Research Installation/ Photo-based Mixed Media Installation at MIRA FORUM, Porto, 2020
Yuki Jungesblut has spent 3 months as an artist in residence at MIRA FORUM. The point of departure for her research was the concept of Nanban – a Japanese word, originally meaning Southern barbarians, which later was used to designate the Portuguese (who were the first Europeans to arrive in Japan) and now has become more like a synonym for exotic/foreign/odd or simply the label for particular menus.
In a hypothetical reversal and time shift she set out to explore that foreign land called Portugal with Porto as her port of call. There she would listen out for echoes of Japan, search for stories, histories and crossovers between countries and centuries gone by.
In this exhibition she stages her ongoing research as a photo oriented mind space, drawing on everyday observations, cultural artefacts and an obvious delight in tracing the migration of forms, patterns and motives.
The Nanban Case
It is almost 5 centuries ago that a storm brought a group of Portuguese travelers to the shores of the island Tanegashima making them the first Europeans (officially) to have come to Japan. From this encounter until Japan’s self-isolation under the Sakoku policy grew a brief but vibrant history of trade and exchange, also called the Nanban trade period. Nowadays one of the most obvious mementos of this period are the Nanban folding screens, which so richly tell their own slightly fantastical tale of an encounter – the arrival of huge black ships and strangely clad people with long noses, pointy hats and voluminous trousers together with their precious freight, padres and many strange animals.
Details of a Nanban folding screen:
During her guest residency at MIRA FORUM Yuki Jungesblut took the Nanban period as a point of departure to explore the Porto of today and investigate traces, imaginations and echoes of Japan whilst at the same time also being in the situation of encountering a new land and people. With a particular interest in the everyday and in staged public spaces she spent her time exploring the notions of discovery, history, travel, the sea, the foreign and the exotic, believe and doubt and a range of emotions which might be related or not.
The exhibition now takes the appearance of a work in progress, of a set that is still in the making, secretly still on the move, an investigation that is not yet finished. “Murmerings” reframes a selection of the images that came about in the context of the residency, set into relation with each other through the prism of this “Nanban case”. Filling the former storage space that is now MIRA FORUM with a web of associations it juxtaposes images, which operate on a metaphorical level, with photographic notes of cultural crossovers, combines observations of the everyday with fantastic investigations of stones, strolls into botany, a collection of historical anecdotes and a selection of appropriated poems, which she encountered during her research, as well as a range of ready made objects and artefacts found.
Carriers of Memories/ Artefacts of/for Crossovers:
“Murmurings” reflects a longing for far away shores, not always sure what direction this longing takes. Where the past seems marvellous, yet obviously marred and the future uncertain, the little enchantments of that what is present might give some clue to temporary consolation and give rise to some optimist melancholy. Yet, through the echoes of that what might have been or what could have been, the ghosts of a story approach. A game of references in combination with strategies of obliqueness invites the visitors to play their own game of exploration, uncovering of traces, derivés and ponderings. And who knows, may be in this, at the distant horizon, the opportunity of curiosity awaits.
The residency was made possible thanks to MIRA FORUM, the people of MIRA and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
- Exploratory Project