Fabricated torch which was used for the Yanai's border crossing performance in 1930's cabinet.
Blue Passage featuring video, photography, and salvaged objects, the exhibition documents Yanai’s recent performance in which she followed the perilous mountain route between France and Spain that was made by the German Jewish philosopher Walter Benjamin in his doomed attempt to e
Beginning at sunrise on the beach of the French town, Banyuls-sur-Mer, Yanai lights an Olympic torch from a pile of burning books. Walking with the torch, she leaves the town and begins the winding ascent up the rocky path that leads to the mountain ridge that marks the border between France and Spain. Under a burning sun, Yanai descends into the Spanish town of Portbou, carrying her torch through ‘Passages’, Dani Karavan’s memorial to Walter Benjamin. As the sun sets, Yanai proceeds to the beach where a white boat awaits her.
The show focuses on ideas of migration, ethics, and personal and public history. It draws inspiration from Walter Benjamin’s life and from the works of Israeli sculptor Dani Karavan. Yanai’s performance expresses her distrust of the modern world and her anxieties about the concepts of race and nationhood. The flaming torch is a symbol of hope and a call for unity and peace.
Yanai says ‘Karavan’s monument comprises a series of steps which suggest the powerful connection between earth, sea and sky. From this work I realise the futility of war. My own struggles seem miniscule in stark contrast to the enormity of nature and the universe. When compared to a bigger presence, the conflict between men makes no sense at all.”
Similarly Yanai’s own biography informs her practice; born to Korean parents, Yanai took Japanese nationality at the age of twenty. For Yanai, this changing of nationality made her question the construction of identities and perceived notions of nationhood and was an influential factor in her realizing this project.
Shino Yanai studied MFA in Japanese Painting at Tama Art University, 2010, MA, Inter Media Art at Tokyo University of the Arts (2012). Selected exhibitions and awards include Resistance against the Anticipated War at SNOW Contemporary, Tokyo (2014), Brave New World - re-enchanting utopia at Aomori Museum of Art (2013), WHAT WE SEE at The National Museum of Art, Osaka (2013) Grant from the POLA Art Foundation (2014-2015), Yuka Uematsu Prize (2012), Art Award Tokyo Marunouchi (2012).