doing it regularly until November 2008, when we naturally slowed down and paused the project. Today, Voin Pahoin comes back when least expected.  

Horio Sadaharu at Voin Pahoin, 25 August 2007. Photo courtesy of Voin Pahoin.

Voin Pahoin, 29 October 2015. Photo courtesy of Voin Pahoin.

Akiko Hoshina at Voin Pahoin, 28 July 2007. Photo courtesy of Voin Pahoin.

The Beginning

Both of us moved to Yokohama from different cities in Western Japan to work for the Yokohama Triennale in 2005. As we arrived in Yokohama without having a place to live, we individually moved around different friends' houses for a month or so. With the help of Kaori Tazoe, one of the participating artists in the Triennale, we were able to rent an apartment near the main venue of the exhibition, and thus we began to live together.

The Yokohama Triennale 2005 was planned under the direction of artist Tadashi Kawamata within the extremely short time of nine months in which the exhibition had to be made from scratch, including the setting-up of the office space. Artists, curators, staff, and volunteers were literally running around while the exhibition space was temporarily created in warehouses located at the tip of Yamashita Pier. As reflected in the title of the Triennale, "Art Circus: Jumping from the Ordinary,” performances were held every day during the exhibition, with accidents occurring constantly. The exhibition continued to transform itself. People were always on the move. After the exhibition and editorial work were finished, the office was neatly folded up to end the tumultuous Yokohama Triennale 2005.

After the closure of the Triennale office, both of us had found new jobs. We continued to stay in Yokohama, having extended the contract on the apartment in Chinatown, but we were left with a sense of loss after the big storm. We missed seeing the people and artists with whom we spent a lot of time together while working and eating during the Triennale. One day, we casually started talking about an idea of using our home to reconnect and stay connected with them. Artists Tazoe and Gen Kurihara were amused by our haphazard idea and encouraged us to just do it.

The name Voin Pahoin was also a random choice. It was a phrase we came across in a Finnish book displayed at a bookstore. We had no idea what the Finnish words meant, but it sounded simply perfect for us.

In the beginning of 2007, we started renovating the apartment  with the help of Tazoe and Kurihara, and hosted the first Voin Pahoin in May of the same year, where the two exhibited their artworks and photographer Takashi Arai made the menu and cooked for the guests.

Installation of Sadaharu Horio's sketchbooks, 25 August 2007. Photo courtesy of Voin Pahoin.

Masanobu Nishino at Voin Pahoin, 24 November 2007. Photo courtesy of Voin Pahoin.


Even though the apartment was renovated to host a party of 20 to 30 people, it was still our home; so, the next day, after the one-night, eight-hour Voin Pahoin, we would pull out our belongings that we had hidden the day before and go back to our normal daily routine. We did not intend to establish our apartment as an art space nor did we use the language of art to articulate our vision. Our intention of organizing a home party with artists was simply to explore ways to stay connected to the people around us while making home open for new encounters and links. 

Each month, we invited one artist who shared the same interest with us to collaboratively make a party. Arai continued to take charge of the kitchen. The events were held for one day, once a month, and from four in the afternoon to midnight only, but we let the artists stay at our home for as long as they wished and create the space as they wished. We called them "room-jackers" rather than resident artists, with the intention of letting them jack (take over) our home.

All the artists took our invitation playfully yet seriously, which often surprised us. The most shocking moment for us was when we saw Akiko Hoshina, a ceramic artist, bring in 100 kilograms of raw clay and completely wrap a futon bed and toilet in clay. To be honest, what she did was beyond our imagination. Toward the end of the event, the artist had a minor heat stroke. While she was taking a rest, we told her, "We never imagined having the toilet seat removed and the washroom wrapped in clay. You are crazy and amazing." She laughed loudly while laying down on the clay bed. 

Sadaharu Horio, who performed every single day during the Yokohama Triennale 2005, also accepted our fervent request to be a room-jacker, and came all the way from Kobe. The presence of Horio — who was a former member of the legendary Gutai group — attracted not only art professionals but also a wide range of people who had the chance to meet him and voluntarily participated in his performances during the Triennale. Horio’s hands and body were always in motion, giving shape to his overflowing ideas and generating energy that magnetized everyone who just happened to be around him. His artistic practice has a great impact in shaping our idea of art. 

Takehiro Iikawa at Voin Pahoin, 22 September 2007. Photo courtesy of Voin Pahoin.

Installation by Takehiro Iikawa at Voin Pahoin, 22 September 2007. Photo by Takehiro Iikawa.

Tokunaga Building. Photo courtesy of Voin Pahoin.

Going away from home

Around the time when we had Sadaharu Horio at Voin Pahoin,  Mizuki Endo, the then director of ARCUS Project, invited us to do Voin Pahoin in Moriya, which is about a two-hour drive away from Yokohama. Thus, in addition to the monthly parties at our home, we began to regularly visit the town to prepare a party. This was the first time we tried to hold Voin Pahoin away from home, while keeping the spirit of welcoming people at our place. 

ARCUS Project is a residency program that was housed in an abandoned elementary school building, and our idea for the party was conceived when we encountered a rusty giant cauldron in a corner of their storage. We distributed flyers asking for more information on the history of the cauldron before a local resident named Masae Ideno, who was about 89 years old at the time, responded to our call. She shared her childhood memory around the cauldron and also introduced us to her old friends who also had stories to tell. We frequently commuted to Moriya to spend time with them to hear their memories, while removing the rust of the unused cauldron and learning how to cook rice using it.  While we spent time with the local senior citizens as well as with the cauldron, it was not just the staff of ARCUS Project — Machiko Kuroda and Takashi Nakamura — who had been supportive of our project since the very beginning, but also the ARCUS Project’s artists-in-residence and volunteers began to care about the cauldron. 

For the final result of our research, we organized a cookout in which we simply tried to use the cauldron to cook locally-harvested rice. On the day of the cookout, people ranging from five to 90 years old gathered from the neighborhood as well as distant places. It was a miraculous time. Why did we feel it was a miracle?  We found out that everyone had actually come to the event because they were worried that we would fail to cook rice using the cauldron. Cooking rice in the cauldron had become a shared goal among the people whom we met. We can still recall the voices of people and the texture and taste of the rice that we finally got to share. 

 In hindsight, the reason why we kept visiting Moriya — which is not near Yokohama — was not just the fresh and tasty food the place provided us but, most importantly, the precious encounters with the people and the generous hospitality we received from them.  We can still vividly remember the smell of the oil stove in the room where we were welcomed during the early winter season, the sweet scent of the old wooden school building, and our dear friends who are no longer with us. Cooking rice in the cauldron was our main mission, but more than that, the time we spent with the people was the core of the party.

 Later, we were invited by curators Taro Amano and Shingo Yamano to hold Voin Pahoin at the Koganecho Bazaar, an art festival that started in the Koganecho area of Yokohama in 2008. During the preparations for the festival, we began to initiate activities that would facilitate artists, community members, staff, and friends of Voin Pahoin to mingle. During the festival, we made the parties more accessible to the public, which included a performance by Atsushi Yamamoto that was disguised as a local traditional festival and a picnic with Quadrado (a unit formed by Yokohama-based artists Kaori Tazoe and Michiko Shoji for the Koganecho Bazaar). 

From left to right: Kumi Oiwa, Mizuki Endo, Takashi Arai, Mayumi Hirano, and Machiko Kuroda at ARCUS Project, 10 November 2007. Photo courtesy of Voin Pahoin.

ARCUS Project, 10 November 2007. Photo by Takashi Arai.

Yasutoshi Taniguchi and Shigeo Anzai at Interview Marathon by Voin Pahoin, Koganecho Bazaar, 23 November 2007.

Kumi Oiwa, Takashi Arai, and Mayumi Hirano with Jun Honma's work at Koganecho Bazaar, 26 July 2007.

Atsushi Yamamoto Wasshoi performance with Voin Pahoin, Koganecho Bazaar,  27 September 2007.

We are not gone yet.

Just around the time we were invited to participate in the Koganecho Bazaar, we gradually started to get busy with our respective work, and we naturally stopped holding the regular Voin Pahoin at our home as well as doing projects outside. Hirano has since moved away from the apartment in Yokohama, but we still occasionally hold Voin Pahoin upon our reunions. Voin Pahoin has become almost like an unexpected gathering of an extended family for us and for the people whom we met through the previous Voin Pahoin. 

Yokohama has an atmosphere that welcomes outsiders. It is a port city with a history of interaction with foreign cultures. People in Yokohama seek to find potential in undefined situations where different cultures and people mingle. Tazoe, who supported our spontaneous idea of starting Voin Pahoin, was also running the shared studio Scratch Tile at the time. Scratch Tile was not only a personal studio for production, but it was also kept open to the public by holding exhibitions and talks which invited anyone with interest in art to join.

Partly because we knew nothing about the place and had no ties to it, we were able to come up with this idea in the spur of the moment, but the idea was definitely made possible by Yokohama's atmosphere which welcomes rather than rejects the ideas of strangers. We also learned to remain open to others.

Whenever we became self-contained and self-protective in seeking the completion of the project, or whenever we were about to follow the so-called mainstream or the safe path, we received harsh yet loving criticism from those around us, who were keeping an eye out for new and unconventional expressions. We weren’t aware of it at the time, but looking back now, it is clear that even strangers were able to come into the extremely private space of our home and gained a shared sense of belonging because Voin Pahoin operated in a loose, spontaneous, and playful manner. 

In order to share the place, it is important for the host to remain chill. It is essential to leave space for unplanned happenings. It is also important to share food. Voin Pahoin was a practice for us to create that kind of space, and even though both of us are living and working in different places today, it feels like we're still continuing the practice. On one hand, we are now better equipped with management skills which may allow us to get grants and run the project with more dexterity, but on the other hand, we also know Voin Pahoin was able to bear fruits because of our unawareness, clumsiness, and unmediated wish to be connected with others. The short yet intense period of a year and a half during which we held Voin Pahoin monthly is an irreplaceable time for us. In fact, there are so many people who share the experience and memories with us and they still tell us that they look forward to the next Voin Pahoin. The presence of these people has been a great motivation for us to continue our practice.


Kumi Oiwa and Mayumi Hirano
December 18, 2020


Kumi Oiwa lives in Yokohama, Japan. She works at the Children's Workshop at Yokohama Museum of Art where she organizes workshops designed and facilitated by artists for children of various ages. Prior to her relocation to Yokohama in 2005, she worked as a staff of Tadashi Kawamata's long term project Coal Mine Tagawa.   

Mayumi Hirano currently lives and works in Manila, Philippines. She has been running the mobile art project Load na Dito with Mark Salvatus since 2016. She is part of the organizing team of Curating in Local Contexts workshop series along with researchers and educators Tessa Maria Guazon and Louise Salas. She is a faculty member of the Art Studies Department at the University of the Philippines Diliman.


ヴォイン・パホイン 月に8時間のパーティー
















その後、キュレーターの天野太郎さんと山野真悟さんに声をかけてもらい、2008年に横浜の黄金町地域で始まった黄金町バザールというアートフェスティバルにも出張した 。フェスティバルの準備期間中から、アーティスト、地域の人、スタッフとヴォインの仲間が一緒に時間を過ごせるような企画を開催し始めた。会期中も祭りを見立てた山本篤さんのパフォーマンスや、クアドラド(横浜を拠点に活動するアーティスト、田添かおりさんと荘司美智子さんが黄金町バザールのために結成したユニット)とのピクニックなどを開催した。













フリーランスのキュレーター。マニラと大阪を拠点に活動中。2016年より場所をもたないアートプロジェクト「ロード・ナ・ディト」をマーク・サルバトスと共同主宰。リサーチャー・エジュケーターのテッサ・マリア・グアゾンとルイス・サラスと「Curating in Local Contexts」ワークショップを主宰。

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Right People, Wrong Timing (RPWT) is a series of texts on defunct or inactive independent Asian arts initiatives that had crossed paths or ran parallel to Papaya’s own 20-year history. With new posts every Friday from August to December 2020, RPWT is kindly supported through a local grant by the Japan Foundation Manila.

Right People, Wrong Timing (RPWT)は、グリーン・パパイヤ・アート・プロジェクトの20年の歴史を通して交流のあった、または同じ時代に活動したアジアのインディペンデントのアート・イニシアチブの中から、一時的、または永続的に活動を休止しているイニシアチブに関するテキストを紹介するシリーズです。2020年8月から12月の期間中、毎週金曜日に新しい記事を掲載します。国際交流基金マニラ日本文化センターからの助成を受けています。