If essentially it can be said that each of us lives in a different horizon defined by the range of one’s perceptions and experiences, then Yuki Okumura’s artistic universe unfolds around this notion of parallel realities, which he finds as surreal in its own right as sci-fi movies or the many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics. Okumura’s work is often characterized by collaborative and meditative practices that revolve around translation—not only verbal and visual interpretations, but also manipulations of categorical frameworks—as an impossible attempt to create tunnels through disparate territories.
In the artist’s own words, “defined as an interwoven network of interpersonal communication, society is a dream created so realistically by language.” Through his projects that are often inspired by other artists' activities, Okumura is interested in the making of a situation where language malfunctions in some way, so that “we can collectively have another kind of dreams—perhaps an alternate form of society, so to speak, that is not based on our virtual togetherness, but our essential solitudes.”
Most recently, his work has started to take the form of reinterpretation of works by other artists, both contemporary and avant-garde. From each of those artists' works, he extracts a certain element that seems to mirror his own practice in some way, developing it into a new structure where multiple self-referential layers are interwoven.
For his exhibition at Hedah, Okumura will re-stage three of his ongoing projects on site in Maastricht, forming together a compact survey of the artist's recent activities presented for the first time in Europe.
Canned Multiverse (2012–) will take place at Hedah during the opening and throughout the exhibition, where each visitor is encouraged to create their own version of Canned Universe (1964), a re-sealed empty can with its original paper label glued inside, made by Genpei Akasegawa to conceptually enclose the whole world.
Prior to the opening, Okumura will conduct another workshop called Anatomy Fiction (2008–), for the purposes of which the children of BSO Colorito Jungle and Basisschool Wyck are invited to draw a life-size self-portrait depicting a possible world inside their own body.
Jun Yang: A Short Lecture on Forgetting and Remembering (2011), is a film documenting interpreter Noriko Kobayashi at work, translating Chinese-Austrian artist’s Jun Yang giving a lecture at Tokyo University of the Arts. The camera focuses only on Kobayashi convincingly and sometimes awkwardly discussing the artist’s practice in Japanese, as if her own. Following screenings held at art academies in Europe and Japan, the film will be shown at ABK Maastricht as a 'virtual lecture' prior to the exhibition, whose documentation will form part of the installation at Hedah.
Born in Aomori, Japan, 1978, Yuki Okumura currently lives and works in Antwerp and Brussels as an artist-in-residency at WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels.