Through photography, performance and film, Chikako Yamashiro (b. 1976, Okinawa, Japan) dramatises the lesser-known aspects of Okinawa’s contemporary reality, while questioning dominant historical accounts of Japanese and American occupation of the islands. Yamashiro’s practice engages with political and social histories of Okinawa to create provocative and haunting works, drawing on oral accounts and often utilising her own body.
White Rainbow presents the first UK solo exhibition by acclaimed performance and video artist Chikako Yamashiro (b.1976, Okinawa, Japan).
Yamashiro’s exhibition inaugurates a new 12 month season of exhibitions and projects by leading contemporary Japanese artists Chikako Yamashiro, Chim↑Pom, Aki Sasamoto, Taro Izumi, Meiro Koizumi and Mari Katayama. The organisation’s new non-profit model supports artist development, championing the work of emerging and mid-career Japanese artists working in a range of media, with particular focus on performance, film and installation-based practices.
Yamashiro, the winner of the Asian Art Award 2017, dramatises the lesser-known aspects of Okinawa’s contemporary reality, while questioning dominant historical accounts of Japanese and American occupation of the islands. The site of fierce battles between the US and Japan at the end of World War Two, Okinawa still has a high concentration of American military bases, occupying around 20 per cent of the land — despite the wishes of many of its indigenous inhabitants. Yamashiro’s practice engages with political and social histories of Okinawa to create provocative and haunting works, drawing on oral accounts and often utilising her own body.
Yamashiro’s early performance work OKINAWA TOURIST (2004) is a sequence of three short performances to camera: Trip to Japan, Graveyard Eisa and I Like Okinawa Sweet. Taking its name from a tourism operator on the island, the work amounts to a parody of a tour of Okinawa. Yamashiro’s deployment of cliché ridicules how such explorations of place can gloss over socio-political truths. Whether devouring ice creams in front of a military base, or staging a typical Okinawan dance in a graveyard, Yamashiro sought to show how the US military presence continues to permeate life on the island.
In Seaweed Woman (2008), Yamashiro mythologises herself as a creature of the sea. In the
photographic series, the artist is pictured covered in weeds, floating listlessly in the current,
in the sea off Henoko. The area was known for its blue coral and population of dugongs, but was built over to construct the new American military base despite near-unanimous domestic opposition. Yamashiro’s immersive video installation submerges the viewer in this mystical world, presenting the American military relocation from her underwater perspective. The artist’s body comes to symbolise Okinawan subjugation at the hands of Japan and the United States.
More recently Yamashiro has begun to shift from performing in her own works to featuring third party subjects. Her latest film, Mud Man (2016), uses a male protagonist for the first time, and was filmed in South Korea’s Jeju and in Okinawa, with Japanese and Korean languages mixed, and the landscape of the two islands juxtaposed. The work continues Yamashiro’s interest in employing flesh and the earth as metaphors for the political body of Okinawa. Mud Man is presented in White Rainbow’s new purpose-built cinema space.
White Rainbow will publish a new monograph on the artist, to launch in April 2018. The catalogue will include installation photographs alongside a newly commissioned essay by Isabella Maidment and an artist response by Claire Potter.
Yamashiro’s recent exhibitions include: From Generation to Generation: Inherited Memory and Contemporary Art (2016-17, Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco/USA), SEVEN JAPANESE ROOMS (2016-17, Fondazione Carispezia, La Spezia/Italy), 2016 Aichi Triennale (2016, the former Meiji-ya Sakae Building, Aichi), the 8th Asian Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (2015-16, Queensland Art Gallery /Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane/Australia), East Asia Feminism: FANTasia (2015, Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul/Korea), MAM Project 018:Chikako Yamashiro (2012, Mori Art Museum Gallery 1, Tokyo). Selected publications include: Circulating World: The Art of Chikako Yamashiro (2016, Yumiko ChibaAssociates), Chikako Yamashiro (2012, Yumiko Chiba Associates).
Selected Solo Exhibitions
2018 Shapeshifter, White Rainbow Gallery, London, UK
2018 Asian Art Award 2017 supported by Warehouse TERRADA. Grand Prize Exhibition at Art Stage Singapore, Marina Bay Sands Expo & ConventionCentre, Singapore
2017 The Sea of Being, RENEMIA, Okinawa, Japan
2016 The Beginning of Creation: Abduction/A Child, Yumiko Chiba Associates viewing room Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
2012-13 MAM Project 018: Chikako Yamashiro, Mori Art Museum Gallery 1, Tokyo, Japan
2012 The Body of Condonement, Yumiko Chiba Associates viewing room Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
2010-11 Choros of a Song, Yumiko Chiba Associates viewing room Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
2008 Virtual Inheritance, gallery rougheryet, Okinawa, Japan
2007 Garden Talk, KANDADA, Tokyo, Japan
2005 Anyway…, gallery rougheryet, Okinawa, Japan
2004 OKINAWA TOURIST, Maejima Art Center, Okinawa, Japan
2002 Woman at Graveyard, Maejima Art Center, Okinawa, Japan
Selected Group Exhibitions
2018 Okinawa Prefectural Museum 10th Anniversary Special Exhibition: A Reunion with the Sea: Realism as Modern Asian Thought, Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum, Okinawa, Japan
2017 Asian Art Award 2017 supported by Warehouse TERRADA, Finalists Exhibition, TERRADA ART COMPLEX, Tokyo, Japan
2017, KYOTOGRAPHIE 2017, Horikawa Oike Gallery, Kyoto, Japan
2017 Move on Asia, Alternative Space LOOP, Seoul, Korea
2016-17 From Generation to Generation: Inherited Memory and Contemporary Art, Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, USA
2016-17 SEVEN JAPANESE ROOMS, Fondazione Carispezia, La Spezia, Italy
2016 2016 Aichi Triennale, The former Meiji-ya Sakae Building, Nagoya, Japan
2015-16 The 1st Asia Biennial/The 5th Guangzhou Triennial, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China
2015-16 The 8th Asian Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia
2015 Local Prospects: Time, Space and the Sea, Mitsubishi-jisho ARTIUM, Fukuoka, Japan
2015 East Asia Feminism: FANTasia, Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea
2015 MOMAT Collection, The National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo, Japan
2015 Beyond Hiroshima: The Return of the Repressed Wartime Memory, Performativity and the Documentary in Contemporary Japanese Photography and Video Art, The Genia Schreiber University Gallery, Tel Aviv University, Israel
2014 The Spiritual World Collection Exhibition 2014, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, Japan
2012-13 Women In Between: Asian Women Artists 1984-2012, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka / Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum, Okinawa / Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts, Tochigi / Mie Prefectural Art Museum, Mie, Japan
2012 ARTLINE KASHIWA 2012 “Kashiwa City Jack” – Asia Pacific Contemporary Media Arts from Daisuke Miyatsu Collection, Kara de Ganal, Chiba, Japan
2011 Invisibleness is Visibleness, MOCA TAIPEI, Taipei, China
2011 Sightseeing – A Journey Into Okinawan Art, Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum, Okinawa, Japan
2011 Body Talks?, SYMPOSIA Roppongi, AXIS Building, Tokyo, Japan
2011 Okinawa Art Action! Video & Performance, Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum, Goza Z Spece, Okinawa, Japan
2010-11 Radiant Moment: The New Snapshot, Contemporary Japanese Photography, vol.9, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, Japan
2010-11 Videozoom Japan: Re-framing the Everyday, Sala 1, Rome, Italy & Museo Pino Pascali, Bari, Italy
2010 Yebisu International Festival for Art & Alternative Visions: Searching Songs, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, Japan
2010 When I Love You and When I Hate You, Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum, Okinawa, Japan
2009 Into the Circumstances, Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts, Okinawa, Japan
2009 Hiroshima Art Document 2009, Old Factory of Army Clothes, Hiroshima, Japan
2009 Into the Atomic Sunshine in Sakima, Sakima Art Museum, Okinawa, Japan
2009 Into the Atomic Sunshine in Okinawa, Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum Okinawa, Japan
2008 OKINAWA PRISMED 1872-2008, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan
2008 Hiroshima Art Document 2008, Former Hiroshima Branch of Nippon Ginko, Hiroshima, Tokyo
2008 To-Lo video screening: Tokyo-London Artists’ Exchange, Stephen Lawrence Gallery, London, England
2007 The Tracks of Okinawan Culture, 1872-2007, Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum, Okinawa, Japan
2007 0 Year of Photograph, Citizens Gallery, PALLET, Okinawa, Japan
2007 VOCA 2007 – The Vision of Contemporary Art 2007, The Ueno Royal Museum, Tokyo, Japan
2005 Crossovers & Rewrites: BORDERS over ASIA, World Social Forum 2005, Museum of Contemporary Art, Porte Alegre, Brazil
2005 Kurashiki Contemporary Art Biennial Exhibition, The Western 2005, KAKE MUSEUM of ART, Okayama, Japan
2004 Asahi Art Festival, Okinawa Cafe “Kanasan”, Rice+, Tokyo, Japan
Selected Film Festivals/Screenings
2017 Festival Film Dokumenter | Yogyakarta Documentary Film Festival 2017, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
2017 Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, Forum Yamagata, Yamagata, Japan
2016 Aomori Museum of Art: 10th Anniversary Art Film Encounters, AOMORI MUSEUM OF ART THEATRE, Aomori, Japan
2016 AAS in ASIA 2016 HORIZONS OF HOPE, Film Screenings Islands – Across and Between, Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan
2016 Event celebrating the publication of Circulating World – The Art of Chikako Yamashiro, D& DEPARTMENT OKINAWA by OKINAWA STANDARD, Ginowan, Japan
2016 Artists’ Film Biennial: Next Year I Will Be Somewhere Else, selected by Ming Wong, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, England
2016 30th Image Forum Festival, Theatre Image Foru , Tokyo Kyoto Art Center, Kyoto, Fukuoka City Public Library, Fukuoka, Aichi Arts Center, Nagoya, Yokohama Art Museum, Yokohama, Japan
2016 TEGAMI – Japanese Art – Tomoko Inagaki Video Evening: Melting Point, FRISE, Hamburg, Germany
2015 20th Aichi Art Film Festival, Aichi Arts Center, Nagoya, Japan
2014 Hiroshima Peace Festival 2015 – 16, Artist Talk: Chikako Yamashiro & Katsuya Okuma, Hiroshima City University, Hiroshima, Japan
2014 10th Anniversary Screening Event for Yamashiro’s Film Production, Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum, Naha, Japan
2013 Roppongi Art Night 2013 Special Screenings of Chikako Yamashiro’s Film Work, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
2012 Women In-Between: Asian Women Artists 1984-2012 “Video Feature Week”, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan
2005 43rd Okayama Art Festival, Okayama Film Festival 2005, Eiga no Kioku [Memory of the Cinema], Okayama Oriental Museum, Okayama, Japan
2017 Grand Prix, Asian Art Award 2017 supported by Warehouse TERRADA
2005 Kurashiki Contemporary Art Biennial Exhibition, The Western, 2005
Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum, Takahashi Collection, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, The National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo, Mori Art Museum, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art, Australia.