Weekly conversations with…Yoshinori Niwa

Born in 1982 in the Aichi Prefecture in Japan. Niwa graduated Tama Art University’s Department of Moving Images and Performing Arts in 2005. Since 2016, he lives and works in Vienna, Austria.

You’ve recently moved into the new studio in Untere Augartenstrasse 5, 1020 Vienna. How do you like your working space at studio das weisse haus? Why did you decide to share it with Ryts Monet and Yuji Oshima?
I’ve just carried my stuff into the studio a couple days ago. We still need to clean the space. I really like this high ceiling and kitchen space with big shelves on the ground floor. While I was there, somme random passer-by came into the studio and asked me what’s happening here, so I feel more connecting with people and the outside. It seems like the atelier itself is socializing with other people, which is really nice. For me, the location and atelier size is perfect.

Actually I was already sharing a smaller studio in 15th district with Yuji before. But we had to move out by the end of March because of the renovation of the building. At the same time, I was talking with Ryts Monet about working closer and sharing a studio. We work independently in slightly different field, but we help each other and we thought about collaborating in the near future. I am excited to share this space with other artists, and hope for some new beginnings.

Could you tell us something about your work and your upcoming projects?
I have been working in between performance and documentary video practice. My strategy is to insert the moment of performative events into the theatre of everyday life and create a video recording all the process of the performance objectively in order to question the relationship larger society and individual conditions. I work all bear self-explanatory, slogan­-style titles, they are literally executed primarily on the street and in public spaces. My actions are instructed by the titles, such as “travelling with a trash bag”, “moving a puddle to another”, and “keep exchanging money”. These actions regulated by the title slowly make a crack in the society, which expose mechanism of the civil society.

The recent large-scale project was “Withdrawing Adolf Hitler from a Private Space, 2018” commissioned by steirischer herbst ’18 in Graz. This work was based on a research of legal situation of privacy and the prohibition of public display of NS symbols in Austria. Therefore, I put several advertising in major newspapers to offer disposal of any unwanted memorabilia from fascist era, which still remains at home. In a public campaign, people could get rid of these object by dumping them into the container. But people will never know what was dumped, the point is to activate imagination to confront with the past.

I have several projects in Japan, Austria and other countries this year. In Japan, I am currently preparing a couple of neon-tube works and large-scale installation that are criticizing or play around/with capitalism for my solo show in April, which is commissioned by a department store in Tokyo. And, I am preparing another solo show in Tokyo this summer as well, where I am planning to show a video about the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and human desire and expectation. Moreover, I have another video project that is focusing on the reality of regional towns, agriculture and anarchism in October.

On other hand, in Austria, I will participate in a group show “JAPAN UNLIMITED” in late September, in occasion of celebration of 150 years diplomatic relationship between Japan and Austria. For this exhibition, I am preparing a couple of intervention projects. And of course, the solo show at das weisse haus in November/December, that would be my first solo show in Austria.


Interviewer: Teresa Wally