FR: You were born in Curitiba, live and work in Sao Paulo and have Japanese relatives. Would you like to tell me about your roots and how this cultural background affects your work?
JK: I was born in Curitiba but I grew up in São Paulo since early childhood, so I consider the last my hometown. My grandparents came from Japan in the twenties during a hard economical recession. As the other immigrants that traveled half of the globe in a ship to Brazil, their intentions were to save money and go back to their country. This never happened because the harsh reality that they encountered here made this land become their own. It was different from North America where immigrants went to stay. So it's possible to say that North America is based in a dream about the future and Brazil in a disillusion of the present. My grandparents learned to love this country and didn't want to go back to Japan when they could, but this scenario is deeply rooted in the Brazilian culture and in Nipo-Brazilian culture. I can't affirm that it is the reason I'm so interested in contextual work and in reality-fiction relation, but it is from where I work.
Jogo [Game], 2011/12, fotograma emoldurado [framed photogram], 55 x 44 cm cada [each], detalhe [detail]
FR: Your latest solo show „Andamentos para lugar sem sombras“ (Progression in space without shadows) at Galeria Pilar displays three paperwork series with a repetitive character and a site-specific drawing on a wooden wall, connecting the gallery space with the garden. How would you describe your motivation and ideas for creating this ensemble of works and what are the connections between the pieces?
JK: The works in the show were made during 2011 and 2012. I was interested in exploring the repetition of images and it's possible meanings. Repetition to observe similarities and differences, repetition to juxtapose time, repetition and linearity, repetition to form an unique image. I don't see huge differences between the works on paper and the wooden panel (paper is another stage of the wood anyway). All the works are framed (the wooden panel is framed in the architecture and not in regular frames as the others) and this is a subject or a second subject in each group. The works have the same concern which is to refer to the context or to the condition in which they're found.
Jogo [Game], 2011/12, fotograma emoldurado [framed photogram], 55 x 44 cm cada [each], vista da instalação [installation view]: Galeria Pilar, Brazil, 2012
Contenção II [Retention II], 2012, grafite e cera s/ madeira [graphite and wax on wood], 335 x 642 cm, vista da instalação [installation view]: Galeria Pilar, Brazil, 2012
FR: What are your main aesthetic references and where else does your inspiration come from?
JK: I believe my main references are not aesthetics, but approaches towards art. I can point to the works of filmmakers Werner Herzog and Ingmar Bergman; the legacy of artists such as Sol Lewitt, Kazimir Malevitch and Kurt Schwitters; the investigations with light and image by Man Ray and Laszlo Moholy Nagy. Recently I'm very touched by the Bauhaus will of creation and transformation.
FR: While I was visiting you during the set-up of your show at Galeria Pilar, I noticed your love and excitement for material handling. The way you talked about the subtle silk screenings which were leaning against the gallery wall and the huge site-specific drawing that was being drawn made me think: How important is material and materiality for you?
JK: In visual language materiality is the means by which ideas turn into communication. In art the means are not transparent as Mel Bochner said, they speak as much as the content. The communication through material is not precise and direct. I find the possibilities of understanding and the demands of the chosen medium very rich and challenging. Though ideas can be expressed by immaterial means such as the textual language, in my work so far, the fact of being present persists. I try to respond to the questions I find in our times using a powerful and often misjudged tool which is detail, the subtlety you mentioned. The material itself is not the goal for me, it doesn't precede the work, but it makes me think of unplanned contents, as well as, adds unpredicted meanings. This puts me to work in the first same ground of the rest of the world which is physical reality.
FR: Your work mainly consists of drawing and fragile paper constructions e.g. the work „Distância“ or „Arco“. Why do you like to work with paper and what interests you about this material?
JK: Paper is primarly used as a two-dimensional means and it's different from the canvas because it is historically linked to daily life use and not to art history. In the installations I used paper as a three-dimensional means considering that the reality of the image is the same as the reality of everything else. Mira Schendel has used paper in this direction as well. When I made the installations you mentioned, paper seemed a proper medium. It is as ephemeral as the situations they were put into.
Distância [Distance], 2008, colagem s/ papel [collage on paper], vista da instalação [installation view]: Centro Cultural São Paulo, Brazil, 2008
FR: Within the framework of the 7th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art in 2012, curated by Artur Żmijewski, you recently contributed to their Open Call. ArtWiki.org started with this biennale as an open platform for artists to share artist biographies as a free and open historiography for contemporary art. What exactly interested you about putting your artist material for research investigations online and sharing political leanings?
JK: The position of Artur Zmijewski interested me because I found it courageous to admit that there are problems in the art system. Although I don't agree with the solutions he proposes. I decided to apply to the open call to say what I think about his text "Forget Fear" from inside the channel opened by the biennale. I didn't put any images of my work, as I understood the aim of ArtWiki so far is not the art work itself but it is an effort to attend to the growing necessity of stating ideas.
FR: In your profile at ArtWiki.org you stated: „So, the issue here is not to make art as a protest or talk about politics through art, but to position yourself in the society as an active political person. This means to live with ethics and a critical view always.„ How do you express ethics and this critical view in your artistic work? Is there a formal outcome or is it solely related to the way you think and live as an artist?
JK: As I also said on the same text, I don't believe that art has the mission of making people see something. Art can only be there. The understanding of it doesn't belong to the artist, it belongs to the receiver. So I don't make art in order to express ethics and critique, but it is there. I.e. I wouldn't make a work to say something that is not a genuine matter for me, this is work with ethics. I like to be concerned by the context in which my work will be present. This is to have a critical view, in my opinion. The subject an artist works with is connected, but not in a direct way, to their position as a citizen or as a political individual. One doesn't exclude the other, precisely because art doesn't work under the same logic as mathematics.