“At me, not the work…” A camera suddenly pointed at me at the exhibition venue February 25th 20:48

``The camera was pointed at me, not at my work,''

says a graduate student studying art.

After I explained my work to a man who came to the exhibition, he took a photo with me.

At exhibition halls and galleries, they ask about the artists' private lives and stalk them persistently.

Countermeasures have begun in various places to prevent acts that even affect activities.

Not to the work but to me...

Sachi Yoshida (pseudonym), who is studying art at graduate school, talked about her experience.

It happened at an exhibition when I was in my third year of university.

The off-campus exhibition hall is designed to take up one floor of the building.

Mr. Yoshida exhibited his photographic works together with other students.

A middle-aged man who came to the exhibition asked me about the work.

I was happy that someone was interested

, so I did my best to answer the questions.

``As a writer, I was really happy when someone said they wanted to know more about my work.I felt like I needed to talk to them politely about this, so I talked to them about it.''

After I finished speaking, the man asked me.

"Can I take a picture?" The

man's actions after that were unexpected.

The person who pointed the camera at it was Mr. Yoshida, not the work.

I was then asked to "sign" and write my full name.

``I don't remember it very clearly, but I do remember that it was so unexpected that I couldn't clearly say, ``No, I can't do that.''

After a while, when I calmed down, fear began to bubble up.

``What was that photo from earlier?'' `

`What on earth are you planning to do with that photo?''

There were other students besides Mr. Yoshida, some of whom were in charge of reception, others with their backs turned to the display. It is said that he was on the other side of the partition and was unable to consult with them.

"There's a man I'm looking for."

``There is a man who is looking for Mr. Yoshida's whereabouts.''

Later, at an exhibition held on campus, another student tells him.

``Do I know someone like that?''

Mr. Yoshida had no idea, but what came to mind was the man who was pointing the camera at him.

"Honestly, I was breaking out in a cold sweat. I thought, 'Maybe they're looking for me. I have to make sure they don't see me,' so I immediately ran to the back and waited for the time to pass, and the rest were people outside. I got through it by contacting them to see if there was anyone suspicious."

Although there is no proof that they are the same person, I have started receiving calls from people I don't know on social media.

“My direction has changed between my third year and this exhibition.”

``Some people may think it's a good thing that people keep watching my work, but for me, it reminded me of what happened before and I thought, ``I don't like it.''

Voices are now being heard all over the place.

The people and actions that engage in such acts are also called "gallery stalking" and "gallery harassment," and voices are now being raised all over the place.

These are the details of the damages reported in a survey on sexual harassment and power harassment in the art field conducted in 2021 by the Expression Field Investigation Team, an organization made up of artists.

``An elderly male customer who came to see an exhibition approached me and asked me to have an affair with him.'' I refused, but he started contacting me via SNS, which made me feel uncomfortable. ``While I was in the

gallery, "I was forced to have long conversations and hugged. Stalked, clingy on SNS, sent excessive DMs, etc." "I

was threatened and forced to have a relationship with her, citing her work. From then on, I never went near that gallery." (“Site


Expression” Harassment White Paper 2021 “Site of Expression Investigation Team”)

These complaints were received not only from women but also from men.

In addition to this, interviews revealed that there were cases in which ``I continued to receive calls every day, and I became depressed, and my dreams were cut short as I was no longer able to continue my creative activities.''

Why is it an issue now?

The necessary measures are

Why has this issue come up now?

What measures are necessary?

We spoke to Chika Igaya, a writer for Bengo4.com, who has been sounding the alarm on this issue.

She said that harassment has finally come to the fore as society moves towards improving harassment, but she also points out that the spread of social media has made the damage even more serious.

``It's great for artists to share their activities on SNS, but on the other hand, it's easy for their activities to be detected, and this can lead to the development of stalking.Also, anyone can create an account. Because you can send responses and direct messages, there are cases where you can't rest for 24 hours."

He says that what lies behind the problem is the "balance of power."

``There is a structure in which the power balance between those who want to sell and have their works evaluated is not equal to those who want to buy and evaluate their works.This structure inevitably creates a situation where the artists cannot express themselves strongly or reject their works.'' This means that people take advantage of this and cause damage.I think this problem is not limited to the art industry, but occurs in situations where there is an imbalance of power, such as customer harassment.''

how to protect students

Under these circumstances, universities around the country that serve as exhibition venues for graduation exhibitions and school festivals are also looking for ways to respond.

Musashino Art University, which has two campuses in Tokyo, began a university-wide initiative last year.

The project began when one student was unable to continue creating his work due to persistent harassment.

President Yukazu Kabayama, who was the teacher in charge at the time, said the following.

``Whenever we held an exhibition for a certain student, there was a person who always came to the venue and put some kind of pressure on him.I discussed it with the student himself, but it became difficult for him to draw because he was worried about various things.'' As a teacher, I was extremely disappointed, and I thought I had to do something about how to protect my students."

We have also strengthened measures for the graduation/completion exhibition held in January this year.

The number of security guards has been doubled to 10.

We have also increased the number of patrols.

In the event that a student is victimized, we have decided on a procedure to inform everyone, including who to report and how to respond to those who engage in such acts.

Students also take measures themselves

Students themselves are also taking measures.

Last year, volunteers established the ``Gallery Stalker Countermeasures Committee,'' and we worked on this at the January exhibition.

In addition to putting up caution posters throughout the venue, we also made flyers containing the information and distributed them along with pamphlets at reception.

Under this policy, we have made it known that we may report to the police if we persistently ask for personal information, use obscene language or behavior, or are forced to secretly take or take photographs.

Furthermore, in order to understand the actual situation of damage on campus, we have created a submission form where you can write your experiences.

Student working on the countermeasures committee

: ``Thinking from a fellow student's perspective, ``I want you to take countermeasures against visitors and those people who think it's scary'' or ``dangerous.'' However, I feel that there are situations in which students are already well past the point where they can take on the role of cautioning such people.''

While measures are being taken, it is said that there are some difficulties as the venue is open to the outside world.

President Kabayama

: ``In order for a variety of people to see the work, we have to let a large number of unspecified people into the venue, and there are people who are passionately interested in the work and are talking with the artist.There are various cases. This makes it extremely difficult to determine whether the behavior is problematic or not."

These measures are now starting at universities across the country.

At least five universities we interviewed, including Tokyo University of the Arts and Tama Art University, increased security guards and strengthened patrols during the exhibition period, and distributed posters and flyers to warn visitors. It means that there is.

“Having a common understanding”

How should society as a whole deal with this?

Chika Igaya, a writer who has been sounding the alarm on this issue, says that first of all, it is necessary to create a point of contact that is easy for writers, many of whom are freelance, to consult.

Furthermore, she points out the importance of having a common understanding in a society that is trying to improve harassment.

``I think society is gradually gaining the understanding that ``this is this kind of harassment'' and ``this kind of behavior is unacceptable'' when it comes to general harassment, so this issue is no different. I think it's important for everyone to come to a common understanding that ``this kind of behavior is a nuisance'' and ``this kind of behavior is harmful to the artist.''

“Pain for the majority of people”

Sachi Yoshida (pseudonym), introduced at the beginning of this article, is studying art at graduate school.

An incident at an exhibition during his third year at university led him to stop using his real name and use his artist name when working.

Every time I go to an exhibit, I'm worried that I might run into a visitor like the man who pointed his camera at me.

On the other hand, he says there is a reason why he continues to stand at the venue.

``I think it's the right thing for an artist to create and present their work, and even in the future, exhibiting is something that is really essential and has great meaning in building a career.'' What is it?”

That's why I regret that we are now forced to be so cautious.

``The reason why I'm wary of some of these people and worry that if I smile too much, I might show an opening is because I'm wary of the majority of people who come purely to see the works.'' There is a lot of pain in my heart.”

(Network News Department Reporter Shie Kanazawa; Good Morning Japan Director Minami Fukuda)