ShanghART Gallery 香格纳画廊
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b. 1983, works and lives in Singapore
Archival pigment print mounted on aluminium, framed
Edition of 6 + 1AP

Japan is one of the only nations left in the world that actively kills whales. The politics of whaling has been a scar on how Japan is perceived internationally. This project does not look at the ethnics involve in the killing of whales but seeks to look at how this specific phenomenon became a self-perpetuating myth on Japan as a savage and stubborn nation through mediation. During an artist residency at Fukuoka Asian Art Museum by the ICZ and TLA, it was discovered that whaling as a form of culture is not an ignorable (or even fictional) idea as much as the media claims it to be.

At one moment, over 6,000 people, whole sea-side communities that depended on whaling, have to cease their way of life because of international political pressure. What remains are bizarre and huge spectacles serving as memento moris of a threatened way of life. As many as 20 old whaling villages exist today. These villages have buildings and sculptures in the shape of whales and Japan’s historical connection with the sea can be seen within this towns.

Images of these villages are shown in this exhibition with a new narrative: these villagers are whale fanatics, obsessed with these creatures and plastering them in architecture and art, rather then monstrous murderers. The ambiguity of these images suggests that any form of mediation will always be biased and causes us to misread cultural behaviors when observed through a foreign lens.


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