Artist Talk: Blue Passages by Shino Yanai


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

Date: 26 September 2016
Venue: Daiwa Foundation Japan House, 13/14 Cornwall Terrace, London NW1 4QP UK
Tel: 020 7486 4348 Fax: 020 7486 2914
Organiser: Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation

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