Artist Talk: Blue Passages by Shino Yanai

26 Sep 2016

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The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation

London, United Kingdom


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  • Buses: 2, 13, 18, 27, 30, 74, 82, 113, 139, 189 and 274
  • Tube: Baker St.
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Blue Passages documents Shino Yanai’s recent performance featuring video, photography, and salvaged objects. 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 escape the Nazis in 1940.


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.


Yanai will discuss ideas of migration, ethics and personal and public history in relation to her new exhibition, Blue Passages.  It draws inspiration from Benjamin’s life and from the works of Israeli sculptor Dani Karavan. The artist’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. This talk will be led by Dr. Jonathan Whitehall, an artist and writer who has worked on the themes of Benjamin, history and the traumatic.


Yanai’s 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 realising this project.


Shino Yanai’s Exhibition Blue Passages will be exhibited at White Conduit Projects from 11 September to 15 October 2016.

1 White Conduit Projects, London N1 9EL, nearest station Angel.

Shino Yanai is an artist who works on installation using photography, video and sound. She studied Japanese Painting at Tama Art University 2010 before going on to graduate with an MA in Inter-Media Art at Tokyo University of the Arts in 2012. Selected exhibitions and awards include: Resistance against the Anticipated War, SNOW Contemporary, Tokyo (2014); Brave New World - re-enchanting utopia, Aomori Museum of Art (2013); WHAT WE SEE, The National Museum of Art, Osaka (2013). She has received various awards and prizes, including a grant from the POLA Art Foundation (2014-2015), the Yuka Uematsu Prize (2012) and the Art Award Tokyo Marunouchi (2012). She will begin a Photography course at the Royal College of Art in October 2016.

Dr. Jonathan Whitehall is a British artist who trained at Goldsmiths, University of Leeds and has a Fine Art PhD from the Royal College. Jonathan has shown his video, film and photography work in London, Paris, Dublin, Essen, Boston, Lucerne and Dusseldorf. His essay 'L'image menace' is to be published shortly in the Routledge journal Photographies. Jonathan has taught at LCC, Westminster, Middlesex, and UCA Maidstone and Rochester. 

Exhibiting artistsToggle

Shino Yanai

Jonathan Whitehall

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