FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: What is oral history?
A: The term "oral history" refers to historical information conveyed in speech that draws on the speaker's personal memories. In a wider sense, the term also suggests the act of documenting, preserving, and studying such spoken documents. For a longer version, see What is oral history?
Q: Who are the members of the Oral History Archives of Japanese Art?
A: The members of the Oral History Archives of Japanese Art are art historians and curators with an interest in modern and contemporary Japanese art. At present, there are twelve members involved with the project in Japan and three additional members currently residing in the U.S. who help us conduct interviews there. For a complete list of members, see Team.
Q: How is the interviewee chosen?
A: A wide range of people associated with the Japanese art world are considered as prospective interviewees, including artists, critics, curators, gallerists, editors, and administrative officials. At present, many of our interviewees are working within the context of contemporary art, but this is not indicative of a particular emphasis on any one trend.
Q: How is the interviewer chosen?
A: In many cases, we ask someone with a detailed, specialized knowledge of the work and career of the interviewee to serve as the main interviewer. In addition, we send at least one member of the archives, so in general the interview is conducted by two or three people. In other cases, when a member of the archives has the appropriate qualifications, they are appointed to be the main interviewer.
Q: How is the archives' policy decided?
A: Our policy is determined through discussions between the members in group meetings. As a result, the archives' activities are largely independent from the interests and work of individual members.
Q: How are the archives' activities funded?
A: We are a non-profit organization. Necessary expenses, such as honorariums, and travel and equipment costs for the interviews, are covered by grants.
Q: I have some interviews like these that I've conducted in the past but have never published. Would you publish them on this site?
A: Publishing outside interviews depends on a variety of factors, including the subject and method used in conducting the interview as well as its content and copyright issues. To inquire further, please send us an email via Contact Us.
Q: Can I reproduce material from the archive?
A: The material on the website can be used without permission from the archives provided it is for non-profit purposes (academic papers, art criticism, classroom use, etc.). In for-profit cases (commercial use, publication, etc.), written permission is required. To apply for permission, please send us an email via Contact Us. For information on text credits, please see Using Material.
Q: How do you deal with memory lapses in your interviews?
A: Because oral history is based on the recounting of individual memories, the speaker's stories are likely to include some inaccuracies. While memory lapses may not be historically correct, they have an emotional truth for the speaker, and provide a means of understanding their social milieu. Thus, when a comment is blatantly untrue, we add an explanatory note, but in general, we do not alter the transcripts by correcting any errors.
Q: Is it possible to directly access your audio and video documents?
A: At present, we are only able to publish transcripts of the interviews. In the future, however, there is a possibility that our materials will be made available publicly, provided we can set up a physical space to house the archives.
Q: Are the interviews accessible in English as well?
A: We would like to translate the interviews into English in the future, but at present, most of the interviews are published only in Japanese. For some interviews, though, partial translations are available on this website.