This gallery in Shinagawa wants you to steal the art in its July exhibition

Same Gallery will be open 24 hours a day for anyone looking to decorate their home with some stolen art

Emma Steen
Written by
Emma Steen

If you’ve ever fantasised about pulling off a heist without any real consequences, this might just be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. Same Gallery in Shinagawa is inviting people to steal the artworks that will be displayed at an upcoming show in July. The exhibition will begin on July 9, like any other regular art shows, with an opening reception from 6pm to 9pm. But, from the following day, the gallery will be open 24/7 and any works on display will be fair game to steal. 

The pieces up for grabs won’t be just anybody’s boring watercolours, either. Both local and overseas artists will be featured, including new media art duo Exonemo, graphic designer Masako Hirano and painter Joji Nakamura – each using their own distinctive styles and mediums.

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Through this experimental event, the gallery is prompting an exploration of the relationship between artists and viewers when the boundaries of a conventional art gallery are destroyed. What’s more, it raises the question of the kind of works artists will choose to display, knowing that they will be taken. 

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Of course, this isn’t meant to be a total free-for-all. There are a few conditions that the gallery asks you to follow before you make off into the night with potentially priceless artwork. Firstly, you must only attempt to take one work and leave the rest to be pilfered by others. You may take a work that’s on display, but you can’t replace it with the works of other artists or bring in your own – this isn’t a way to get rid of your old high school sketchbook. Any vandalism or damage to the property will be reported to the authorities. Lastly, you must make as little noise as possible (a necessity in any heist) to avoid disturbing the gallery’s neighbours.

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While there’ll be no security guards on duty, the gallery will be under video surveillance, so find a way to disguise yourself if you don’t want your face on the footage  – it’ll be put online at a later date. The exhibition is scheduled to run until July 19, or until all the works disappear, whichever happens first. 

Before you go 'steal' some art, read our guide on how to go out safely.

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