Spotlight: Japanese Artist Yosuke Amemiya’s Site-Specific Work Finds New Life Through Virtual Reality

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What You Need to Know: Japanese artist Yosuke Amemiya (b. 1975) has a multimedia artistic practice that spans painting, sculpture, installation, and performance—and often a combination of these within the same piece. The everyday and human connection are core themes that Amemiya consistently returns to in his work; representations of the quotidian are shown with slight deviations to heighten awareness, both of the self and those around us. In 2021, Amemiya created , a site-specific multimedia installation shown at the Art-Reborn Festival in Ishinomaki, Japan. Though the installation cannot be physically recreated, it is still the focus of Amemiya’s current solo show, “Certainly, Chawan (a bowl) and Wanchan (doggy) are completely different things, but some days not so much,” at Snow Contemporary, Tokyo. The exhibition features 30 of Amemiya’s illustrated manuscripts for , as well as a special VR installation that allows viewers to experience the piece virtually.

Why We Like It: As is common in Amemiya’s practice, is a multilayered work both materially and conceptually. Created for the first edition of the Reborn-Art Festival, it marked the 10th anniversary of the East Japan Earthquake as well as the one-year mark of the Covid-19 outbreak. The work contemplates both the past and the future through the lens of these two major events, while making meta-references to other works in Amemiya’s oeuvre. The complex themes and ideas in are recorded in manuscripts on display, which are at once notes and musings on the production of the piece as well as whimsical and creative illustrations—and often the writing and drawing cannot be extracted from the another. And although the VR viewing of does not allow viewers the exact experience of the site-specific work, it offers a much broader audience the opportunity to engage with a new iteration of the piece, connecting them with the emotional and intellectual elements of the work.

According to the Gallery: “ is a very complex work that reflects the complicated situation we are experiencing during the outbreak of Covid-19, 10 years after the Great East Japan Earthquake. This work is impossible to be recreated anywhere else because of the composition of Amemiya’s performance; his obsession with text; the specificity and universality he contemplates through his apple sculptures; his reckless valor to accept and celebrate the world; his consideration towards the world after and before him and perspective on the present day which were acquired through the 1,300 Years project; the theme of Reborn-Art Festival, ‘Altruism and Fluidity’; some accidents; and the work’s synchronicity and compatibility. With that said, however, I realized that these elements were all presented in the ‘manuscripts’ and came up with an idea to show these as an exhibition.”

See Yosuke Amemiya’s work and installation views of the exhibition below.

Installation view of “Certainly Chawan (a bowl) and Wanchan (doggy) are completely different things, but somedays not so much” at Snow Contemporary, Tokyo, 2022.

Installation view of "Ishinomaki Thirteen Minutes" VR Experience at Snow Contemporary, Tokyo, 2022.

Installation view of “Certainly Chawan (a bowl) and Wanchan (doggy) are completely different things, but somedays not so much” at Snow Contemporary, Tokyo, 2022.

Yosuke Amemiya, Manuscript for Ishinomaki 13 Minutes (2021/22). Courtesy of Snow Contemporary, Tokyo.

Yosuke Amemiya, Manuscript for (2021-22). Courtesy of Snow Contemporary, Tokyo.

Yosuke Amemiya, Ishinomaki Thirteen Minutes (2021-22); from the presentation at Reborn Art Festival. Courtesy of Snow Contemporary Art, Tokyo.

Yosuke Amemiya, (2021-22); from the presentation at Reborn Art Festival, Ishinomaki, Japan. Courtesy of Snow Contemporary, Tokyo.

Installation view of Yosuke Amemiya's Ishinomaki Thirteen Minutes (2021-22) at the Reborn-Art Festival.

Installation view of Yosuke Amemiya, (2021-22) at the Reborn-Art Festival, Ishinomaki, Japan. Courtesy Snow Contemporary, Tokyo.

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