Parallax Trading 

10 April – 18 May 2019 / das weisse haus, Vienna, Austria

Eva Engelbert, Yuki Higashino, Yukari Inoue, Nathalie Koger, mamoru, Michikazu Matsune, Ralo Mayer, Fuyuka Shindo, Kanako Tada and Anna Witt

© - Joanna Pianka


The group exhibition Parallax Trading presents artists based in Austria and Japan whose practices examines the formation of cultural identity, invisible boundaries, and social frameworks such as nationality, race, and gender. Using various mediums including video, photography, installation, and performance, the artists explore the current social situations by interweaving historical fragments to create a potential new narrative, trace the personal stories and memory of a place, and transform existing structures to seek new forms of expression. In doing so, the exhibition unfolds various aspects of relationality that have been shaped through the turbulence of modern history. On the one hand, an imagination of the unknown creates a fantasy, myth, or stereotype, on the other, the imagination allows us to undo dominant norms and to retell stories, ultimately to generate multiple interpretations. The transmission of narratives and knowledge keeps our perspectives vibrant and dynamic.

The title of the exhibition refers metaphorically to diplomatic relations. Trading has been constructing the complexities of today’s world by circulating capitals - commodities, labour, as well as knowledge. In the backdrop of the world of migration, cultural identification may no longer be articulated through such nation states. Diverse individuals and groups coexist within society, and dynamics of cultural encounters shape the multiple identities of a place. However, a normative production of knowledge repeatedly creates a subjective filter that attempts to identify any kinds of groups. With such changing constructs, how can we communicate with each other, and how can we stand on common ground?

Collecting, archiving, categorizing, and thus standardizing are fundamental processes of knowledge production. Nathalie Koger’s work is an artistic investigation of the medical archive in Vienna, seeking an alternative conception of physicality and in particular, healing bodies within Western and non-Western ritual and mythic beliefs. Fuyuka Shindo creates a fictive collection of indigenous culture of northern Japan, questioning the act of collecting everyday materials as well as the concept of ethnicity as a subject of academic research. Eva Engelbert examines the fantasy of “distance,” the mechanism of identification, and the memory of place, juxtaposing the dynamic changes of the urban landscape in Vienna. In addition to dealing with institutional collections and international codes of standardization, the artists in this exhibition also explore how objects such as crafts, artworks, commodities and novels are agents of knowledge transmission. Yuki Higashino questions a style in art history by reinterpreting canonical forms in conjunction with the correlation between the West and Japan. The meandering text introduced by Ralo Mayer attempts to trace the travel history of Japanese candles across time and space, and their entanglement with the cultural and economic relations of institutional protagonists. Michikazu Matsune unfolds the complex linkages of individuals and society in the 20th century through a legendary fragrance, novels and iconic figures in films. In doing so, he raises questions around the ambivalence between cultural appropriation and racial discrimination to rethink anew a unification beyond borders. The migration of things, however, is not only a modern or contemporary phenomena. Inspired by the imaginary depiction of Japan illustrated in a 17th century Dutch geography book, mamoru’s ongoing series narrates new possible stories by interweaving history of the deportation in Japan to Dutch trading posts in Asia. Yukari Inoue stages oppressed female voices in Japan and Korea, whose lives have been swayed by deeply rooted antagonism. While Yukari questions women’s roles in patriarchal societies, Anna Witt instead highlights invisible bodies in ageing society. Her work scrutinises individuals within social systems, through a performative intervention in public space, which is choreographed based on the daily experiences of migrant nurses in dementia care in Japan’s shrinking city. In her paintings, Kanako Tada deconstructs and transforms existing motifs into abstractions through her repetitive act of imitating forms. Such a process encompasses the act of redoing the gaze of the other, yet it embraces the potential horizon to stand on common ground. Together through the combination of various artistic practices, the exhibition looks at different geopolitical situations to challenge our perceptions and thus allow us to imagine how it can be otherwise.

curated by Miwa Negoro (Curator in Residence, studio das weisse haus)


CLOSING EVENT: 18 May 2018

2pm Tour with curator Miwa Negoro

3pm Lecture performance The Tower, the Expo, the Bureau, the Echo by Ralo Mayer

Ralo Mayer presents multi-layered narratives that connect seemingly unconnected elements in history. In autumn 2018 he went to Japan to look for the tower of the EXPO'70 in Osaka. The tower is to be regarded as a source of inspiration for an ecological spaceship in Saturn's orbit conserving Earth’s last trees. The tower had disappeared, but he came across a few other things: objects sent to Vienna to build the nation of Japan, or a miraculous device called Space Echo. In his lecture performance, he explores this issue and deals with a cycle of space and time that is constantly reorganizing itself, as well as serendipity as an element of artistic research.

4pm Screenings:

kimi no yo | Time goes by (2017) by Bontaro Dokuyama

Dokuyama interviews elderly people in Taiwan who experienced their childhoods under the Japanese colonial rule. The artist asks particularly how they remember Japanese songs and Imperial Rescript on Education, revealing how such a regime is embedded on one’s body and memory through a mode of songs, per se national anthem. The work raises the questions around historical amnesia, tracing the colonial wounds that remain under the surface. (24’58’’, Japanese and Chinese with English subtitles)

Anak Anak Negeri Matahari Terbit -Children from the Land of the Rising Sun- (2018) by Mei Homma

Mei Homma’s essay film traces a story of Japanese women who were trafficked in the late 19th and early 20th century to Southeast Asia. The work juxtaposes the reality of the female sex workers and the mythicized perception of Japanese women, both of which were shaped by the rising international position of Japan. Introducing the renowned Indonesian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s sharp observation on Japan and a girl Maiko, a Japanese prostitute, Homma’s work highlights the forgotten bodies in the migration stories. ( 28’00’’, Japanese and Indonesian with English subtitles)

5:30pm Lecture performance Art of Japanese Bowing/ Suspended on A Historic Bowing/and something more from the series a long listening journey of a Possible thiStory especially of Japanese & Dutch & something more by mamoru in collaboration with So Oishi (DJ)

mamoru’s ongoing research project is inspired by a Dutch geography book (1669) that consists of many illustrations and stories of Japan based on collective information and imagination. The project takes the imaginary Japanese history as one of the "possible" histories and grafts them onto the contemporary ones, especially onto minor histories. Navigating through the trading posts that VOC (Dutch East Indian Company) once established, the artist explores the unexpected transmissions of cultural behavior. Combining various elements of images, texts, languages and sounds, the lecture performance suggests a polyphonic, or perhaps cacophonic, narration of stories.


© 2019 miwanegoro