Whose Stories?
October 2 to December 31, 2021
Central Gallery
Diyan Achjadi
Naoko Fukumaru
Mark Salvatus
Load na Dito
Tomoyo Ihaya
Reflecting on the experiences and narratives of "others," Whose Stories? shares the work of six artists of Asian descent. Through video installation, photography, animation, print media, drawing, collage, and restored ceramic works, artists Diyan Achjadi, Load na Dito, Naoko Fukumaru, Tomoyo Ihaya, Mark Salvatus, and UJINO convey personal histories told within a community of artists and woven across generations.

Developed through vivid pictorial narratives and animations, Diyan Achjadi’s work examines underlying ambiguous ideologies drawn from children’s popular culture. Currently based in Vancouver, BC, Achjadi spent her childhood in Indonesia during the Suharto regime in the 1970s and 80s. She uses a visual language drawn from popular children's media to tell stories that navigate militaristic and apocalyptic landscapes through the character of GIRL, a young girl who could represent an avatar of the artist herself.

Born in Japan and now based in Vancouver, BC, Tomoyo Ihaya’s work responds to the protests of Tibetan exiles as well as the racial and human rights abuses of refugees. Through detailed works on paper, Ihaya incorporates Tibetan Buddhist philosophy in her work through the Tibetan gesture of “ninjye,” extending compassion and recognition to those affected by oppression.

In the new installation Araw na nakapitapita (That day most eagerly awaited), and through his ongoing research project, Museo ng Banahaw, Mark Salvatus explores the symbolism of a well known holy mountain in his hometown of Lucban in the Phillipines. Using interwoven texts from his grandfather’s poetic story of Golden Bull, myths of unidentified flying objects on the mountain and fragmentary video collages from his digital archive to illustrate family experiences, Salvatus shares the unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on his community.

Now based in Quezon City, Philippines, Salvatus and his wife Mayumi Hirano started an artistic and research project in 2016 called Load na Dito that uses spaces as a site for knowledge sharing, inquiry, and discussion. For Whose Stories? Load na Dito is organizing experimental workshops to explore the possibility of exchanging personal stories through online dialogue.

UJINO, who was born and continues to live in Tokyo, Japan, creates sound sculptures and video installations that examine the postwar modernization of Japan. In a new video work, HOME MOVIE, the artist relates his lockdown conditions during the pandemic to this history. Featuring a model toy train in his DIY sound sculpture, UJINO depicts the complex ideologies of individuals living in the postwar period following the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in the early 1930s. The work incorporates an interview with the artist’s 97-year-old mother who spent time in Manchuria during the invasion and uses historical materials such as advertising posters, postcards, maps, war films and photographs as clues to the narrative.

Naoko Fukumaru brings the tradition of kintsugi, the Japanese art of golden joinery, to the exhibition. A five hundred year old method of restoring damaged ceramics, kintsugi is employed to enhance beauty and value by celebrating “imperfection.” Through the philosophy and technique of kinstugi, Fukumaru not only restores broken pottery, but imbues it with the power of transformation and resilience.

The works of each artist in Whose Stories? raises questions about how larger narratives of historicized groups are constructed and told. It asks: What experiences are excluded? Whose voices are silenced and marginalized? How can those voices be heard? How can we add our voices to create an alternative, inclusive, and more truthful history that restores individual human rights and dignity, and transforms our own future?

Whose Stories? explores how we perceive and position ourselves, as an individual in relation to world events, and how we take into account the experiences of others. The work of this diverse group of artists encourages a process of learning and un-learning; opening up new possibilities for co-existence and offering space to re-think our assumptions about the world.

A copy of the accompanying booklet is available here.

WATCH a tour of the exhibition led by curator Makiko Hara with artist Naoko Fukumaru here.

WATCH an artist's talk with Tomoyo Ihaya, held online on October 21, here.

WATCH an artist's talk with Mark Salvatus, held online on October 29, here.

WATCH a panel discussion with artists Diyan Achjadi and Jana Sasaki and curators Makiko Hara and Craig Willms, held online on November 18, here.

WATCH an artist's talk and online screening with UJINO, held online on November 25, here.

WATCH an artists' talk with Load na Dito, held online on December 3, here.
Curated by Makiko Hara
View images of the exhibition here.

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