Winter Show

Two of my artworks are now on display in a group show at Satoshi Koyama Gallery in Nihonbashi, Tokyo. On the opening day there was an artists roundtable discussion in which we discussed our creative pathways and discovered junctures between us. At first the fluorescent light works of artist Mitsunori Kurashige felt very cold and a bit stale to me, but as our dialogue opened I realized his works are more about the viewer’s experience of space. He spoke of the view of the works from down on one’s knees and the intersections between the creases of theskg january 2013 wall and his blue lights. Once we realized that we had a mutual friend, artist Shingo Honda, there was a natural affinity in our approaches even though our artworks couldn’t look more distinct on the surface.

I spoke about my new photographic work that is part of the “Philosophies of Dirt” series created just this month. This work is based on my deep fascination with film strips, I remember developing film as a teenager, the excitement I felt when stretching out the wet negative film strips to dry. The light that passed behind these images now in physical form captured something raw, not only in those moments when the images were taken, but in the present moment gazing through these unedited film strips. Each image recalls a story in the connection between my own life and these places, part of which is held in a small sample of dirt that enters my studio but also part of which is contained in these photographs. The windows that I create in each drawing for the series “Philosophies of Dirt” are not so different from the windows of the camera, neither one is clear, but instead they contain the cloudy traces of experiences that are still occurring now.

Please come by and enjoy this exciting new exhibition open until February 9, 2013. Also there are only a couple of catalogs from my solo exhibition still available at the gallery so inquire soon to get your copy. This 58 page full-color catalog includes an essay by poet Brandon Shimoda alongside select drawings from the series “Philosophies of Dirt.” Order here.

Philosophies of Dirt

Solo Exhibition by James JACK

PHILOSOPHIES OF DIRT

September 29- October 27, 2012

Artist Talk with Daisuke Awata (Art Critic, Tokyo University of the Arts) Sept. 29th VIEW HERE

Artist Talk with Katsuro Anazawa (Environmental Scientist, Tokyo University) Oct. 27th VIEW HERE

A unique 58 page full-color catalog Philosophies of Dirt featuring a selection of James Jack’s work with an essay by Brandon Shimoda (in both Japanese and English) is available for purchase. Please inquire about ordering a copy of this catalog while it is still available by filling out the contact info HERE.

0Philosophy of Dirt is a series of works on paper composed with natural soil pigment completed over the past seven years by James Jack. The poet Brandon Shimoda writes, “His is a process of storytelling as critical engagement, with the artworks manifest as both living testimonial and decisive artifact. With Philosophies of Dirt, contingent sites become models of deep thought, exemplifying Jack’s art as an act of generously unfolding witness and reclamation.”

This series is based on intimate relationships the artist has developed with forty-six sites ranging from one edge of the Pacific in Oregon to the other side of the Pacific in Hokkaido. In each of these sites James Jack has engaged with local stories and developedpage1image11784 relationships with the environmentpage1image12480 relationships with the environment utilizing a place-specific approach borrowing a sample of the land. Standing in sites such as just outside the Pearl Harbor memorial on O‘ahu, Jack is deeply affected by paradoxes in the cultural, social, political, personal and geographic history of each site.

page1image15104

Nature is often assumed to refer to the natural environment limited to trees, mountains and soil. But Asian-American Art Center in New York City director Robert Lee states, “James Jack is the other side of the coin, not an Asian American but an American Asian story. This can be said to be an American trend of thought for whom Nature is a friend, deeply mysterious yet intimate, without impulse to exploit, conquer or fear.” Pondering the indirect surroundings for the work, such as where the artwork comes from and where it goes can initiate the process of linking artworks to a wider environment. Jack states, “I make new artworks that emerge from this gap composed of conflicting social histories, ecological trauma, rich stories and other indirect factors.” Furthermore the artist has found methods of relating to this contingent site that do not express, but actually contain these deep relationships to the environment.page2image13872

Artist James JACK (b. 1979) is currently pursuing a doctorate at Tokyo University of Arts in Studio Art. While pursuing his Master’s degree at University of Hawai‘i, he was awarded the prestigious Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship to pursue artistic research in Tokyo from 2008-2010. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at TAMA Gallery in New York City, Beppu-Wiarda Gallery in Portland Oregon and the Honolulu Museum of Art. Selected group exhibitions include The Persistence of Line at Kentler Drawing Center in New York City, Yokohama Boogie at ZAIM in Yokohama, Art & Ecology at the Portland Art Center as well as an upcoming work that will be featured in the Setouchi International Art Festival in 2013. He is also an accomplished art writer who has published interviews with Byron Kim, Shigeo Anzaï, Shingo Francis and Rei Naito as well as contributing to exhibition catalogs on Mono-ha, Yoshihiro Suda and Enokura Kōji. His numerous art awards include the Annie Wong Arts Foundation in Hong Kong, Fulbright Foundation and the Japan Foundation.

page2image14408
page2image14680

Sunset House Video

A video document on the history of the town, the layers of stories in the building and my engagement with the site for SUNSET HOUSE has been completed. It was premiered in Tokyo together with a reading by poet Brandon Shimoda for the event “O Bon, Memories and the Seto Inland Sea” last month. The video engages with forgotten histories such as a stone quarry in the town of Kounoura and the Mutsumi clubhouse which was the source for the building materials used to make this structure. After making initial site visits to the island of Shodo in 2009 and beginning to work with the historic building in 2010 I literally felt stories were seeping from the walls of the building. Those stories were invisible but could be felt strongly while spending time in the community. The second stage of production at SUNSET HOUSE involved writing those stories on paper and affixing them to the mud walls. Now these memories, hopes and dreams are all inside the walls which have been closed with yakita, or burnt wood clapboards. This process is all documented in the following video document. This trailer is just a sample of the entire film which is just over 30 minutes long [Japanese/English subtitles are forthcoming]. Please contact the artist if you are interested in holding a screening of the film in a theater, cafe or gallery in your city. For more information about the artist please see the following digital portfolio from artists space.

SUNSET HOUSE Video Document (Trailer)

A Project by James Jack

32 minutes 09 seconds

2010-2013

Setouchi International Art Festival

Artist in Residence

8I am working with natural pigments and an assortment of local materials in my new studio in the Setouchi Inland Sea as an artist in residence through the end of the year.  The region has been experiencing a swelling of contemporary art projects that are revitalizing small villages by utilizing empty spaces for art installations. Naoshima was the first example of how a small island could serve as a hub for contemporary art projects and was recently the topic of this article in the New York Times. The project I have been invited to participate in is on the larger island of Shodo and sponsored by Kagawa prefecture, one of the main sponsors of the Setouchi International Art Festival held last year. I will be working at the same site where I made the permanent installation work “A House of Language/土と共に” in 2010 as well as creating new video and works on paper. Please download the residency brochure HERE for more info on the details of this residency project.

Cycles of Memory Exhibit

I am developing a new project for Hokkaido that has been coordinated by the organizers of the exhibition Cycles of Memory (see flyer above). This project deals with the layers of earth and human consciousness, exposing the beauty of what lies beneath us. For this project soil will be drawn from a historical site in Hokkaido and redistributed on a mound near the exhibition venue in Tarumae. This movement of soil brings human daily labor into direct contact with the layers of soil that lie deep inside the earth, changing the color of a public site and exposing the history of a volcanic site. This project is tentatively titled Storied Landscape as people’s stories will be an integral part of the installation process, and the landscape itself will reveal people’s stories of the region and its history. I will hold workshops with the local community on July 20 and July 23rd and a public lecture is scheduled for July 24th at the Tomakomai Museum.

Living in Story

Living_in_Story_Flier_April_jpgI am organizing a visit by socially engaged artist Toshiaki Tomita at the end of this month on O‘ahu. He will be collaborating with local groups, schools and individuals during his stay in Honolulu to make new artworks that will be part of his latest magazine project titled “Living in Story.” We are planning for a number of walks including a night stick walk done with candles, drawing on plates that will be used in a performance with food and sharing family photo albums with discussion of the tragedies in Tohoku. He is being graciously hosted by the Intersections Visiting Artist program at the University of Hawai‘i and will be in Honolulu for the last week of April before going to big island for the first week of May. He will give a public lecture on Thursday, April 28th at the UH Mānoa Art Building Room 101 from 12 noon to 1pm. Please come by or contact me if you would like to get involved in this creative project!