“Socially Engaged Art in Asia” Talk

Lecture: Socially Engaged Art in Asia

The term “socially-engaged art” has been used in the West since the early 2000s, but there has been little examination of the extensive number of cases in which it has been employed in Asia Pacific. There have been dynamic relationships between art and social activism for decades in Japan; and recently the number of art projects undertaken in the name of social revitalization are increasing. Why is such activism emerging? And what kind of social change will it bring? What does creating such works, projects, and movements mean for art and greater society? This lecture series aims to find new perspectives from the Asian region in both art and society amidst these complex developments through examining domestic and foreign case studies.

Image may contain: 6 people, people sitting and indoor

25 June 2017
Hiroshi Fuji (Artist/Professor, Akita Art University)
Meruro Washida (Curator, Kanazawa 21st Century Art Museum)
James Jack (Artist/Researcher, Social Art Lab Kyushu University)
Yuichiro Nagatsu (Assistant Professor, Social Art Lab Kyushu University)
Former Daimyo Elementary School, Fukuoka




“The Making of an Institution” exhibit CCA Singapore

James Jack. Khayalan Island from Pulau Balakan Mati (As seen by a seven-year old island resident). Digital Inkjet print, 2015

Khayalan Island is rumored to have disappeared from the Singapore harbor in the beginning of the nineteenth century when the British were establishing a post in Southeast Asia. This work has been made while searching for the island in the complex realities surrounding Singapore today. Links between islands are discovered with archipelagic thinking that led to an investigation of the islands in Seribu, Setouchi, Ryukyu and Riau. The search resulted in a collection of poems, titled Stories of Khayalan, shaped by the voices of former island residents, maritime diaries and the actual experience of searching for Khayalan. Inspired by this exploration, the poem Reparative Islands is read aloud by two participants on a boat trip in the South Harbor. The night before the search trip, the seven-year old participant, an islander himself, made an image of the island. Presented in an intimate installation that merges memory and imagination, the poem — read aloud by the artist, Veryan and Jasper Stephens — and the image serve as mnemonics for reimagining the rich stories of the island we live on today.


James Jack. Reparative Islands. 2016, Sound installation view at Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore. 2017

The Making of an Institution is divided into four sections borrowed from the structure of a public report: Reason to Exist: The Director’s ReviewOwnership, Development, and AspirationsArtistic Research; and Communication and Mediation. The section dedicated to Artistic Research frames the material and immaterial aspects that constitute contemporary art practices. It takes over the Centre’s physical Spaces of the Curatorial—The Exhibition Hall, The Single Screen, The Lab, and The Vitrine—juxtaposing artworks and research projects by NTU CCA Singapore’s Artists-, Curators-in- Residence, and Research Fellows alongside various formats of public programming.

The public report will culminate into a book planned for publication in mid-2017, gathering the voices of all the artists, curators, researchers, and academics who have contributed to this first phase of the Centre.

The Making of an Institution is curated by Ute Meta BauerAnna Lovecchio, Curator, Residencies, and Anca Rujoiu, Manager, Publications.

Exhibition website

“From Stone to Sand” exhibit in Fukuoka

From Stone to Sand


Artistic Director: James Jack

Special Cooperation: Kozo Ota (Love FM)


February 4-12th, 2017

Enjoy Art Space Daimyo

This participatory exhibit fills the gallery with stones that change each day of the exhibit according to different patterns of “flow”. These patterns are derived from two different places: Yame and Fukuoka. The unique time and space of each place determined the pathways in this historical art space which has seen diverse utility over the past century. The metaphor of “from stone to sand” opens a new perspective on time that is informed by the layers which support our everyday life in between one place and another.


Saturday, February 4th
Talk Event and Opening Reception

“The Life of Dirt” Talk Event
James Jack (Artist)
Kozo Ota (Love FM)
Tetsuo Ohashi (Yame Organic Tea Farmer)

Sound Mix
MASUO (CAS Fukuoka)

Opening Reception 

Enjoy Art Space Daimyo Map

Saturday/Sunday 12:00-18:30
Weekdays 14:00-19:30
Closed on Mondays
(Exhibit closes early on the last day at 16:00)

**Admission to the art space and all special events are free to all.

Download event postcard HERE


From Stone to Sand: 縁側のながれ


特別協力:大田こぞう(LOVE FM「月下虫音」)


エンジョイスペース大名  →地図


「石から砂へ」というメタファーを用いながら、二つの場所の間にある時間と空間を想起し、「ながれ」 について思いを巡らす参加型展示です。福岡と八女という一見異なる二つの場所について、日常を織りなすさまざまなレイヤー (層)に目を向け、両者のつながりを浮かびあがらせます。


2月 4日(土)トーク+レセプション

17:00 生きる土(The Life of Dirt)  大橋鉄雄(お茶の大幸園|八女・笠原)、James Jack(アーティスト) ほか
18:30 糅て音〈かておと〉(Sound Mix)   MASUO(CAS Fukuoka)
19:00 オープニングレセプション *ドリンク代は実費となります。

2月 5日(日)汽水域の渦(Brackish Water Swirl) 制作:「地域づくりとアート」実践プログラム受講生

14:00    映画「まちや紳士録」上映会
15:30    トークイベント    伊藤有紀(映画監督)、渡邊瑠璃(ART HUB 三樹荘)

土・日 |12:00~18:30
平日     |14:00~19:30
月         |休み


Download event postcard HERE


Photos by Akiko Tominaga

“Gen Gen Ten” Exhibit in Iwaki, Fukushima




Gen Gen Ten

October 22 – November 13

New works on paper featuring 88 samples of dirt on paper gathered over the past year by James Jack included in this unique exhibition.

Iwaki Alios Center 1F & Moritakaya Art Center 1F

Iwaki City, Fukushima, Japan






Iwaki Window (試作)




“Eight Layers of Dirt” Installation

Eight Layers of Dirt

James Jack

4 channel stereo sound installation

Variable dimensions





Dirt is a part of us. Just as our body is composed of cells, organs and systems—so too is the earth. This fragile earth supports our life, yet we often separate ourselves from it. Art provides one method for healing our fractured relationship with the land we inhabit. It gives us a glimpse into the layers of earth, where the possibility to rediscover ourselves inside the beautiful dirt exists. This work is composed of interviews with eight women, four of whom live in Fukuoka and four who live in Yame. The artist spoke with each of the women about their life stories, focusing on the complicated relationship they each have with the place they live. As these conversations unfold, the spirit of each place gradually comes into view from the ground up. The unique stories collected here provide a glimpse at the current layers of the land seen through the eyes of eight strong women.
Interview Participants:

ASATSUYU: Mari Kanazawa + Haruka Harashima

YAMAKAI: Satsumi Miyazono + Miki Matsunaga

SANMIDORI: Aiko Hara + Sayako Tachi

YABUKITA: Ayako Ohashi + Nami Kurita



October 2016

Organizer: Social Art Lab, Kyushu University

More info (Japanese): http://www.sal.design.kyushu-u.ac.jp/artmanagement.html

Photos by: Akiko Tominaga




4チャネル ステレオサウンド・インスタレーション




“Small Islands with Big Visions,” roundtable at Sunset House

Sunset House, Konoura, Shodo Island, Artwork No. 086

Monday, October 10th, 13:30-15:30 pm
Michelle Lim (Curator and Art Historian, Singapore/U.S.)
Yoshitaka Mouri (Cultural Studies Scholar, Japan)
James Jack (Artist, Japan)


This special event will reflect on art as it engages with society on two small islands: Singapore and Shōdo. What can art do for communities and the social realities of each island? This special event will reflect on the relationship of art activities in the wider social landscape. Current issues will be considered through artistic and scholarly perspectives while searching for alternative visions for today. Together with the opinions of local residents and visitors, creative visions will resound from Sunset House: The House as Language of Being.

For more info: [Japanese only]:

Artist Interview on LOVE FM Fukuoka

James Jack artist interview July 14, 2016 listen here:

“Living Dirt” Symposium

The last dirt samples have been added to “Dirt Stage” today on the last day of the Water and Land Art Triennial in Niigata. After adding the last twelve samples to the grid, a symposium was held to discuss the meaning of this work and its process. It was an incredibly meaningful yet emotional day as we faced the last day of the three-month exhibition in Niigata. Many questions about the work emerged in the symposium together with guest Meruro Washida and artists James Jack, Yoshitaka Nanjo and Shotaro Yoshino at Base Camp.

The symposium titled “Living Dirt: Memory and Rebirth in This Place” was focused on questions that have arisen based on the activities of World Dirt Association. Core issues arose on the topic of the balance between collecting, moving and exhibiting dirt as well as the balance between earth and information. Specifically the focus of this discussion was on the background for this work, the collaboration which ensued as well as the methods for reconsidering our relationship to dirt. The problems of working with living materials was addressed while thinking about the distinctions between interior and exterior spaces.
Together with numerous volunteers in all stages of this project, we found new layers of dirt which lies beneath us. The life of dirt as a medium for other microorganisms, insects and plants was reflected on in the context of art as something that needs to be protected from ageing. This work deals directly with time, specifically mapping the passage of time with the addition of dirt samples into the grid. In a symmetrical structure the spontaneity of dirt samples sent from 115 sites over the past three months has brought together this artwork.


“Dirt Stage” WDA exhibit

The World Dirt Association (James Jack, Yoshitaka Nanjo + Shotaro Yoshino) opened “Dirt Stage” to the public this past weekend at the Water and Land Art Festival 2015. Seventy-five samples have been collected from across the world focusing primarily on Japan with more than half of the samples from Niigata Prefecture. There was an enthusiastic response to the activities of WDA for the local connections as well as the global relevance of histories of dirt today.


As can be seen in these preview images, each sample has its own unique color, texture and history. By arranging them in a grid, WDA aims to open the possibility for reconsidering the relationship of one site with another. Furthermore the formal structure of the installation is contrasted with the contingency of each dirt sample and the site where it was collected.



An introduction to the activities of WDA is made in a video work shown at the entrance to the work, followed by the grid of soil samples currently in progress. When the grid has been completed there will be 133 samples indoors and 27 additional samples outdoors. Finally the pathway between the sample which forms the stage continues outdoors to a stunning view of the surrounding field and ocean.


This final view of the earth which is composed of earth will remain a mystery for those who visit the site. The exhibition is open until October 12th with free entrance to all so come visit to see the World Dirt Association’s new artwork in person.