(selected by Cecile Johnson Soliz)
As it is, 2004
Reiko Aoyagi was born in Japan and moved to the UK in 1992. Over the past decade Aoyagi has made a series of subtle interventions within buildings and public spaces in Wales, England, Northern Ireland, Japan, Korea, Poland, Pakistan, Australia and Mexico. Principally using light, both natural and artificial, she creates places of reflection and absorption, drawing attention to the effect that architecture and light have on visual experience.
Aoyagi states, 'I am interested in exploiting how culturally and individually different people can communicate with each other in a complicated contemporary world. To achieve this I respond to a space and transform it to create an imaginative space. I use light as a main material as well as water, air and earth.'
Their stark simplicity draws attention to the physicality of looking, measuring the passage of time whilst absorbing these carefully created and often engineered works: 'Ones sense of being in the world has altered after entering and experiencing one of Reikos installations. As she once said to me, 'No minute is ever the same, the one that has passed is gone and no other will be like it'.' (Cecile Johnson Soliz).
In the accompanying text to the group show Out of Place (Chapter, Cardiff, 1998, with Nilofar Akmut, Phyllida Barlow and Renate Koch), Sunil Gupta writes, 'Reiko appears to respond to a sense of displacement by revealing the layers of history within the fabric of the building and then bathing it in natural light. Aoyagi's self-imposed exile has led her to shed fixed notions of cultural traditions. She works here as an artist from another place but is not bound up with stereotypical values often associated by a Western audience with Japan, values of either tradition or kitsch.' (1)
In 2001, Aoyagi made subtle adjustments to the gallery environment for the group exhibition Glow, curated around ideas of light, space and air (Artspace, Woolloomooloo, Sydney, Australia, with Artstation and Phillipa Lawrence). Through light and laser projection, Aoyagi reflected the daily passage of the sun on its east/west axis, and the natural light conditions that would have occurred if the exhibition chamber had not been cut off from daylight. The division of the space by the light beam intensified awareness of the division of the gallery from the external environment, focusing attention on the architectural structure.
Here, Aoyagi was not exclusively interested in the gallery per se but in the history and surroundings of the building it occupies: the pillar and post construction, the proximity to the harbour, the north facing orientation. By drawing attention via the light to the three timber pillars in the gallery we recall its beginnings, the labour of its construction, and the artificial partitioning of the gallery from the sun.
For Aoyagi, light is also a symbolic material, and she is truly creating a reflective space. She is aware that even though we live in an age of exhaustive and instantaneous communication technology, cross-cultural understanding is still limited and is evermore mediated by the technological apparatus itself. (2)
After studying fine art in London, Reiko Aoyagi studied MA Fine Art at University of Wales, Cardiff in 1995. In 2001, Aoyagi curated the exhibition New Space at the Oriel Mostyn gallery in Wales with Martin Barlow, which explored the new possibilities of spatial experience fostered by todays global technologies and the daily movement of people and goods across the world.
Recent exhibitions include, As it is, Toki Art Space, Tokyo, Japan 2004, Transparent, Oriel Mostyn Gallery, Llandudno, Wales 2001 and Glow, Artspace, Sydney, Australia 2001.
She lives and works in Cardiff.
1. Sunil Gupta, 'Inside/Outside: Surrounded by Four Women', 1998
2. Glow exhibition information, Artspace, Woolloomooloo, Sydney, Australia