Manami Uetake – Imagining Something Unknown

Solo Exhibition, Installation

26.02.2020 2pm  - 29.02.2020 7pm

Between February 26th-29th, 2020 SomoS Arts Berlin presented the video installation Imagining Something Unknown, in which Japanese Artist Manami Uetake ponders the (im)possibility of conveying and remembering the Fukushima disaster.

Manami Uetake’s creative work deals with individual and collective trauma, and how its memory can be meaningfully processed, both privately and publicly, officially and unofficially, a challenge to commemoration culture at large, and a subject highly topical not only in Japan but in Germany as well.

Prior to working in Berlin winter 2019/20 in preparation of this exhibition, Uetake has been photographing monuments in disaster-stricken areas of Fukushima, as well as the private effects it had on the local population.

In her latest work, Imagining Something Unknown, Uetake deepens her inquiry, now especially focusing on the private ways trauma is processed and shared, its possibilities, but also its definite limits. Her installation of performative videos, conducted and filmed at SomoS, is based on a story of somebody losing their home in the Fukushima disaster. In the videos, the artist asked a random performer not deeply acquainted with the culture and the topic, to share their thoughts and feelings towards it in various media, to virtually put themselves in the victim’s situation, highlighting the challenges of conveying trauma and loss, and the quirks of memory and empathy.

As the artist states of her process and intention,

“Imagining Something Unknown” is a collaborative work aiming to imagine another person’s personal narrative.

One day, I met a man who lost his house after the Tsunami attack happened in 2011 Japan. After the Tsunami, great seawalls which are about 400km long in total were built alongside the coast, including his hometown. He told me that he lost not only his house, but also the landscape with a view of the sea. This phrase which never seen in the news articles or other public resources remained in my mind.
Since then, I often remember his story and have tried to imagine the lost landscape. I started wondering to what extent I could share his experience by listening to him.

Creating the work, I asked a non-Japanese speaker to read Japanese text written in the English alphabets about his experience and try to interpret it based on the sound of the text. I also asked him to imagine the landscape with a view of the sea mentioned in the sufferer’s monologue and draw it on a piece of paper.

Through this process, I tried to see how possible or impossible it is to imagine and reach the unknown person’s narrative.

Manami Uetake, Artist’s Statement

The video installation conveys the difficulty of recounting experience, demonstrating the loss that the process of reiteration may bring about. Viscerally making clear the devastating difference between presence and absence, the video installation constitutes a sensitive inquiry into the mechanisms of memory and empathy; of reality and its fleeting representation, of things here today and gone tomorrow.

Imagining Something Unknown presents us with a layered contemplation of memory and remembrance, socially, aesthetically and philosophically.

About Manami Uetake

Manami Uetake holds a M.A in Painting from Tokyo University of the Arts, Japan, 2018 and was a guest student at Chelsea College of the Arts in London, 2015. She has since focused on digital photography, video, text, and sound installation. Uetake has exhibited extensively throughout Tokyo, including her solo show Still Ongoing at TAP Gallery and the group exhibition Typhoon and Order at Gallery 35 minutes. She was also selected for the 13th “1_WALL” Photography award at Guardian Garden Gallery Tokyo in 2015 and was a finalist at the 17th “1_WALL” Photography award in 2017.
More information on Manami Uetake ->

Imagining Something Unknown
Solo Exhibition by Manami Uetake
Opening Reception: Tuesday, February 25th 6-9pm
Duration: February 26th-29th, 2020, Tuesday-Saturday 2-7pm (free entry)

SomoS Art House – Kottbusser Damm 95, 1.0G, 10967, Berlin (U8 – Schönleinstraße)
Facebook Event Page add to calendar