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b. 1965, Japan

Tomoko Yoneda Biography

In her photographs Tomoko Yoneda compresses multiple layers of history into a single image. She is perhaps best known for her project Scene, for which she visited former sites of conflict around the world, photographing them in their current, innocuous states while fully cognizant of their past significance, which she relates to viewers through titles that provide a frame for viewing and responding to the resulting images. The effect of this is to heighten every detail in each image, to give every last bench or shrub or building in the image the same importance as the whole, creating a telescopic relationship between the eyes of the people who participated in the referenced historical events, and the eyes of the photographer through to the eyes of the viewers.

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The strong element of research and investigation behind all of Yoneda's work is significant. "I had thought that I would be a journalist," she explained, "but my father was an amateur photographer and although I initially felt that photography would be too technical, I realized that I could communicate just as much through images as through words." Yoneda's personal connections to recent history have also exerted a strong influence on her creation of images investigating the idea of different viewpoints. "I was born in Japan in 1965, and so the stories that my parents told me of their experiences of the Second World War, such as being evacuated to the countryside as children, would be similar to those told by parents of my generation growing up in the West," she says. "And seeing an exhibition in Japan about Anne Frank when I was around the same age she was when she wrote her diary also had a great impact on me and my perception of the recent past."

Yoneda studied photography in Chicago and then at the RCA in London; she graduated in 1991. And in 1996 it was in East London where she made her first series of images that explored layers of history and memory, titled Topographical Analogy. Photographing rooms in empty tower blocks that were awaiting demolition, Yoneda focused on the patches of peeling paper and stains made on the walls over the years by emissions rising from the rooms' heaters—abstract traces of the lives of past occupants. "When I initially began photographing these spaces, I introduced other objects into the images, like a crumpled carpet or a painting on an easel, but then I realized that they weren't needed and that what I really wanted to investigate were bigger memories or moments."

Tomoko Yoneda Featured Artworks

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Tomoko Yoneda Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Tomoko Yoneda, Dialogue with A.C. at ShugoArts, Tokyo
13 April–25 May 2019 Tomoko Yoneda Dialogue with A.C. ShugoArtsTokyo
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, ShugoArts Show at ShugoArts, Tokyo
10 February–31 March 2018 Group Exhibition ShugoArts Show ShugoArtsTokyo

Tomoko Yoneda Represented By

ShugoArts contemporary art gallery in Tokyo, Japan ShugoArts Tokyo

Tomoko Yoneda In Ocula Magazine

Gwangju Biennale: Burning Down The House Ocula Feature Gwangju Biennale: Burning Down The House By Jeesun Park, Gwangju

Gwangju is only the sixth largest city in Korea but its history has become well-known to art audiences around the world through its provocative biennale, now a fixed event in the international art calendar. The Gwangju Biennale began twenty years ago specifically to commemorate the historic fight for democracy that took place in the city, known...

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Ghosts, Spies And Grandmothers At Mediacity Seoul 2014 Ocula Feature Ghosts, Spies And Grandmothers At Mediacity Seoul 2014 By Jeesun Park, Seoul

Much has already been said about the fast-paced development and break-neck modernization of Asia but what has been largely forgotten in these breathless accounts is the importance of its history. In order to understand contemporary Asia one needs to look into the past, look more closely at its regional diversity and draw connections to local...

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Mediacity Seoul 2014: Ghosts, Spies, And Grandmothers Ocula Feature Mediacity Seoul 2014: Ghosts, Spies, And Grandmothers By Becca Voelcker, Seoul

Since its foundation in 2000, Seoul’s contemporary art biennial, Mediacity, aims to represent the city’s identity as a hub of media and technology. With an exhibition on three floors of Seoul Museum of Art, and a programme of screenings in the Korean Film Museum, Mediacity surveys the current climate in art production, shifting its...

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Tomoko Yoneda In Related Press

'Tell Me a Story: Locality and Narrative': 11 stories from Asia at Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai Related Press 'Tell Me a Story: Locality and Narrative': 11 stories from Asia at Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai 1 July 2016, Art Radar Journal

Tell me a story sounds like a demand, but it is not a request for the truth. The exhibition is concerned with disrupting the narratives through which places are constituted. The choice of words is a warning too; this is not easy art with anecdotes and colourful locals, but art about how a change in perspective can produce a different territorial...

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Japan’s Nissan Art Award announces 2015 finalists Related Press Japan’s Nissan Art Award announces 2015 finalists 24 June 2015, Art Radar

On 17 June 2015, Japan’s Nissan Art Award announced its 2015 finalists. The seven artists represent a diverse group of emerging Japanese artists – from the animation of painter and film artist Takashi Ishida, to the sewn maps of Sayaka Akiyama and the sculptural works of Takahiro Iwasaki. The seven artists will be producing new...

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