After many months absence, the art book store Nadiff re-opened in a new building in Ebisu. The opening last night was a scrum. Unwisely, some of the tenant galleries in the building placed their congratulatory flower vases on the narrow steps leading through the building, effectively making the stairs huge congestion zones. When I left, just after 7pm, there were perhaps 100 people waiting in line outside to get in. Magical Art Room and two other galleries have spaces in the building, and there is a bar/ cafe on the roof.
The new building seemed to be another good example of the survival strategy of art spaces in Tokyo to huddle together in shared premises. It certainly makes for a more convenient experience for the consumer.
On the topic of convenience, I have recently been imagining at my university seminars what it would be like if Japan banned convenience stores, or at least made them In-Convenience stores (In-Vini, to shorten the word like Con-bini). The idea emerged when thinking about what inconvenience means today, especially in a city like Tokyo where such privilege is placed on the ideal of 'service'. At a time when the birth rate is declining and part time workers are beginning to map the economic future of this country, I wonder what significance 'service' has? Being inconvenienced may actually be highly liberating. They are perhaps moments (cracks) when one is made aware of the multiple normally invisible economic and labour frameworks which sustain everyday life in a city. Inconvenience means waiting, becoming emotionally agitated or finding something difficult - all actually processes which most children are taught to understand and accept in varying ways. As one enters the mature labor market and begins to move in certain kinds of social circuits, the notion of being inconvenienced somehow emerges as a major issue. Recognizing the many types of inconvenience though, I nonetheless feel that things have gotten overly convenient. The convenience store is the primary physical symbol of this tendency, and also a place (or perhaps more accurately a 'non-place' in Auge's sense) which actually perversely sustains micro-conveniences which must be constantly re-supplied. So, maybe in a strange way the convenience store is actually already the in-convenience store, manufacturing a looped system of micro-desires and micro-satisfactions with no perceivable end in sight.
My brother, Peter's, book (blue) was piled up on the Nadiff display shelf.