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Sep 2, 2021 12:00 PM

Remembering Collective Memories and Art

An online interactive panel discussion, focusing on Yoshio Shirakawa’s current exhibition at Maruki Gallery for Hiroshima Panels in Japan.

Global attention on the Olympics in Japan has heightened awareness of the histories, and absences of histories, within cultural narratives surrounding the Games. For example, when the Mayor of Hiroshima asked the International Olympic Committee to observe a minute of silence on 6th August to commemorate the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, the request was refused. The IOC explained that their policy was to acknowledge this history in the closing ceremony. This reflects an attempt to systematically ‘manage’ collective cultural narratives under the glare of the Olympic spotlight.

For many people in Japan, lives are still shaped by these hushed histories – many suffer from memories of the past and struggle to face and make sense of it. As global attention shifts away from Japan, these histories remain, unchanged and powerful.

Yoshio Shirakawa’s current exhibition explores the complex terrain of collective memory. Shirakawa’s work digs deep, asking difficult questions about the reality of Asia Pacific War, the atomic bombs that were dropped in Japan in 1945.

AAUK is inviting you to reflect on the complexities of these unfolding histories through panel discussion between Yoshio Shirakawa, Dr.Yoshitaka Mouri, and Kaori Homma. Chaired by Dr. Jessica Holtaway.


Profile of Contributors

Yoshio Shirakawa

Artist, Art Action UK 2020 Residency Award winner. Born in Fukuoka,1948. Lives and works in Gunma Prefecture. Shirakawa studied art and philosophy in France and Germany during the 1970s. In 1983, he returned to Japan and settled in Gumma. Undertaking a rigorous approach to issues around regional,marginal and minor communities, Shirakawa’s practice has been focused on the regeneration and revaluation of regional histories, cultures and economies —most notably exemplified in his “Basho – Gunma (Place / Gunma)” — away from the central where the dominant contemporary art trends are formed. The range of his activities are regarded as a precursor to today’s multiculturalist and participatory practices. Shirakawa has conducted research and authored numerous writings on contemporary art history, constantly developing criticism and revaluation of the dominant historical views and discourses.


Dr. Yoshitaka Mori

Mōri is a sociologist, cultural commentator, writer based in Tokyo. Professor of Graduate School of Global Arts at Tokyo University of Arts. He is a co-founder of Art Action UK.

His current research include Pre-Post Olympic Studies, Towards New Theories of Media and Culture in the Post-Media Era: A Comparative Study of Creative Industries in the UK and Japan, and Political Public sphere and nationalism in age of Digital Media. His recent papers includes, Lukewarm Nationalism: The 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Social Media andAffective Communities (International Journal of Japanese Sociology, 2019), Toward a New Media Theory (Designing Media Ecology 2018), New Collectivism, Participation and Politics after the East Japan Great Earthquake (World Art, Routledge / Taylor & Francis, 2015).


Dr. Jessica Holtaway

Jessica Holtaway is lecturer at Solent University. Her research centers on politically-engaged artworks and performances. Her book ‘World-Forming and Contemporary Art’ was published earlier this year by Routledge and explores performances, curatorial practices and institutional practices through reflectionson the philosophy of Jean-Luc Nancy.


Kaori Homma

An artist originally from Japan, based in London, exhibiting in UK and internationally. Homma is a co-founder of Art Action UK, a platform for artists' creative and critical responses to global crisis. She is also an Associate Lecturer at CSM and CCW at University of Arts London. Homma’s works are in both public and private collections, and has been awarded Parker Harris Award 2017,  Aqua Zero Award, Spain 2012, International Drawing Award, Budapest 2010, British Women Artists, 2010. Focus of Homma’s practices are on the liminal space between east and west and ephemeral notionof its boundaries.