E-Issue 02 –– NYC Spring 2021
  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in NYC
  3. Pop(Corn): Zeid Jaouni
  4. You Can Take The Girl Out Of The City 
  5. Rapport: NYC
  6. Kindergarten Records Discuss The Future of Electronic Music
  7. Sole DXB Brings NY Hip-Hop To Abu Dhabi
  8. Wei Han Finds ‘Home’ In New York
  9. Vikram Divecha: Encounters and Negotiations

E-02++ Spring/Summer 2021
DXB “After The Beep”: A Review and Some Reflections
OSA Rintaro Fuse Curates “Silent Category” at Creative Center Osaka
AUH “Total Landscaping”at Warehouse 421
TYO “Mimicry of Hollows” Opens at The 5th Floor
TYO Startbahn, Japan’s Leading Art Blockchain Company, Builds a New Art Infrastructure for the Digital Age
DXB There Is A You In The Cloud You Can’t Delete: A Review of “Age of You” at Jameel Arts Centre
BAH Mihrab: Mysticism, Devotion, and Geo-Identity
LDN Fulfilment Services Ltd. Questions Techno-Capitalism on Billboards in London
DXB Ana Escobar: Objects Revisited
TYO BIEN Opens Two Solo Exhibitions in Island Japan and Parcel
CTU/AUH/YYZ Sabrina Zhao: Between Abu Dhabi, Sichuan, and Toronto
RUH Noor Riyadh Shines Light on Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Art Strategy
DXB A Riot Towards Landscapes
DXB A ‘Menu Poem’ and All That Follows
DXB Alserkal Art Week Top Picks 
DXB Permeability and Regional Nodes: Sohrab Hura on Curating Growing Like a Tree at Ishara Art Foundation
AUH Re-viewing Contrasts: Hyphenated Spaces at Warehouse421
DXB There’s a Hurricane at the Foundry

E-Issue 01 –– AUH/DXB Summer 2020 
  1. Editor’s Note 
  2. What’s On in the UAE
  3. Pop(Corn): Hashel Al Lamki
  4. Tailoring in Abu Dhabi
  5. Rapport: Dubai 
  6. Michael Rakowitz From the Diaspora

E-01++ Fall/Winter 2020-21
GRV MIA Anywhere Hosts First Virtual Exhibition of Female Chechen Artists    
DXB Sa Tahanan Collective Redefines Home for Filipino Artists
SHJ Sharjah Art Foundation Jets Ahead on the Flying Saucer
AUH SEAF Cohort 7 at Warehouse 421 
DXB 101 Strikes Again with Second Sale at Alserkal Avenue
DXB Spotlight on Dubai Design Week 2020
DXB Melehi’s Waves Complicate Waving Goodbye
DXB Kanye Says Listen to the Kids: Youth Takeover at Jameel Arts Centre
DAM Investigating the Catalogues of the National Museum of Damascus
AUH Ogamdo: Crossing a Cultural Highway between Korea and the UAE
TYO James Jarvis Presents Latest Collages at 3110NZ
DXB Do You See Me How I See You?
DXB Thaely Kicks Off Sustainable Sneakers
AUH BAIT 15 Welcomes New Member Zuhoor Al Sayegh
MIA a_part Gives Artists 36 Hours to React

UAE Tawahadna Introduces MENA Artists to a Global Community
LHR/CAI Alaa Hindia’s Jewelry Revives Egyptian Nostalgia
DXB Taaboogah Infuses Comedy Into Khaleeji Menswear
DXB Meet Tamila Kochkarova Behind ‘No Boys Allowed’
DXB Alserkal Arts Foundation Presents Mohamed Melehi
AUH/DXB 101 Pioneers Ethical and Curious Art Collecting
AUH Sarah Almehairi Initiates Conversations
DXB Augustine Paredes Taking Up Space
LHR/MCT Hanan Sultan Rhymes Frankincense with Minimalism
BEY GAD Map: Arts & Culture Relief for Beirut

E-Issues Info
––
    1. Mission
    2. Schedule

    3. Editorial Board
    4. Contributors
 
GAD Info ––
    1. About Global Art Daily
    2. Archive
§§ Year 2018
    NYC Shirin Neshat In Conversation with Sophie Arni and Ev Zverev
    PAR Hottest Spices: Michèle Lamy
    BER Slavs and Tatars: “Pulling a Thread to Undo The Sweater”
   AUH Abu Dhabi Is The New Calabasas

GAD Talk Series ––
    1. What is GAD? 2015 to Now

    2. Where is GAD? An Open Coversation on Migration as Art Practitioners

    3. When the Youth Takes Over: Reflecting on the 2020 Jameel Arts Centre Youth Takeover
   4. Young Curators in Tokyo: The Making of The 5th Floor
    5. How To Create Digital Networks in The Art World?

Open Call ––
    Policy



Main website ︎

Mark

Pop(Corn): Nimyu


Interview by Sherry Wu

Published on September 08, 2021  

Pop(Corn) is a section that looks at who’s emerging, or poppin’, in a city, what their perception of local art and pop culture is, and what is currently popping up in their head. Pop(Corn) Trivia ends the interview.

        Nimyu is a Tokyo-based Chinese contemporary artist who works across a variety of media, including painting, video, and animation. She received her BFA in Painting from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, and an MFA in Painting from the New York Academy of Art, New York. Her work reflects on our information-driven society and questions the credibility of the information and power structures that surround us, encouraging self-liberation in a saturated digital landscape.



From the moment we met, I felt I have known Nimyu for a very long time, even though we have never seen each other in real life. When Sophie introduced us, she mentioned that we are both from Beijing. I think that’s why we immediately vibed. This interview is more or less a result of our Wechat calls about galleries in 798, digital art, and life in Tokyo. We talked about the galleries that Nimyu liked in Beijing, such as CLC Gallery Venture, SPURS Gallery, Beijing Commune and Galerie Urs Meile etc. We soon discovered that we both enjoy more independent galleries with experimental tendencies. Our common interest in art made this interview a fun experience.


“If one doesn’t force oneself to close one’s eyes, one will eventually see things undeserving of being seen.”



Sherry Wu: Let’s start with your work. You delve into themes of urbanism, gender issues, as well as radioactivity in Japan. How did you get into these issues?

NimyuHong Kong Hollow (2019). Digital Collage and 20-channel HD video (color, no sound). Image courtesy of the artist.  

Nimyu: I’ve done a series of artworks to reflect on today’s information-driven society. Maybe it’s because I've experienced migration in different living environments, I’m particularly sensitive to information censorship. The same information can be presented in totally different ways because of the media discrepancy in different places. My goal was to make people rethink about the credibility of the information distributed around us. At the same time, I hope my work increases people’s awareness of systemic power structures, and for people to reflect on what it means to “release oneself in a saturated digital environment.” All the themes I’m interested in are taken from the absurdity of contemporary life, and that’s what I wish to convey in my work. Still, I’m more interested in the cause rather than the development of an event. In other words, I want to investigate the essence of a phenomenon more than the phenomenon itself. In Unclear Wave, nobody knows the absolute truth. Regardless, I wish to get closer to that truth…

Nimyu, Hong Kong Hollow (2019). Digital Collage and 20-channel HD video (color, no sound). Image courtesy of the artist.

S.W.: In your artist statement, you mention the concept of digital saturation. How do you personally deal with information overload?

N.: This is a tricky question. As Rene Char said, “if one doesn’t force oneself to close one’s eyes, one will eventually see things undeserving of being seen.” It’s difficult for people to contain themselves with so much information explosion and overload. For me, other than keeping the habit of checking daily news, it’s crucial to also keep the habit of reading physical books. I’ve been trying to reject viewing fragmented and meaningless information. I found ways to filter unnecessary information: for instance, setting your phone as black and white mode and setting a time limit on your phone applications.


“Images are always novel because they have history.”



S.W.: How would you describe the act of creating in the digital age?

N.: I recently finished Vie et mort de l'image: Une histoire du regard en Occident by French author and philosopher Régis Debray, and there is a passage I found interesting. It roughly translates to:
Images are always novel because they have history. Although the so-called ‘new’ mechanical images are only new because they are oblivious of the body and fear, it’s difficult for them to pass on, to have any physical content, and to live on despite the influence of technological update. Because mechanical images lack emotional values, they’ll soon retire to a piece of document, capable of only telling their own generation yet not able to reflect any other, and disappear in the ocean of visual and auditory advances. In other words, mechanical images cannot exist beyond their generation; But those what we call them images of art, they’ve achieved that level of excellence because they have awakened in us the vibrations of history (or the estranged feelings of reptiles that are remnants of our ancestors in our brains).” 

I do not agree with the complete negation of new images, but these words made me reflect on the qualities of an image: what kind of image can “awaken in us the vibrations of history (or the estranged feelings of reptiles that are remnants of our ancestors in our brains)?” Can my art surpass my own generation and work regardless of by then outdated technology?


“Also it's good that with the blockchain technology, artists don't have to worry about the authenticity and uniqueness of their work to be replaced.”



S.W.: What do you think of the recent surge towards digital art, powered by blockchain? Would you consider doing NFTs? Do you think Japan is becoming a hub for NFTs?

N.: Yes I’m considering doing NFTs, partly because there were partners from China and America who contacted me for exhibiting and trading NFTs. At the beginning I became interested in NFT because of Club House and Wechat (the Chinese social media) — there have always been conflicts between the copyright and the spreading of New Media art, so I have been keen on the technology of encrypting copyright. Recently I received an invitation from the Tokyo-based company Starbahn, to use their “Cert.” digital certificate for free. I think it would be great to have transparency in the buying and selling of artworks and to be able to enforce rules and regulations. Also it's good that with the blockchain technology, artists don't have to worry about the authenticity and uniqueness of their work to be replaced. I hope that Startbahn will soon get involved in the NFT market so that fine art can have their own blockchain platform for trading. After the hype fades, more and more artists and art institutions join this revolution — this will be a great push for collecting digital art.


“If an artist wants to be based in Tokyo, I think it’s a good idea to come and study Art and Japanese first. It will help you fit in better.”



S.W.: Technology goes hand-in-hand with travel. You have a very international background. You are active in the Tokyo art scene now, but before that, you were based in Beijing and New York too. What do you think about Tokyo's art scene? What's missing? What's exciting about it? How does it compare to New York and Beijing?

N.: Tokyo is a very international and fast-paced city. Take the art scene as an example: there are many well-rounded exhibitions, both big and small scales. In China, the US, or Europe, exhibitions hosted by galleries usually last up to one month. But in Japan, they only last up to about two weeks, which is half of the duration. This is not easy on galleries and artists – it means less time for recommending to potential buyers, less time for media coverage, and less time for public viewing. Everything is compressed. Meanwhile, there is more pressure on us - people who work in the art world - when the workload is twice the size.

Besides, the pop culture and subculture in Japan is very mature, which can be a very heavy burden on the art world. Such circumstances influence the public’s need and taste for art. Artists create in direct response to commercial tendencies, under the influence of highly developed pop culture. For instance, artists might have a more steady income when collaborating with fashion brands, but this is demanding and takes up creative energy. Reversely, creating Fine Art devoid of commercial intentions is more difficult because of the waning of its own market.

Nimyu, Portrait Elsewhere (video installation). SPIRAL arts complex. Image courtesy of the artist and the Gallery.

S.W.: As a Chinese artist based in Tokyo, how long did it take you to find your place in the art scene and what advice do you have for young artists who want to follow in your footsteps?

N.: When I first came to Japan, I spent all my time learning the language and fitting in. At the time I didn’t have any art connections in Tokyo and my contract was with a gallery in Beijing. My focus was still in China during the first three years. Other than a few solo exhibitions, the group exhibitions were organized by Chinese galleries and institutions. Last year I couldn’t travel back to China because of Covid, so I cancelled a solo exhibition at a Beijing gallery and started doing shows in Tokyo. If an artist wants to be based in Tokyo, I think it’s a good idea to come and study Art and Japanese first. It will help you fit in better.

Nimyu, N-Ja (2017). 4 channels HD video (color, sound). Image courtesy of the artist.

S.W.: You recently participated in a group exhibition entitled East-East Vol.4: The Curio Shop, bridging artists from the Arabian Gulf and East Asia. Could you explain the works you exhibited there?

N.: I have two works exhibited at East-East. The first one is called N-Ja. A few years ago, my relatives and friends in China started to ask me about nuclear radiation pollution in Japan. They advised me to stay away from the Kanto area or to not eat the seafood from the region. Curious as to why they would tell me this, I found out that the Chinese media reported the worsening state of nuclear contamination in Japan that resulted from the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster. Those reports included unsupported claims presented along with photos of mutant animals and plants that were suggested to have been affected by nuclear radiation in Fukushima. However, this misinformation was not able to manipulate public opinion for long as it had been proven the photos of the deformed animals to have been fake.  As having been personally affected by the repercussions of this misinformations proliferation, I became interested in nuclear pollution, and produced a game about nuclear radioactivity in Tokyo.

The game I adapted, “Fruit Ninja”, has been very popular outside of Japan. For me, this popularity coincided with the stereotypes of Japan for foreign tourists. People are passionate about travelling to Tokyo, and this enthusiasm is like the challenges in the game I designed: how many of them actually cared about the ecosystem of Japan due to nuclear radioactivity, other than in the news?

Nimyu, N-Ja (2017). 4 channels HD video (color, sound). Image courtesy of the artist.

N-Ja installation. HB.Nezu. Image courtesy of the artist and gallery.

The second work is called The Stylistic Contact Point in Consciousness. I was inspired by the definition of "East" discussed in the exhibition. For ancient China, Central Asia was known as the Western Region. The Silk Road during the Han Dynasty connected East Asia to Central Asia, West Asia, Europe and the Mediterranean, and also had a great impact on the convergence of cultures and information. The prototype of my painting comes from the shape of a traditional wine jug in ancient China. I have superimposed and transformed its original shape. I chose this as a starting point for two reasons: first, because it finds its cultural and esthetic roots in both the Middle East and East Asia. And second, because from an art historical perspective, the unique shape characteristic of Eastern art is the curved line (as seen in traditional  paintings and in religious sculptures), which is perfectly represented in this wine vessel. I superimposed the bottle symmetrically to further emphasize the merging of cultures and arts within the East. Finally, I restricted the function of a jug by modifying its shape - there is no opening for pouring in one and no handling in another. So as to think about the input and output of information in the contemporary world.

Nimyu, The Stylistic Contact Point in Consciousness. Image courtesy of the artist. 

The Stylistic Contact Point in Consciousness installation. BLOCK HOUSE. Image courtesy of the artist and gallery. 


“There’s a saying in Chinese: “Reading thousands of books is not equal to traveling thousands of miles.” It’s a metaphor for knowledge and experience, to show the dialectical relationship between study and practice.” 



S.W.: What do you think of traveling and migration? Does traveling make an artist better-rounded? 

N.: There’s a saying in Chinese: “Reading thousands of books is not equal to traveling thousands of miles.” It’s a metaphor for knowledge and experience, to show the dialectical relationship between study and practice. If one cannot see the authentic work of art, it’s difficult to get the essence of it. For visual artists, seeing and observing are absolutely crucial. “Art comes from life” – different cultures, different aesthetics, even different city landscapes are naturally reflected in the artist’s work. Travelling or migration can change one’s way of seeing things. For example, you acquire a more objective view of a city or country when you get to know it from both inside and outside perspectives. This is particularly important for understanding places where there is a lot of information censorship and control.

Nimyu, Notre-Dame de Paris (2019). Digital Collage. Image courtesy of the artist.


“In Knowledge Fruit and Palm Leaves, we created works by reconsidering the meaning of identity through the society, history, customs, stories, and groups surrounding us.”



S.W.: Important point. Finally, I heard about your most recent show opening in Tokyo’s Clear Gallery. Could you give us more information about it?

N.: My new show, Knowledge Fruit and Palm Leaves, is in collaboration with one of my favorite artists, Tat Ito. It opened on August 27th at Clear Gallery Tokyo and will be on view until September 25th. In this exhibition, I exhibit a series of associative works that use sexual motifs to suggest information that is intentionally hidden and not openly discussed or shared with others, which vaguely reminds the audience of the book Decameron. (Sometimes nicknamed “the Human Comedy”, Decameron is a collection of novellas by the 14th-century Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio. The book tells 100 tales told by a group of young women and young men: they shelter in a secluded villa just outside Florence in order to escape the Black Death, which was afflicting the city.) The topics addressed in my painting series include privilege, feminism, gender, identity and consumerism. The mocking and carnivalesque comedic features of my art are reminiscent of the contemporary Decameron, which exhibit a strong humanist undertone.

Coming from Japan and China respectively, Ito and I have been exposed to art in cultures different from our own. In Knowledge Fruit and Palm Leaves, we created works by reconsidering the meaning of identity through the society, history, customs, stories, and groups surrounding us. In this exhibition, the works exhibited draw our affinity with modern media, culture, and information as well as with the allegorical nature of mythological and historical books, developed in our own unique interpretations.

Knowledge Fruit and Palm Leaves, installation photos. Clear Gallery Tokyo. Image courtesy of the artists and gallery.


“Travelling or migration can change one’s way of seeing things.”



Favorite airport:

Haneda Airport

Biggest role model:

Édouard Manet

A song trapped in your head:

Obaa Sima by Ata Kak

Favorite Sneaker:

Adidas FYW S-97

An artist in your mind right now:

Sarah Sze

Your favorite word in Japanese:

ジワジワ

And in English? 

Art

Your favorite app: 

微信读书

Favorite magazine:

Sometimes Times, sometimes Vice

What is your favorite outfit?

T-shirt + Suit Jacket + Sneakers

Who would you want to grab popcorn with?

Man Ray



Nimyu @nimyu.art
Sherry Wu @sherryyy.w