Art Center Ongoing



For five years from 2002 to 2006, an exhibition named “Ongoing” was held once a year in Tokyo and Yokohama. “Ongoing” was literally an ongoing exhibition, based on a system in which people born in the 1970s who were looking for a new way of art gathered to recruit artists of the same generation. Participants presented and evaluated each other’s works, and selected artists to be exhibited. It was an experimental attempt to highlight what kind of expression was emerging in the same era and what was interesting about it, without relying on existing values or systems, and to share it with the society.

A wide range of artists with different backgrounds participated in “Ongoing”, and we have developed a unique network of several hundred artists. This journey has also been a time of reflection and discovery regarding all aspects of contemporary artistic forms, also a growing awareness of the conventional art industry as well as the powerful consumer society that so easily consumes expression has been a major motivating factor in founding Art Center Ongoing.

On January 26, 2008, Art Center Ongoing opened in Kichijoji, Tokyo, with the aim of becoming a vibrant space that provides opportunities to encounter up-and-coming works of art and their concepts as an extension of daily life, not as passive consumption, but active consumption. Eliminating the existing generational boundaries, exhibition will be held once every two weeks to introduce must-see artists of the times, and the space expands its activities with a variety of events on weekends.

In 2011, the gallery introduced an admission fee system, which is unusual for a private art space. The decision was made to question the practice of “free admission” at galleries, at the same time, to present art with a clearer “responsibility”, and to be more accessible to society. The profits from the admission fee are used to maintain the space, and a portion is returned to the exhibiting artists.

In 2013, the “Ongoing AIR” artist-in-residence program was launched. The program invites artists and curators from Japan and abroad. Participants in the “Ongoing AIR” program stay at the Ongoing residence facility for two months to conduct artistic research and production. Exhibition at the Ongoing gallery will be held to present the results of their work. In addition to hosting artists, Ongoing AIR also organizes exchange programs regularly with overseas art spaces, and has sent numbers of Japanese artists abroad.

In 2016, Director Ogawa was granted an Asia Fellowship from the Japan Foundation to spend three months researching the activities of 83 art spaces in nine Southeast Asian countries. This allowed Art Center Ongoing to build new networks with artists, art spaces, and this experience in Southeast Asia has led to the formation of Ongoing Collective. The Ongoing Collective consists of 48 artists, curators, and coordinators associated with Art Center Ongoing, who have actively participated in domestic and international exhibitions, art projects, symposiums, residences and events.

In 2018, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of Art Center Ongoing and published “Art Center Ongoing 2008-2018” which summarizes its activities up to that point. The book is currently sold out and new editions are unavailable, but much of the content can be viewed on this website. In March 2021, Director Ogawa spent a year in Austria under the Agency for Cultural Affairs’ Overseas Study Program for Emerging Artists, and is scheduled to re-start Ongoing’s activities in the spring of 2022. As an independent art space, Art Center Ongoing will continue to take on the ongoing challenge of reaching new milestones, so please stay tuned for more information on its upcoming activities.