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Bow to Bow

HD video, colour, sound, 11:43 min
Edition 5 + 2 a.p.

Born in Kobe, Japan

Graduated from Osaka College of Art, Osaka

Graduated from San Francisco Art Institute (B.A.)

ARCUS Project, Artist-in-residence program (4 months), Japan, with a grant from the Japan Foundation

Ateliers d‘Artistes de la Ville de Marseille (2 months), with a grant from the French Government

Capacete Project, Rio de Janeiro, with a grant from the Pola Art Foundation

Banff Center, Canada, with a grant from Shiseido

Invited to Berlin by DAAD Berliner Kunstlerprogramm

Guest Professor at Braunschweig School of Art, Germany Resides in Berlin

Artist Books

Shimabuku. "Moto," 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa 2014

Shimabuku. "Opening the Door," Little More, Tokyo 2010

Shimabuku. "Cucumber Journey," Shogakukan, Tokyo 2004

Shimabuku. "Swansea Jack Memorial Dog Swimming Competition," Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea, U.K., 2003

Shimabuku. "SHIMABUKU 2001," Kobe Art Village Center, Kobe, Japan, 2001

Shimabuku. "In Search of Deer," Self-publishing, 2000

Shimabuku. "With Birds at Dawn," On Sundays, Tokyo, 1999

Maestro, Lani., Shimabuku. "I‘m traveling with a 165-metre mermaid/Je voyage avec une sirene de 165 metres," Dazibao, Montreal, 1999

Selected Solo Exhibitions
"Pour les pieuvres, les singes et les Hommes", Centre d‘art contemporain d‘Ivry - le Crédac, Ivry-sur-Seine, France
"Eyes On: Shimabuku", Denver Art Museum, USA
"Bow to Bow", Amanda Wilkinson Gallery, London, U.K.

"Bow to Bow", Galerie Barbara Wien, Berlin, Germany

"Cuban Samba", Nogueras Blanchard, Madrid, Spain
"The Snow Monkeys of Texas", Freedman Fritzpatrick, Los Angeles, USA

"Exchange a Mobile Phone for a Stone Tool", Wilkinson Gallery, London, U.K.

"When Sky Was Sea", CAG Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada
"Sea and Flowers", Galerie Barbara Wien, Berlin, Germany
“City in the Sea”, Air de Paris, Paris, France
"Flying Me", Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland

"Something that Floats / Something that Sinks," Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, U.K.
"Noto," 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan

"Leaves Swim," Nogueras Blanchard, Barcelona

"Shimabuku," Overbeck Gesellschaft Kunstverein Lübeck, Lübeck
"Man should try to avoid contact with alien life forms," Le Centre international d‘art et du paysage de l‘ile de Vassiviére, France (cat.)
"On the water," CAPC musee d‘art contemporain de Bordeaux, France
"My Teacher Tortoise," Wilkinson Gallery, London

"Kaki and Tomato," Air de Paris, Paris

"New Works," Watari-Um, The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan
"Sea, Sky, Language and so on," DAAD galerie, Berlin, Germany
"Shimabuku‘s Fish & Chips," Nogueras Blanchard, Barcelona, Spain
"Shimabuku‘s Fish & Chips," Wilkinson Gallery, London, UK
"The Story So Far 2," Shugoarts, Tokyo, Japan
"Shimabuku‘s Fish & Chips," DAAD galerie, Berlin, Germany

"From high in the sky to the bottom of the sea," Nogueras Blanchard, Barcelona, Spain
"Catching octopus with self-made ceramic pots," Air de Paris, Paris, France

"Born as a Box," Wilkinson Gallery, London, UK
"Yoyo on the Moon (Film and Video Screening with Kidlat Tahimic)," Maejima Art Center / Yume-R, Okinawa, Japan

"Swansea Jack Memorial Dog Swimming Competition," Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea, U.K. (artist book)
"Watching the River Flow," Shugoarts, Tokyo, Japan
"Frog‘s Sky," Galerie der Stadt Schwaz, Schwaz, Austria
"Then, I decided to give a tour of Tokyo to the octopus from Akashi." Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, U.K.
"Then, I decided to give a tour of Tokyo to the octopus from Akashi." Gallery Yvon Lambert, Paris, France

"Passing through the rubber band," Air de Paris, Paris, France
"The Octopus Returns," Kobe Art Village Center / Suma Rikyu Park, Kobe, Japan (artist book)

"I‘m traveling with 165-metre mermaid," DAZIBAO, Montreal (artist book), Canada
"Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere," Air de Paris, Paris, France

"In Search of Deer," Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo (artist book), Japan

"Shimabukuro-Shimafukurou," Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo, Japan

"America," Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Hiroshima, Japan

"KONNICHIWA," Nagoya City Art Museum, Nagoya, Japan (leaflet)

Selected Group Exhibitions

"Amuse-bouche. The Taste of Art" Museum Tinguely, Basel, Switzerland (February)

"Sensing Nature from Within", Moderna Museet Malmö, Sweden
“Creatures: When Species Meet”, CAC - Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati, USA
“The Sorcerer’s Burden: Contemporary Art and the Anthropological Turn”, The Contemporary Austin, USA
"The Long Now", MaerzMusik, Kraftwerk Berlin, Germany
“Kokomo No Kuni - Replay “, FRAC Grand Large - Hauts de France, Dunkerque, France
"Small Between the Stars, Large Against the Sky”, Manic d’art 9 - Québec City Biennial 2019, Canada
“Texture of Life”, Reborn Art Festival, Ishinomaki, Japan (artist & curator)

"Take Off", Maison Rouge, Paris, France
"der grosse Anspruch des kleinen Bildes", Galerie Barbara Wien, Berlin, Germany
"ALLE. Künstlerinnen und Künstler in der Overbeck-Gesellschaft 1918–2018", Overbeck-Gesellschaft, Kunstverein Lübeck, Germany
"In Tune with the World. New selection from our Collection", Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, France
"Animals & Us", Turner Contemporary, Margate, Kent, UK
"Kodomo No Kuni", L‘Onde, Vélizy-Villacoublay, France
"Aquaria", daadgalerie, Berlin, Germany

"While I was also listening to Simon, Zin, Virginie, etc.”, La Criée - centre d’art contemporain, Rennes, France
"Japanorama. A new vision on art since 1970", Centre Pompidou-Metz, France
"Le château des destins croisés", 11 Columbia, Monaco.
"The Show Must Go On", Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland
"Floating worlds", 14th La Biennale de Lyon, France
"Reborn-Art Festival", Ishinomaki, Miyagi, Japan
"Offshore: artist explore the sea", Ferns Art Gallery & Hull Maritime Museum, Kingston upon Hull, UK
"Cinema", Kunsthalle Lingen, Lingen, Germany
"Viva Arte Viva", 57th International Art Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy
"Futures", CAC: Contemporary Art Center Lithuania, Vilnius
"While I was also listening to David, Eleanor, Mariana, etc", La Criée - centre d‘art contemporain, Rennes, France
"Horizon: Against Nature", OED Gallery, Kochi, India
"AQUA", Ile Rousseau, and Chateau de Penthes, Geneva, Switzerland

"The Animal Mirror", ISCP, New York, USA
"Ecce Homo", The National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan
"FOOD-Ecologies of the everyday", 13th Triennial of Small-Scale Sculpture Fellbach, Germany
"Development" Okayama Art Summit (curated by Liam Gillick), Okayama City, Japan

"Echo of Untouched Range", Lothringer13 Halle, Munich, Germany
"Take me to the river, Dojima River Biennale 2015, Osaka, Japan
"Äppärät", The Ballroom Marfa, Texas, U.S.A
"Contemporary Still-Lives”, Antinori Art Project, Firenze, Italy
"#catcontent", Kunstpalais, Erlangen, Germany
"A Climate Fictionalism", Hong-Gah Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
"Mountains with a Broken Edge", 12th Havana Biennial, Havana, Cuba
"The Way Things Go", Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, USA

"Supple Expansions", Freedman Fitzpatrick, Los Angeles, USA
“A History”, Pompidou Centre, Paris, France
Sapporo International Art Festival 2014, Japan
Taipei Biennial 2014, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan
“City and Nature” Sapporo International Art Festival 2014, Sapporo, Japan
“Manners of Matter” Saltzburger Kunstverein, Salzburg, Austria
“Underwater Worlds “, Museum Kunst der Westküste, Föhr, Germany

"Aquatopia," Tate St. Ives, St. Ives, U.K.
"Aquatopia," Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, U.K.
"Le Pont," Musee d‘art contemporain, Marseille, France
"Re:emerge," Sharjah Biennial 11, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
"how to write 1" Wien Lukatsch, Berlin, Germany

"Mount Fuji does not exist," Plateau / Frac Ile-de-France, Paris, France

"Impossible Community," Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow (cat.), Russia
"Our Magic Hour," Yokohama Triennale 2011: International Triennale of Contemporary Art, Yokohama (cat.), Japan
"Somewhere Else," Nogueras Blanchard, Barcelona, Spain
"Kaza Ana / Air Hole: Another Conceptualism from Asia," The National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan

Aichi Triennale 2010, Aichi, Japan (cat.)
"Still Vast Reserves," Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, Melbourne, Australia (cat.)
"Extra Ordinary," Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool, U.K.
"Eating the Universe. Food in Art," Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck (cat.), Austria
"NEANDERTHALIAN NIGHTS: The world is not at home," Galleria ZERO…, Milano, Italy

"Eating the Universe. Food in Art," Kunsthalle Dusseldorf (cat.), Germany
"LINK - Flexible Deviation," KOBE Biennale 2009, Kobe, Japan (cat.)
"Void of Memory," Platform, KIMUSA, Seoul (cat.), South Korea
"Hundred Stories about Love," 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan (cat.)
"Mash Up," ARTSPACE, Auckland, New Zealand
"The Grand Illusion," National Chang Kai Shek Cultural Center, Taipei, Taiwan

"Experimenta FOLKLORE," Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, Germany
"Between Art and Life," Centre d‘Art Contemporain Geneve, Switzerland
"The Street," Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, UK
"Florescendo: Brasil - Japao O seu lugar," Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Toyota, Japan (cat.)
"All Our Everydays," Gallery VER, Bangkok (cat.), Thailand
"Laughing in a Foreign Language," Hayward Gallery, London (cat.), UK

"Beautiful New World: Contemporary Visual Culture from Japan," Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangdong, China
"Tracks of Okinawan Culture 1872-2007," Okinawa Prefectural Art Museum, Okinawa, Japan (cat.)
"Tomorrow," Artsonje Center + Kumho Museum of Art, Seoul (cat.), South Korea
"Beautiful New World: Contemporary Visual Culture from Japan," Long March Project, Beijing (cat.), China
"Oriente e tropico," Instituto Cultural Usiminas, Ipatinga, Brazil
"How to live together," MAC: Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Santiago, Chile (cat.)
"Oriente e tropico," Palacio das Artes, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
"The Door into Summer: The Age of Micropop," Art Tower Mito, Japan (cat.)

"How to live together," 27th Biennial de Sao Paulo (cat.), Brasil
"International 06," Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool (cat.), UK
"Empieza el juego," La Casa Encendida, Madrid (cat.), Spain
"ANSTOSS BERLIN," Haus am Waldsee, Berlin, Germany
"Berlin-Tokyo Tokyo-Berlin," Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (cat.), Germany
"I love art 8," Watari-Um, The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan

"Circa Berlin," NIKOLAJ, Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center, Copenhagen (cat.), Denmark

"Video Dictionary," La Casa Encendida, Madrid, Spain
"Utopia Station," Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany
"Expat -Art Centre," ICA, London + Musee de Art Contenporain, Lyon, France
"MixMax," Artsonje Center, Seoul (cat.), south Korea

Biennale of Ceramics in Contemporary Art 2nd edition, Riviera Ligure, Italy (cat.)
"U-Topos," Tirana Biennale 2,Tirana, Albania (cat.)
"SPREAD IN PRATO 2," Prato, Italy (cat.)
"Utopia Station," 50th Venice Biennale, Venice (cat.), Italy
"25 Hrs," International Video Art Show, Barcelona (cat.), Spain
"Time After Time," Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisico, USA

Busan Biennale, Busan, South Korea
"Upstream," Amsterdam/Hoorn, Netherlands (cat.)
"La part de l‘autre," Carre d‘Art, Nime, France (cat.)
"Radiodumb," Zero Arte Contemporanea, Milano,Italy
"Art in the home," Edinburgh, Scotland
"C‘est pas du cinema!," Le Fresnoy, Studio National, Tourcoing, France (cat.)

"Rendez-Vous No.3," Collection Lambert, Avignon, France
"Facts of Life," Hayward Gallery, London (cat.), UK
"Mega Wave," Yokohama 2001:International Triennale of Contemporary Art, Yokohama (cat.), Japan
"Traveler‘s Tale," (web project), Institute of International Visual Arts (inIVA), London, UK
"Ikiro-be alive," Kroller-Muller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands (cat.)
"The Beginning of Things - The 6th Kitakyusyu Biennale," Kitakyusyu Municipal Museum of Art, Kita Kyusyu, Japan (cat.)
"Encounter," Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, Tokyo (cat.), Japan

"Gift of Hope," Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (cat.), Japan
"Do it digital," (web project), Kassel, Germany
"Transformer," Raum aktueller Kunst Martin Janda, Vienna, Austria
"As it is," Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, U.K. (cat.)
"COUNTER-PHOTOGRAPHY," Moscow (international touring exhibition) (cat.), Russia
"Elysian Fields," Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (cat.), France

"Empty Garden," Watari-Um, the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (artist book), Japan
"Extra et Ordinaire," Printemps de Cahors, Cahors, France (cat.)
"Ivresse," Ateliers d‘Artistes de la Ville de Marseille, Marseille, France
"Space," Witte de With, Rotterdam, Netherlands
"And/Or," Grazer Kunstverein, Graz, Austria

"Donaiyanen!," Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris (cat.), France
"La Table," Air de Paris, Paris
"every day," 11th Biennale of Sydney, Sydney (cat.)
"Memorealism," Museum City Fukuoka, Fukuoka, Japan (cat.)
1996 "Place for Survival," Kurumi Kindergarten, Shizuoka, Japan
"The Stream from the South," Kaseda, Kagoshima, Japan
"Survival Tool," Sakura City Museum of Art, Chiba, Japan (cat.)
"Public Art Project - Sound Art," Iwakura, Aichi, Japan (leaflet)
"Displacement-31st Today‘s Artist," Yokohama Citizens‘ Gallery, Yokohama (cat.), Japan

"From Duchamp to Duchamp," Kita Kanto Museum of Fine Arts, Gunma, Japan
"Rolywholyover a Circus John Cage," Art Tower Mito, Mito, Japan (cat.)

Selected Public Collections

Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
Frac Ile-de-France, Paris, France
Frac Corse, Corse, France
Nouveau musee national de Monaco, Monaco
Kunsthalle Bern, Bern, Switzerland
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, U.S.A.
The National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan
Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan

"Pieuvres á l‘appui" par Judicaël Lavrador, Libération, 22 Octobre 2018, FR

Shimabuku "Flying Me" von Daniel Baumann (pdf)

Shimabuku "Sea and Flowers" by Gauthier Lesturgie, inferno, winter/spring 2015 (pdf)

Have you ever seen a tortoise yawn?
Conversation between Shimabuku and Chiara Parisi

Shimabuku, Centre international d‘art et du paysage de l‘île de Vassivière, 2011

Chiara Parisi: We will start talking about what is a show for you. As you have said once, in a way, your first exhibition had to do with an octopus that you placed in the refrigerator when you lived in San Francisco with another student who did not really like the idea of having this kind of animal in the house. Against all odds he became the spectator of his own fridge, inviting friends to see an artwork at his place.

Shimabuku: Yes, I lived in San Francisco as an art school student. It was already more than 20 years ago. When I started to live with my roommate, he begged me "Please don‘t put any fish or octopus in the refrigerator". He was from Kentucky; it wasn’t at all a custom for him to eat fish in those days.

At the time, I said "OK ", but later, I started to think why couldn’t I put what I liked in the fridge? Eating fish is my culture and the refrigerator also belonged to me. So one day, while my roommate was away, I bought some fish and octopus leg at a Japanese supermarket. Shortly after he came home, he noticed the fish and octopus in the refrigerator. As soon as he found them, he yelled "Ugh! ", I wondered if he would get mad, but all he did was call a friend on the phone.

The friend, who lived in the neighbourhood, came over immediately, and both of them took turns opening the refrigerator door over and over saying "Ugh!" each time. They seemed having a lot of fun.
That time something really happened between my roommate and me and even to my roommate‘s friend. So I called it "Exhibition in a Refrigerator". For me, an exhibition is a thing that makes some changes among people.

CP: Since this first experience, you have been working with animals (octopus, monkeys, dogs, birds…) and here, in Vassivière, you decided to work with a tortoise. An emblematic animal that is, among other things, evocative of eternity.

Does the presence of all these animals in your work signify an interest in another kind of reality, another vision of time, another way of communicating?

Shima: Animals are interesting because they have quite a different way of life than people. Sometimes, it is difficult to understand why it is so big, why it is so slow etc., but they have their own way, so you just have to accept them the way they are. Looking at animals is also captivating and quite interactive. Everyone gets something different from animals. For example, some people will see an octopus as a devil or a creature from outer space, but some will say: "It looks delicious!"

This time in Vassivière, I bring an African spurred tortoise in the art centre. That is a work called "My Teacher Tortoise". I think people will be surprised when they will see a living tortoise, it is something they did not expect in an exhibit room. But it is not only about surprise. People will be able to walk into the tortoise’s pen and meet one on one. This way, people can get close to the tortoise; each of them will have a personal relationship with the tortoise.

In those days, I was thinking of making a work about "having a break" or "slowness", and then I had a chance to go to an aquarium. I met a tortoise there. It was a special area for kids, but on a weekday afternoon the place was empty, I could spend time alone with the tortoise for a long time. Of course, a tortoise is a typical creature that symbolizes slowness; actually it is maybe too typical. Because of that, I was looking for something different than a tortoise at the beginning. But after having the chance to look at a real tortoise in the aquarium, I was completely amazed. Have you ever seen a tortoise yawn? It is beautiful.

CP: I do hope that we will have the chance to witness the yawning of your tortoise. In the wood of sculptures, there is a billboard work: “Make animals smile”. The audience is invited to think about their condition as viewers and, in the same time, about the condition of animals. Your work, especially on the island that is known for sheltering many animals, interrogates us about this possible inversion.

Shima: As a matter of fact, if there are people and animals in the same space, animals are looking at people too. But very often, people tend to forget about it. I say this with humor. And on Vassivière island, the interesting thing is that the vast majority of the inhabitants are animals. You told me that there are only two people actually living on the island. If I recall correctly, it was you and another person who are taking care of the island, right? But there are many animals. So it seemed natural to make something for the island’s animals.

CP: I also feel that the title of your exhibition Man should try to avoid contact with alien life forms is offering an extremely poetic interaction between the public and the animals, closely linked to the presence of the tortoise.

Shima: I found the sentence "Man should try to avoid contact with alien life forms." as a newspaper headline some time ago. And it was extremely poetic to me. But at the same time, I took it as a strong message. For me, it meant that we still have many things to do before trying to meet alien life forms. There are still so many different types of people to meet on this planet. There are many creatures to encounter on this planet. We have to meet tortoise before alien life forms. In our society, we tend to believe something new or far is always better, but I have doubts about that idea. So I have realized that sometimes it is better to stop.

But in fact, the article’s meaning was quite different. The quote is from Cosmologist Stephen Hawking. What he meant was not metaphoric. He said: “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, with the catastrophic consequences we all know about.”

I decided to use the sentence "Man should try to avoid contact with alien life forms." anyway, as a metaphorical way to say that stopping or turning back can be a positive experience.

CP: I am very touched by the extraordinary and beautiful coincidence of your name’s meaning; ‘Shimabuku’ means ‘island’ and ‘bag’. This is also linked to your personality and your passionate need for creating and telling stories.

Shima: Actually, my name Shimabuku consists of 2 Chinese ideograms, the one for “Shima” means “island”, and the one for “buku” means “bag” or “sack”. It is very normal that Japanese names are made of 2 or 3 Chinese signs, but normally it makes sense. For example, famous Japanese novelist’s name, Mishima means 3 islands. “Mi” means “3”. “Shima” is the same ideogram than mine. The Artist’s name Ono means “small field”. “O” means small. “No” means field. Like these, most of Japanese people’s names make sense, but my name doesn’t make sense. I don’t understand the combination of island and bag. Even when I was a child this was mysterious. Maybe it was my first real surrealistic experience. Something I can’t understand about myself. I have lived with this feeling all my life. It has influenced how I make work. As you know, my work often addresses the special encounters between things.

CP: You often say that when you were 18 years old, you wanted to be a poet or a tour guide. It’s true that your work deals with language, with the notions of fable, legend, and narrated stories.

Shima: Yes, I wanted to be a poet or tour guide when I was a teenager. For me, a poet and a tour guide are similar, because they are showing something special to people. They lead the way to special places. What I am doing now is similar to that.

CP: Thinking about your work, I see a lot of similarities between art and the culture of a given country. In particular, I am thinking about the video that you are presenting in the Studio here in Vassivière. You say about its title “Fish & Chips” that it is the “most poetic word combination in English cityscape.”

Shima: For most people “Fish & Chips”, is a very normal combination of words. I think it is quite a beautiful and poetic, because there is a meeting of the sea and the land. English cities are filled with those words! You will see “Fish & Chips” signs everywhere in England. For me, it is like a huge art installation made by people over a long period of time. When I was invited to the Liverpool biennial, I wanted to make a work relating to this “Fish & Chips” idea. So I decided to make a video work where chips, in essence a potato, are going to meet a fish underwater. I wanted to make my own “Fish & Chips”.

CP: Did you shoot the video by yourself? Did you dive?

Shima: Yes, I went diving myself with an underwater camera. But I was not alone, there were other divers assisting me.

CP: How did you make the potato swim so well?

Shima: Many people ask this question, but actually a potato is quite a good swimmer! That also amazes me. You should try to swim together with a potato once. It is a beautiful experience.

If I go back to your question about the relationship between my work and language, sometimes, some words become the starting point of my work. “Onion Orion” is an example. Maybe, some people or writers enjoy this kind of wordplay in notebooks or in their head, but very few people realize it in reality. It becomes my art. “Onion Orion” is an interesting work. Ever since I made this work, whenever I look up at a starry sky, I see onions floating. And I think about ancient people who put names to constellations, people who saw the Great Dipper in the sky.

CP: I like this idea of constellation very much and I feel it is something that goes through your entire body of work, along with the idea of taking some time to look at things which are close to us. In fact, I see all your works (such as “Flying me”, “Leaves Swim”, “Something that Floats / Something that Sinks”) as the construction of a constellation that requires us to be slower, more contemplative maybe? Would you agree with that, to consider your work as a constellation?

Shima: I was never conscious about my whole work as a constellation. It is a beautiful and interesting metaphor, and maybe it is true. I am interested in the concept of a constellation, because it is something where people see the relationship between stars, certain forms in the nothingness, in the abstract starlit sky. And it is something to put a name on something that didn’t have a name before. I think my work is similar to that.

CP: Can you also talk about another work of yours “Ice Cream with Salt / Ice Cream with Pepper”?

Shima: That is the work I presented for the first time in my show with Pierre Joseph at Air de Paris in 2010. Then, after this show, I had a little event to serve ice cream with salt and pepper at a gallery space in Today museum in Beijing. It was in a group show. Having some vanilla ice cream with salt and pepper, it sounds bad, but actually the taste is quite good. It is quite a miracle taste. You should try! "Ice Cream with Salt / Ice Cream with Pepper" is a small adventure and revolution in our daily life. It is a kind of statement and a message for our whole life.

CP: It is not only this work, you often make works about food or cooking: “Cucumber Journey” in 2000, for example. What is the relationship between food or cooking and art for you?

Shima: I think cooking and art are similar. They are both about unexpected meetings of far away ingredients to create something delicious, something good. Both in art and in cooking, a single ingredient can be used in so many different ways. You need creative imagination to question what’s edible and what combinations might result in something delicious. It’s also necessary to have the courage and openness to try them out.

CP: “Something that Floats / Something that Sinks”, is also a work related to cooking.

Shima: Yes, when I was washing tomatoes in my kitchen, I discovered that there were floating ones and sinking ones. And I was wondering why. Maybe there was a scientific reason, but I decided later to show this as a mysterious thing. It is not interpretation, I want people to have the same experience I had in my kitchen. It may be such a little thing really, but in that respect, one thing I am doing throughout my practice is giving a place for such little things.

CP: Can you tell about the work “Doing something you didn‘t plan to do”?

Shima: A golf practice cage is installed in the Art centre’s Little Theatre. The visitors get to play golf, something that they did not plan to do in a museum. There’s always something that opens up when you do something you didn’t think about doing. Even me, I never imagined I would ever play golf. But one day, a friend asked me to play together, so I did it. I found it interesting. What was interesting is while I was starting to know a bit about golf, I also started to talk with some men who had been talking difficulties before.

CP: About the event you organized in Wales “Swansea Jack Memorial Dog Swimming Competition”, you told me that many people thought you just documented an existing local event when they looked at the video and photos.

Shima: It became a really natural event, so I was also feeling that I was just documenting an event that‘s been going on for generations. Someone asked me “What’s the purpose of organizing a dog swimming competition and call it art?” I answered I didn’t have a choice, it actually had to be art because we live in a sad era in which things like this are only possible under the context of art. There used to be a time when the community leader or the goofy neighbour took it upon themselves to organize events and festivals around town. But now, in the name of efficiency, there are less and less people doing things that at first glance seem pointless. For that reason, especially in this day and age, I feel that art should take on a broader role in our society.

CP: You also have melancholic photo works, showing things like a red apple seemingly out of place in a snowy landscape, fragile boughs in the snow, some withered tree branches, an empty basket, a container being hoisted caught in a beam of sunlight.

Shima: I like photographs very much. I have always had old film cameras and I like taking that kind of photo. Photography is interesting to me, because it is a media that can catch something you don’t understand at the moment you don’t understand it. I didn’t know why there were apple and tangerine on the snow. I took them without understanding. With photography, you can take a mystery as a mystery. By using old cameras, something unexpected is always possible. You see the rainbow light reflections of the lens. You have to accept and enjoy something you don’t understand.

CP: Your whole body of work but also your process of working, of thinking about exhibitions, offer the public another kind of relationship with time which seems to allow us to create a pace of our own, to install a sort of tranquillity.

Shima: I like to do things softly and quietly. Actually, I am often moved by this kind of behaviour. I am not moved by a loud voice and I know there are some people who like it this way. Revolutionary things don’t have to always be loud.

CP: One last question, in Vassivière, the whole exhibition leads the visitor through a metaphorical vision of your work. You said that you think about it as “a forest” with “many, many points of entry, and many paths running through it”. Your attitude toward the public is always sensitive in relation to the apprehension of your work.

Shima: When I make a show, I think it is important to leave some space for the audience to freely think and imagine. I think seeing an exhibition is not only about understanding the artist’s intention. More than that, I think that seeing an exhibition is a chance to feel and think by or for yourself. This is not only a place to see but also a place for experience.

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