30 September 2014

Yoi Kawakubo: Art after Fukushima and Tohoku (Talk at ICA at 2pm on 8 October)

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Yoi Kawakubo is a photographer and artist, born in Spain and currently based in Tokyo.He bases his works on themes regarding the ontology of photography, light, and social issues such as disaster affected areas of Fukushima and Tohoku. On Wednesday 8 October at 2pm, he will give a talk at the ICA in London (in partnership with the University of the Arts London: Camberwell, Chelsea, Wimbledon).

Since 2012 Yoi Kawakubo has been exploring the boundaries of photography as a medium in an ontological manner, together with the limits of language and the medium itself.

Focusing on his interest and experiences in Fukushima, Kawakubo discusses cultural aspects of Japan, including references to Japanese contemporary art and culture like the current issues of nuclear power as well as his experiences in making work at Fukushima and Tohoku.

Kawakubo is visiting Camberwell College of Arts, Chelsea College of Arts and Wimbledon College of Arts (CCW), University of the Arts London, as part of an International Exchange Programme in association with Tokyo Wondersite. Whilst the artist is in London he will explore the history and the epistemology of language in the narrative, focusing in the English narrative in art and the use of stories, and do documentation research through small format photography in the city of London. Yoi is interested in the tradition of meta-storytelling and narrative that, from Shakespeare to Lewis Carroll, or artists like Ryan Gander or Simon Starling, is present in the British tradition.

 On Wednesday 8 October at 2pm, Yoi Kawakubo will give a talk at the ICA London (entry £5), details below:

Yoi Kawakubo, Art after Fukushima and Tohoku, website





Yoi Kawakubo was in conversation with Chris Wainwright, CCW and Robin Jenkins at the ICA on 8 October 2014. Kawakubo was born in Toledo, Spain and lived there until 18. Going to Japan, he studied philosophy, being very interested in Wittgenstein and the philosophy of language. Turning his …. He painted landscapes and then began taking digital photographs and making files.


His photographs are beautiful and his installations, witty.

In 2012/2013 he undertook a residency at Tokyo Wonder Site and in addition to his work on site, Kawakubo was also interested in visiting Tohoku, making films of the areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011 in order to keep the plight of the survivors in that area in people’s conscienceness.


In one film, Kawakubo dons protective clothing in order to enter the exclusion zone, within 20 km of the damaged nuclear plant, recording the shrill and ominous warning sounds recorded by the Geiger counter.

In Tohoku, Kawakubo is participating in Future Lab Tohoku 2014, collaborating with Japanese and foreign artists, musicians from a base in Iwate Prefecture.

Chris Wainwright emphasised the dire situation of those affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, saying that tens of thousands of people remain homeless, living in temporary housing and still paying mortgages on their devastated homes while waiting for new homes to be built on their land.

The artists are doing their best to engage with the injustice and contradictions of the present situation in Tohoku. It is hard to create meaningful art, admitted Wainwright, given the desperate situation of those living in this part of Japan.

Robin Jenkins said that the participating artists feel helpless as developers are working at creating new homes in the areas wipes out by the tsunami, merely adding 12 to 14 metres of earth to the land to raise it, but with no real care. The artificially raised land with nothing but soil added on top and without the use of any foundation, will gradually sink down in height, exposing these areas once more to the risk of being decimated by tsunami. There is a sense of impatience with the Japanese government which isn’t keeping to its promise of getting the displaced out of the prison-like temporary homes within three years. The deadline has come and gone, with little progress made it seems.

Kawakubo added that the various artists were engaging with the affected communities in northeast Japan through music and dance workshops.

Kawakubo and Wainwright cleaned an old people’s house in the exclusion zone which had been deserted on the day of the earthquake. They left one room spick and span and replaced batteries in the clocks and the radio. They left leaving the radio on, aware that no one would be able to live in this room for another 500 or 600 years.







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