Artist Kenji Yamada primarily focuses on challenging historical legacy in contemporary society, with a particular emphasis on war heritage and historical ruins. He does this by readdressing conventional wisdom, looking at the interdependent relationship between legacy and society, and illustrating the ways in which historical legacies are embodied in society. The exhibition Transgressive Heritage consists of two projects the artist completed in 2016: one in the UK and the other in China. By exposing the interregional nature of society and through the re-activation of historic remains both in London and Shanghai, Yamada attempts to provide a paradoxical yet tactical approach to counter the unilateral relationship with states and governments, the powerful authors of the history.
In this talk, Yamada was joined in conversation by Kyoko Iwaki, researcher and Associate Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, to discuss the exhibition and his practice.
About the contributors
Kenji Yamada is an artist who explores conflict between historical ruins and modern constructions. He is interested in paradoxes emerging from the application and misuse of remains and heritage sites, including war ruins. After the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami in March 2011, he has continued examining his approaches to the global world as a nomadic and social being, like environmental refugees in different parts of the world. His expressions evoke his audiences’ fundamental sensibility to see through social environments and phenomena and at the same time awaken an accidental imagination in them. Yamada expands the critical points and limitations through numerous phases in order to highlight the grey area for innovative thoughts. Yamada works for Tokyo University of Arts as an Associate Researcher, and previously held posts at Tokyo University of Arts as an Assistant Professor and at Central Saint Martins as a Distinguished Associate Lecturer. He currently lives and works in Tokyo and London. He received the POLA Art Foundation Grant for overseas research in 2016-17.
Kyoko Iwaki is a theatre researcher and journalist specialising in contemporary Japanese theatre. She has been an Associate Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London since 2012. Iwaki has contributed to various media outlets such as Asahi Shimbun and has conducted interviews in 24 countries. In 2011, she published Tokyo Theatre Today (Hublet Publishing) and has co-authored books such as Fukushima and the Arts (Routledge, 2016) and A History of Japanese Theatre (Cambridge University Press, 2016). She is a Creative Partner of the Kanagawa Arts Theatre and in 2015 she became the Chief Director of Scene/Asia Project: a pan-Asian curators and researchers platform consisting of partners from five Asian regions. Iwaki will co-curate the Spielart International Theatre Festival in Munich in November 2017.