I am a British, London-Tokyo based curator, academic, and writer.
Currently focused on research for PhD.
Curating and contextualising artistic practice through research, exhibitions and publishing working with emerging and mid-career artists with a recent focus on contemporary art from Japan.
Recipient The Cultural Leadership Programme. A UK Government award for excellence in leadership to emerging to established world-class, dynamic and diverse leaders for the 21st Century.
Formally responsible for film, video and new media projects at Film and Video Umbrella, the UK’s leading agency in commissioning, curating and producing artists’ moving-image works in collaboration with galleries and cultural agencies.
Programme Director and International Curator, AIR programmes including ARCUS Project and Beppu Project, Japan.
International Projects and Research Fellow at Central Saint Martins, UAL and The Japan Foundation. Research focused on modern & contemporary Japanese art, it’s aesthetic, cultural and political histories and processes that shape its production.
The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) overseeing the institutes Media Art Festival and programme of new media exhibitions, films, events, talks and debates. Researcher ZKM | Institute for Visual Media, Karlsruhe, Germany.
Sutupa Biswas, Mata Ne, (See youSoon), Fujiya Gallery, Japan, 2015
Currently the subject of two major solo shows that span the artist’s extensive career at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge. Sutapa Biswas is a British Indian conceptual artist, who works across a range of media including painting, drawing, film and time-based media. A vital contributor to the Black Arts Movement in Britain and to shifting understanding of post-war British art. Biswas’ works visually disrupt, challenge and reimagine our present time. Visual theorist Griselda Pollock said that it was Biswas who ‘forced us all to acknowledge the Eurocentric limits of the discourses within which we practise’.
Commissioned in 2015 Mata Ne, (See you Soon), and produced during an international residency in Japan. The project is inspired by the oral histories of women of Beppu, who recount important moments in their lives. A method of recovering neglected histories, through a methodology exploring autobiographical practice centred on the subjectivity of the narrator. Oral histories focused on women’s experiences that demand revision of the historical.
From these oral history’s, Biswas aims to decenter patriarchal national narratives in Japan, through collaborations that make space for women’s narratives – their voices, experiences, and stories.
Curated by Keith Whittle and commissioned and co-produced by Beppu Project. Funded by Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan. Special thanks to Jun’ya Yamaida, Rina Nakano, Moemi Nagi, Akio Tokunaga, Takashi Serizawa and Beppu Project.
Mari Katayama, Broken Heart, White Rainbow Gallery, London, 2019
A solo exhibition of photography and sculpture at White Rainbow by Japanese artist Mari Katayama. The artist’s first UK solo show.
In her arresting and visceral work, Katayama’s body features prominently, surrounded by intricately arranged objects, in intimate settings or set against vast landscapes. Born with various physical developmental challenges, Katayama had both legs amputated at age nine and has since lived with prosthetics.
Using her body as a living sculpture, she photographs herself among intricately embroidered, hand-sewn objects and her prosthetic legs. Investigating issues of beauty, frailty, sensuality, femininity, vulnerability and characterisation of her physicality as less-able bodied. Katayama’s artistic practice is shaped by her direct experiences of her condition and societies obsession and anxieties about bodily appearance. Her striking work does not solely focus on disability itself, or the representation of the female body, but rather embodies the challenges brought about by her condition and wider perception of disability, in relations between the self and others.
Curated by Keith Whittle. Special thanks Rin Art Association and The Japan Foundation
Catalogue essay for Yumiko Ono publication Utopian Figures, 2021
Yumiko Ono is a New York and Kyoto-based Japanese contemporary artist.
Yumiko Ono’s prime mediums are drawing and slip cast porcelain, and she focuses on surface nature in both practices. By using these methods, Ono attempts to create content with superficial elements, to express the fragility and fictionality of modernity.
She is the recipient of solo shows at national galleries such as Epitomes, MoCA Taipei (Taiwan); Organic Matter, Diem Phung Thi Museum (Vietnam). Group exhibitions include Domani, The National Art Center in Tokyo.
Fan Chon Hoo, Into the World of Palpable Objects and Fruitful Delight, 11 Spitalfields, London, 2011
Into the World of Palpable Objects and Fruitful Delight is Malaysian artist Fan Chon Hoo’s first solo exhibition in London.
Shortlisted for the Saatchi Gallery and Channel 4’s New Sensations 2010, Fan Chon Hoo is an artist with a uniquely compelling visual language. By assuming the role of a modern-day amateur antiquarian and anthropologist, one informed by earlier figures of 18th and 19th-century travellers and amateur naturalists, Hoo explores the role that cultural artefacts have as residues and deposits of the process of cultural translation.
Amongst these cultural artefacts, the Willow Pattern chinaware and the Victorian copper jelly mould underline for Hoo the notion of cultural translation. In works such as the Blue and White Collection a series of paper earthenware works created in response to the Willow Pattern invented by English craftsmen in the late eighteenth century and embellished with imaginary landscapes made up of oriental architectural structures, exoticised follies from ornamental gardens found within the UK, Hoo playfully explores how a foreign culture can be appropriated and translated then subconsciously tucked into the local culture.
The exhibition is an encounter with Fan Chon Hoo’s prodigious talent for creating accomplished and thoughtful works that evoke and echo the authentic, and through his idiosyncratic experimentations, question the positing of origin through his subtle and irreverent exploration of artifice.
Curated by Keith Whittle. Special thanks to Trevor Hampton and No. 11 Spitalfields.
Adam Chodzko, Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, Fujiya Gallery, Japan, 2015
Adam Chodzko is an artist – exhibiting work nationally and internationally since 1991 – whose multidisciplinary practice explores the interactions and possibilities of human behaviour. His artworks include video, installation, photography, socially engaged practices, drawing and performance. Bringing together fragments from diverse fields of knowledge to make work that sits between documentary and fiction, his artworks are propositions driven by the question; if this is our current reality what really should happen to us next? Chodzko’s exhibitions range from a solo survey show at Tate St Ives to installations at Tate Britain. He has had work in the Venice and Istanbul Biennials, and his commissioners include Frieze Art Fair and Hayward Gallery.
Produced during a residency in Kyushu, Japan the works presented in the installation; Rupture; Expulsion from the Garden of Eden; Somewhere Else; Our Host Postponed the Drinks Until After the Storm and Here., connect Chodzko’s ongoing investigations into how a community connects with its sense of its self, place and past. What might be revealed or hidden within these encounters, examining them through the parallel relationships between gallery, audience, neighbour, art object and ‘foreign’ artist? His work at Fujiya Gallery, Beppu, develops a series of mythologies to investigate these connections using a mixture of documentary ‘truth’ and a form of science fiction to communicate a psychological surrealism.
Curated by Keith Whittle and commissioned and co-produced by Beppu Project. Funded by Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan. Special thanks to Jun’ya Yamaida, Rina Nakano, Moemi Nagi, Akio Tokunaga, Takashi Serizawa and Beppu Project.
China Now, There Is No ‘I’ In Team, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, 2008
A unique opportunity to see the work of an extraordinary and vibrant new generation of Chinese artists from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau working in moving image, sound and installation art, arguably the most prolific and strongest type of work being created in China at the time.
The exhibiting artists offer a speculative commentary on changes in China. Reflecting on the substantial differences in individualist and collectivist cultural orientations, and exploring complex regional contexts and conditions, history, tradition and modernity, derived from their personal experiences, while critically reflecting on and simultaneously traversing their world of China now.
Curated by Keith Whittle and Keri Elmsly – UK & Pauline Doutreluingne and Jiang Jian – China. Exhibited at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, and sound and moving image work across Newcastle city-wide locations, and touring to V&A, South Kensington, London and Program EV Berlin.
Part of CHINA NOW the largest festival of Chinese culture ever in the UK, and EAST’08, a world-class celebration of contemporary Asian culture in Newcastle-Gateshead. Funded by Culture 10 and British Council China and produced in partnership with CHINA NOW, ISIS Arts, Newcastle.
Laure Prouvost, Questions Will Be Asked, Sallaumines | Maison de l’Art et de la Communication, 2016
Language – in its broadest sense – permeates the video, sound, installation and performance work of Turner Prize winner Laure Prouvost.
Known for her immersive and mixed-media installations that combine film and installation in humorous and idiosyncratic ways, Turner Prize winner Prouvost’s work addresses miscommunication and ideas becoming lost in translation. Playing with language as a tool for the imagination, Prouvost is interested in confounding linear narratives and expected associations among words, images and meaning. She combines existing and imagined personal memories with artistic and literary references to create complex film installations that muddy the distinction between fiction and reality.
At once seductive and jarring, her approach to filmmaking employs layered storytelling, quick edits, montage and wordplay and is composed of a rich, tactile assortment of images, sounds, spoken and written phrases. The videos are often shown within immersive environments which comprise found objects, sculptures, painting and drawings, signs, furniture and architectural assemblages, that are rendered complicit within the overarching narrative of the installation.
Curated by Keith Whittle and Margherita Gramegna.
Michael Lin, Beppu 04.11-06.14.09, 2nd floor of Kansai Kisen Terminal Pier 3, Japan, 2010
Michael Lin is an artist living and working in Taipei, Shanghai, and Brussels.
Lin turns away from painting as an object of contemplation toward one of painting as a bounded, physical space, one we can settle into and inhabit (Vivian Rehberg). Lin orchestrates monumental painting installations that re-conceptualize and reconfigure public spaces. Using patterns and designs appropriated from traditional Taiwanese textiles his works have been exhibited in major institutions and international Biennials around the world including The Auckland Triennial and the California Pacific Triennial 2013, Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Manila 2016, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne 2017, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei 2019 and most recently in 2020 at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto and Jumex Museum, Mexico City.
Transforming the institutional architecture of the public museum, his unconventional paintings invite visitors to reconsider their usual perception of those spaces, and to become an integral part of the work, giving meaning to its potential as an area for interaction, encounter, and re-creation.
Commissioned as part of “Mixed Bathing World” Beppu International Art Triennale 2009, Japan. Special thanks to Takashi Serizawa, P3 art and environment, Jun’ya Yamaide, CEO Beppu Project the commissioned artist and the Beppu project team.
Conversation with Jonathan Watkins who has led Ikon for over 20 years, joining the gallery in 1999.
Previously he worked for a number of years in London, as Curator of the Serpentine Gallery (1995-1997) and Director of Chisenhale Gallery (1990-1995).
He has curated a number of large international exhibitions including the Biennale of Sydney (1998), Facts of Life: Contemporary Japanese Art (Hayward Gallery, London 2001), Quotidiana (Castello di Rivoli, Turin 1999, Tate Triennial (2003), Shanghai Biennale (2006), Sharjah Biennial (2007), Negotiations (Today Art Museum, Beijing 2010) and the Guangzhou Triennial (2012).
He was on the curatorial team for Europarte (Venice Biennale, 1997), Milano Europa 2000, (Palazzo di Triennale, Milan 2000), and Riwaq (Palestinian Biennial 2007). He curated the Iraqi Pavilion for the Venice Biennale in 2013 and Floating World, Bahrain in 2017. In 2019 Watkins was the curator of Small Between the Stars, Large Against the Sky, the 9th Manif d’art Quebec City Biennial.
Jonathan Watkins has written extensively on contemporary art. Essays have focused on the work of Giuseppe Penone, Martin Creed, Semyon Faibisovich, Yang Zhenzhong, Noguchi Rika, Oliver Beer, Beat Streuli and Cornelia Parker. He was the author of the Phaidon monograph on Japanese artist On Kawara.
Conversation with Mami Kataoka who was appointed director of Mori Art Museum in 2020.
She was formally Chief Curator at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery (1997-2002) and Mori Art Museum (2003-2020).
International Curator at the Hayward Gallery, London (2007-2009); Co-Artistic Director for the 9th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2012); Artistic Director of the 21st Biennale of Sydney (2018); and Artistic Director of the Aichi Triennale 2022. She has been serving as a Board Member of CIMAM International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art and is currently the President of CIMAM 2020-2022.
Her other roles include Chair of Contemporary Art Committee Japan, Art Platform Japan [Initiative by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan]; Councilor of Tokyo Council for the Arts [Initiative by Tokyo Metropolis, Japan]; and Member of AICA [International Association of Art Critics]. Visiting Professor at Kyoto University of the Arts Graduate School; Visiting Professor at Tokyo University of the Arts (Faculty of Fine Arts, Graduate School of Fine Arts).
Kataoka frequently writes, lectures, and juries on contemporary art from Japan, Asia and beyond.
One Place After Another: What can periodical International Contemporary Art Projects actually share?
Exploring the proliferation of large-scale international recurrent exhibitions of contemporary art across the globe. This talk by Keith Whittle at The Japan Foundation took place within the same year that in the UK, saw the presentation of the Liverpool Biennial, third Folkestone Triennial, and in Japan the fifth Yokohama Triennial and inaugural Sapporo International Art Festival.
He was joined by internationally recognised curators, Yuko Hasegawa and Lewis Biggs, both responsible for curating a number of major exhibitions, including in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates and Aichi, Japan respectively, and Koki Tanaka representative artist, Japan Pavilion, 55th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale and Mark Rappolt, Editor, Art Review.
The talk and discussion explored amongst other questions if these art projects and international exhibitions can expand and democratise access to culture, for a diversified public, creating a meaningful cultural social space for a general public and tourist majority generally less directly engaged with Art?
Talk organised in partnership with and staged at Japan Foundation, London, 2015
Satoru Aoyama exhibition Division of Labour, White Rainbow Gallery, London, 2016
Division of Labour, was a solo exhibition at White Rainbow by Satoru Aoyama (b. 1973). The focus of the exhibition was a new series of work: ‘Map of the World (Dedicated to unknown embroiderers)’ (2012-). The works reference the Afghan craftswomen who assisted in the making of Alighiero Boetti’s ‘Mappa’ series (1971-1989)
For his new series, Aoyama has embroidered four world maps, along with a map of Europe. Reflecting the passage of time since Boetti’s works, new countries such as Ukraine and Serbia are now visible on the contemporary world map. Aoyama’s maps are embroidered using a fluorescent thread. In daylight, they reveal little detail, but when shown in a darkened space each country and border is revealed. With this theatrical presentation, the artist offers a suggestion of the often immaterial and intangible quality of borders and the geopolitics that underpin them.
Where Boetti hired craftswomen to implement the technique necessary to realise his ideas, Aoyama undertakes the skilled labour himself on an old Singer sewing machine, in order to reflect on the notion of the individual craftsman in an age of outsourcing and mechanised labour.
Exhibition organised and curated by White Rainbow.
A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Travelling, NGCA, UK and BankART NYK, Japan, 2008
A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Travelling was the result of concurrent exchange residencies of two artists between the UK and Japan.
UK based artist Erika Tan’s commissioned works were presented under the collective heading ‘Made in Japan’. The Syntactical Impossibility of Approaching with a Pure Heart. A meditation on apriori knowledge, the encounters with the unexpected and the inevitable impossibilities of reconciling representation, experience and expectation. Mount Fuji or Fuji-san comes to play a central role in this work, and the title refers in parts to the mythological tale of the fate of the faithless or unworthy pilgrims.
The work exhibited consists of 13 video works, several hundred donated drawn images, compiled or composite Mount Fuji’s, and other elements such as topological type puzzles, sculptural objects, digital prints, viewing mechanisms and LED signs.
Exhibition organised and co-curated by Keith Whittle and Alistair Robinson. Part of the British Councils UK-Japan 2008 & Japan 150 festivals marking the anniversary of trade and cultural links between the UK & Japan.
Mirrored Lenses: A brief history of Japanese Video and Media Art, Cornerhouse, Manchester, 2008
Programmed to coincide with The Conquest of Imperfection, the first major UK exhibition of Japanese media artist Masaki Fujihata’s acclaimed interactive work. This talk explores Japanese moving image and media art and the embrace and manipulation of technology across varying generations of Japanese artists.
With references ranging from the 1960s to today, the talk highlighted the work of key practitioners such as Shigeko Kubota and those artists whose work across performance, sculpture, and moving image conflates the physical world and its life on screen through new media and video installation.
Special thanks to Kathy Rae Huffman
Lu Chunsheng and Jia Aili: Counterpoints, Iniva, London, 2010
A two-person show at the Institute of International Visual Art (Iniva) London of work by two contemporary Chinese artists, Lu Chunsheng (China Power Station: Battersea, London 2006), and Jia Aili.
Lu Chunsheng’s film, The first man who bought a juicer bought it not for drinking juice, receiving its European premier and Jia Aili his first solo exhibition in Europe; a series of new paintings and an installation specially created for the show. A site-specific piece inspired by 16th-century painter Caravaggio’s famous painting The Incredulity of Saint Thomas c. 1601–1602.
Presented in partnership with David Thorp, Iniva and Platform China Contemporary Art Institute, Beijing. Chunsheng’s work subsequently toured to Newcastle as part of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, a programme of international artists moving image.
Special thanks to David Thorp, Lorenz Helbling, ShanghART Gallery and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Serpentine Galleries, London and CIRCA Projects, Newcastle.
Post 3.11 – What Can Art Do? – Case 1: Artist talk with Ichiro Endo, 2012, London
Post 3.11 is a series of talks that aim to examine how the role of the artist and art activities post-earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region of Japan. For the first session, The Japan Foundation invited Ichiro Endo, a painter and performer who has exhibited at venues including Art Tower Mito and BACC Bangkok and the Beppu Contemporary Art Festival.
Endo was joined by Kaori Homma, Art Action UK and Keith Whittle, curator and Japan Foundation Fellow, who introduced several artist projects initiated in response to the disaster. Including artists and artist groups Chim↑Pom, Shiga Lieko and Kato Tsubasa working in or near the regions affected and with its communities, and touching upon the contradictions and conflicts that exist in the context of Japanese modernisation and industrialisation, and post-war diplomatic policy, in the particular Japan-US relations under the Cold War structure, and the prioritising the economy and efficiency during the period of high economic growth.
The talk explored the artist’s role and impact of art activities that respond to unprecedented situations, social and political issues, or take an exclusively political position in response to issues thrown up by the events in 2011, posing the question ‘What is the power of art and what can it do?’.
Talk organised by The Japan Foundation
Conversation with Takashi Serizawa, director P3 art and environment since 1989.
Takashi Serizawa is an artistic director, writer, collaborator and founder of P3 art and environment, an arts organisation and curatorial office in Tokyo.
Commissioned in the late 80s to build a new temple for Tochoji Zen Temple in Yotsuya, Tokyo, commemorating its 400th anniversary, Serizawa designed an auditorium in the basement of the temple and devised a plan to expand the temples activities and explore cultural projects, mainly in the area of contemporary art. Subsequently, he established the influential P3 Alternative Museum Tokyo. Its inaugural exhibition Synergetic Circus – Buckminster Fuller’s Sea of Intuition (1989), explored the ideas of the American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, and futurist.
Other notable exhibitions include Ingo Gunther’s Wordprocessor (1990); Cai Guo-Qiang’s, Primeval Fireball: Project for Projects (1991); Seiko Mikami’s Pulse Beats (1990); and Sarajevo Survival Guide by Famal (1994); Obihiro Demeter Biennial; Asahi Art Festival and Mixed Bathing World, Beppu, among others.
Film Without Film: SHIMURAbros in conversation with Keith Whittle, 2016.
SHIMURAbros is a brother-sister duo consisting of Yuka Shimura and brother Kentaro Shimura. Researchers at Studio Olafur Eliasson and incorporating elements of sculpture, installation and avant-garde filmmaking techniques in their work. Their practice explores the history of moving image approached from a fundamentally different perspective. One that extends film beyond its two-dimensional limits through intricate installations and playful re-working of cinematic language.
The talk highlights SHIMURAbros film and moving image installations, focusing on the formalistic qualities and contexts at play. Followed by a discussion with Keith Whittle, exploring the role technology and cinematic history has on the aesthetic and conceptual approach the artists’ have to their work in terms of research and exhibition.
Curated by Keith Whittle and staged in partnership with The Japan Foundation and Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, home to the British Artists’ Film & Video Study Collection.
Conversation with Yuko Hasegawa, Director of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
Yuko Hasegawa is the Director of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa.
Her previous positions include Artistic Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (MOT), Chief Curator and Founding Artistic Director of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa from 1999 to 2006. Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo from 2006 to 2016. Hasegawa was a board member of Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District Authority from 2009 to 2011, and has remained a member of the Asian Art Council at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York since 2008. She is also a member of the Istanbul Biennale Advisory Board.
She is known for her work in various biennales including the 7th Moscow Biennale (Curator, 2017), 11th Sharjah Biennale (Curator, 2013), 12th Venice Biennale of Architecture (Artistic Advisor, 2010), the 29th Sao Paulo Biennale (Co-Curator, 2010), the 4th Seoul International Media Art Biennale (Co-Curator, 2006), and the 7th Istanbul Biennial (Curator, 2001). Her curated exhibitions include; Fukami: A Plunge into Japanese aesthetics at Hotel Salmon de Rothschild, Paris (2018), Japanorama: New Vision on Art Since 1970 at Centre Pompidou-Metz (2017), and Kishio Suga: Situations at Pirelli Hangar Bicocca, Milan (2016). She is also the artistic director of the Inujima Art House Project.
Her recent publications include “A New Ecology and Art: on the Clouds⇄Forests exhibition” (Journal of Global Arts Studies and Curatorial Practices vol. 1, Tokyo University of the Arts, 2020); “Grotesque and cruel imagery in Japanese gender expression: Nobuyoshi Araki, Makoto Aida and Fuyuko Matsui” (The Persistence of Taste: Art, Museums and Everyday Life After Bourdieu, Routledge, 2018); “Japanorama: Un Archipel en Perpétuel Changement” (Japanorama, Centre Pompidou-Metz Editions, 2017); and “Performativity in the Work of Female Japanese Artists in the 1950s–1960s and the 1990s” (Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA, 2010).
Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions: Matter and Light Liliane Lijn talk at V&A South Kensington, 2015.
Presented in partnership with the V&A South Kensington, Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions: Matter and Light is a series of artist talks exploring light and matter.
In the first of the series, Liliane Lijn discussed the ideas and methodology behind her work. Lijn was born in New York and studied archaeology at the Sorbonne and Art History at the Ecole du Louvre, Paris (1958). Living in New York between 1961 and 1963, experimenting with fire and acids and working with light, poetry, movement and liquids, she rapidly established herself as a leading kinetic artist through many international exhibitions.
In 1966 she moved to London. She has featured in numerous group exhibitions in Britain, Europe and Japan, and is represented in important public and private collections in Britain, France, Australia and the United States. In 2005, she was ACE, NASA artist in residence at the Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley and later Narec: New and Renewable Energy Centre Northumberland UK.
Liliane Lijn’s work covers a large spectrum of interests, from Light and its interaction with diverse new materials to the development of a fresh image for the feminine. Lijn has taken inspiration from incidental details both man-made and natural, mythology and poetry, science and technology. Lijn is interested in the development of language, collaborating across disciplines and making art that is interactive, in which the viewer can actively participate.
Curated by Keith Whittle with special thanks to the artist and Irini Mirena Papadimitriou, and the team at V&A.