June 16 – 30, 2018
Mami Takahashi is a multidisciplinary artist from Tokyo. Using photography, performance, installation, and urban intervention, her practice explores the complexities of being Asian and a woman living outside of her home country. The photographic works from the early development of the ongoing project, “Seeing you/Seeing Me”, were on exhibit at the Center for Contemporary Art and Culture, Portland, Oregon in an exhibition entitled The Unknown Artist, curated by former Venice Biannual curator Lucy Cotter.
Previous exhibitions and performances have taken place at Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Portland, OR; San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco; DANK Haus, Chicago, IL; The International Museum of Art, El Paso, TX; Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Alberta, Canada; Gwangju Folk Art Museum, Gwangju, Korea; Instituto Municipal del Arte la Cultura, DG Mexico and Toriizaka Art Gallery, Tokyo, among other venues. She holds an MFA from Portland State University and a BFA from Joshibi University of Art and Design, Kanagawa. Takahashi is a recipient of the Ford Family Award for MASS MoCA residency and the Pacific Northwest College of Art+Leland Iron Work residency.
Using photography, performance, installation and urban intervention, my practice explores the complexities of being Japanese and a woman struggling for US citizenship. Being a non-native English speaker, my visual practice incorporates my awkward experience in this new culture; there is an on-going struggle with the complex meaning of being “American” and “foreigner” with the millions of immigrants that came before.
In 2014, I started the project, “Seeing You/Seeing Me”, to camouflage my physicality behind a small mirrored dome during intentionally awkward interactions with strangers on the street. The accompanying video work documented responses from both sides of this unusual situation and pried those interrelationships open. This project addressed the paradoxical sense of invisibility and hyper-visibility of my experience as a foreign woman living in the US. For the next phase of this project, I’ll expand this dome to amplify the shared experiences of other immigrant women.
Our struggles as immigrants, though individual and varying, share a winding path of fear. Some similar fears are shared regardless of the story: social fear related to the fragility of status, fear of differences in culture and accents, fear of missing out on “common knowledge,” and fear of a limited US support system. As a nation historically struggling with the complex history of its diversity, the US offers a unique perspective on the relationship between its citizens and an increasing immigrant population. I am currently expanding my practice to incorporate more specific discourses around politics and society, past and present.