June 2023


Art duo MES in front of Van Gogh House London.

Japanese artist duo MES (Kanae Tanikawa & Takeru Arai) lived in Van Gogh House for the month of June, 2023.

About MES’s residency

MES are a Tokyo-based artist duo formed by Kanae Tanikawa and Takeru Arai in 2015. Their work occupies the peripheries of contemporary art and club culture, with a deep interest in development, gentrification and migration.

Their time in London was spent observing the city, looking at the spaces and movements that have defined the relationships between dance, politics and people – from Brixton’s Electric Avenue to the Criminal Justice Act of 1994.

During their residency MES visited Liverpool Biennale, hosted a workshop at the house and also created laser visuals for a radio programme. The residency ended with a series of traces left in the building, from heat generating charcoal, to videos exploring ice and body heat in the building.

“Often artists sacrifice their lives to create. London is also a busy city, but during the residency we were able to spend time very slowly. Compared to hotels or hostels, staying in the Van Gogh House was unique experience. We enjoyed growing plants in the garden, eating next to the artwork, and feeling the layers of history of the house. We especially enjoyed the daily watering of plants in the garden, which was a meditative moment in our daily routine.” 


HI-TO Workshop

MES invited participants to explore the Van Gogh House through the lens of temperature. We played a version of ‘hide and seek’ around the house, using a thermal camera to search for hidden piles of heated charcoal, before moving to the garden to make drawings with Ice. 

MES often use lasers to draw and make images for their installations and VJ sets. In the second half of the workshop, they projected these lasered images onto their bare skin. Through the thermal camera we were able to observe how the lasers transferred heat to skin.

Thermal image of HI-TO workshop participants

Brixton Radio Show

On the 19th June, MES collaborated with producer/artist duo Enharmonics on a radio show at local station Brixton Radio. Brixton Radio is a community radio station based in the heart of South London as a hub for artists, musicians and creatives to give freedom to express themselves, share ideas and promote their work.

On a radio show for Brixton Radio

MES used their lasers to create visuals to accompany Enharmonics’ set.

Enharmonics’ set can be listened to here ⟶

MES at Brixton Radio with Enharmonics DJ duo.


MES left hidden piles of activated charcoal and a new video work in the house, for people to encounter on June’s guided tours.

Visitor using thermal imaging camera during 'hide and seek' activity at MES's workshop

Since it was our first time in London, we had multiple research objectives. Some of them were surprisingly expansive and very meaningful. For example, we were able to experience the current state of the music scene beyond Covid-19, and the activities of the queer and immigrant communities that are involved with it. We learned some things about the political situation in the UK as well.” 



This residency was supported by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation. The artists also collaborated with Brixton Radio and Enharmonics.