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Jess Johnson: Worlds Within Worlds Ocula Conversation Jess Johnson: Worlds Within Worlds

Geometric patterns, anthropomorphic characters, architectural spatial environments, and relics of the ancient world appear throughout Jess Johnson's artworks.Johnson's solo art-ventures began in drawing, but her long-term collaborative relationship with animator Simon Ward brings her drawings to life in videos and virtual reality. The animator has...

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Melati Suryodarmo: Performance Art as Trigger Ocula Conversation Melati Suryodarmo: Performance Art as Trigger

In 2012, Melati Suryodarmo opened Studio Plesungan in her native Surakarta, also known as Solo, the historic royal capital of the Mataram Empire of Java in Indonesia. Suryodarmo had returned to Indonesia from Germany, where she studied Butoh and choreography with Butoh dancer and choreographer Anzu Furukawa, time-based media with avantgarde...

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Lagos Biennial 2019: Stories from Africa’s most Populous City Ocula Report Lagos Biennial 2019: Stories from Africa’s most Populous City 15 Nov 2019 : Jareh Das for Ocula

Under the direction of Folakunle Oshun, the second edition of the Lagos Biennial (26 October–23 November 2019) includes works by over 40 Lagos-based and international artists, architects, and collectives. Curated by architect Tosin Oshinowo, curator and producer Oyindamola Fakeye, and assistant curator of photography at the Art Institute of...

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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough Ocula Insight | Video
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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough 15 October 2019

Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy.Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...

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Akira the Hustler

b. 1969, Japan

Born in Tokyo in 1969. Akira the Hustler received his BA in 1992 and his MA in 1995, both in oil painting from Kyoto City University of Arts.

Akira the Hustler is a visual artist whose work ranges from performance art to sculpting. While his training is in painting, his work takes on a myriad of forms that often attempt to depict the alternative or the extraordinary as common and ordinary. He infuses his work with aspects of his private life. He shoots videos of his boyfriend and the people around him, but also considers social and political issues in his art, such as the use of nuclear power.

In 2003, the artist started the “Living Together Project,” addressing HIV and its presence in everyone’s lives as an existent reality. It gives voice to the struggles of HIV-positive individuals who cannot share this truth with the people around them. The project also urges others who have never had the opportunity to think about HIV to consider the lives of people directly affected by it; but not as lives filled with difficulties, but as lives similar to everyone else’s.

His exhibition “Ordinary Life” (2012) encourages his audience to acknowledge the consequences of the March 11th nuclear accident in Fukushima (2011), and to incorporate such consciousness into daily life. The clay statues displayed in this exhibition—from a teenager with a skateboard and a father holding his baby, to naked men embracing each other—act out everyday scenes, but some of them hold placards and wear T-shirts proclaiming, “No Nukes!” All of the clay figures have red string tied around their hands, representing their shared reality of March 11th that binds everyone together. Through this exhibition, Akira conveys his aim to blur the lines between what is ordinary and what is extraordinary, by incorporating a conspicuous, prominent activity like protesting into daily, unremarkable scenes that are as common as holding a baby, riding on a skateboard, or making love.

Akira the Hustler has held numerous solo exhibitions at Ota Fine Arts in Tokyo, and his selected group exhibitions include "Donaiyanen" at l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris (1998), "Game Over" at the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2000), "Suddenly Inclusive" (performance) at Kunst Werk, Berlin (2003), "PostGender: Gender Identity, Performativity and Sexuality in Japanese Culture" at the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art, Haifa, Israel (2005), "Life" at Art Tower Mito, Japan (2006), and "Love’s Body-art in the age of AIDS" at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (2010).

Public collections:
Collection Lambert, Avignon, France
Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan

Text by Makiko Arima

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