Beyond Memory is Tomoko Yoneda’s first UK solo exhibition in ten years. The exhibition will bring together photographs from the past 14 years depicting landscapes and interiors that have been marked in some way by destructive forces.
Yoneda selects her subjects after careful research - the sea, the forest, flowers and derelict buildings have been chosen to illuminate aspects of twentieth century conflicts. The titles of her works provide clues to the complex and troubling narratives of the past. In the series ‘Scene ‘ (2000 – 2007) the photograph Seascape depicts the beach at Bertigoga, Brazil, where Dr Josef Mengele drowned; Wedding shows a wedding party on the Dandong River which divides North Korea and China; and Forest portrays Delville Wood, France, the location of the Battle of the Somme in the First World War.
For the series ‘Japanese House’ (2010) Yoneda photographed homes built in the capital of Taiwan, Taipei, during the Japanese occupation from 1895 to 1945. The influence of Japanese design and taste are evident in her prints titled Former House of General Wang Shu-Ming. The Japanese design references in the shoji screens and alcoves with grid-like structures are contrasted with western wallpaper and ‘Chinese’ dark red paint. The house can be seen as a site of conflicting political ideologies.
The series ‘Rivers Become Oceans’ (2008), taken in Bangladesh, alludes to the destructive force of climate change. Due to its location on the delta of three major rivers, Bangladesh is the most vulnerable of nations due to rising sea levels. In this series Yoneda has portrayed a country living amongst the echoes of a struggle for independence, on the edge of the sea and also at the edge of existence.
Other work on display in the exhibition will include the triptych Beyond Memory and Uncertainty: American B52 Returning From A Raid in Iraq. Fairford, England (2003), a reference to Yoneda’s parent’s memories of the American B29 bombers flying over Japan during the Second World War. Through this work Yoneda suggests a state of disquieting uncertainty brought about by the recent memory of war. This will be shown alongside Lovers from ‘After The Thaw’ created in post Cold War Hungary; The 50th Parallel depicting the road through Sakhalin which divided Russia and Japan from the series ‘The Island of Sakhalin’ (2013) titled after Anton Chekhov’s book of the same name, Chrysanthemums taken in Nagasaki following the Great Earthquake of 2011 and the most recent ongoing series, ‘Crystals’ (2013-).
The exhibition has been curated by Paul Wombell.
Tomoko Yoneda was born in Hyogo, Japan in 1965 and lives and works in London. She studied photography at The University of Illinois, Chicago and at the Royal College of Art, London. Solo exhibitions of her work have been held at the Himeji City Museum of Art, Hyogo (2014), Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (2013), Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2008) and Daiwa Foundation, London (2005). Her work has recently been included in the SeMA Biennale, Mediacity Seoul (2014), The 10th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2014), Aichi Triennial, Japan (2013), The First Kyiv International Biennale of Contemporary Art, Ukraine (2012), 13th Asian Art Biennale, Bangladesh (2008), 52nd Venice Biennale (2007) and the 10th International Istanbul Biennale (2007). Her work is held in numerous private and public collections including Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The National Museum of Art, Osaka, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Kadist Art Foundation, Paris and San Francisco, Victoria & Albert Museum, London and The British Council, London.