The largest piece in the show, They are still alive in the both cities (2012), offers a symbolic gateway—in the form of a palm tree—into Takemura’s investigations. As palms migrated from their desert homes into international film sets and furniture motifs, they came to signify paradise and, more figuratively, exoticism and colonialism. Here, Takemura engages these connotations by halving two different types of palms, and then piecing them together as a hybridized whole.
One half of the composition depicts a tree adjacent to Takemura’s family home in Nagoya. The other represents its Los Angeles foil. Surprisingly—especially in the case of L.A.—palms are not native to either city. A story of migration and appropriation emerges. The wall-size composite is printed in black and white, encouraging the two distinct photographs to fuse, further confusing the palm tree’s provenance. On top of the image, Takemura adds colorful embroidered fronds of her own design. Her intervention calls to mind the loaded horticultural term “escaped exotics,” used to describe invasive, non-native plants.