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Rie Nakajima
Rie Nakajima, photo by Greg Pope.

Rie Nakajima is one of the most experimental artists working in the UK

Fusing sculpture and sound, her artistic practice is open to chance and the influence of others, raising important questions about the definition of art. Nakajima makes pieces often in direct response to architectural space, using a combination of kinetic devices, musical instruments and found objects. Ikon’s exhibition consists entirely of new work and includes a number of performances in collaboration with other artists.

“I work/ communicate with architectural environments, and there is always something new to discover with sounds and objects. I would like to make the exhibition at Ikon flexible and open, with the potential to change and transform at any moment.” Born in Yokohama in 1976, Nakajima studied art history and aesthetics at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music (BA), sculpture at Chelsea College of Art and Design (BA) and Slade School of Fine art (MFA). Nakajima lives and works in London, and is very active especially in the area of sound art, for instance she often features in the programme for Cafe OTO, Dalston, where she has worked alongsi giesser, David Toop and Keiko Yamamoto.
Rie Nakajima’s 2014 exhibition at noshowspace, London, saw her work with a bric-a-brac assortment that might be found at a car boot sale: food tins, a disco ball, porcelain bowls, a whistle, ball bearings and a large yellow sponge. She attached electrical devices and motors to animate them, so they performed cycles of whirring, drumming or vibrating, or simply of slight shifts between movement and stillness.

In a similar vein, the artist has made a number of visits to Birmingham in preparation for her exhibition – short residencies at Ikon saw her gather found objects from the surrounding Brindleyplace estate whilst familiarising herself with the gallery architecture. She combined the objects, largely made from concrete and metal, to make new kinetic assemblages, vehicles for a sonic adventure, one with an unknown destination.
Improvisation is integral to Nakajima's artistic practice: “starting from where I know, ending up somewhere else”. Likewise, performance and collaboration are key and often take the form of experiments with small objects spread out on the floor, whereby she accumulates or subtracts sound by setting the objects in motion, picking them up and moving them around. In this way a material modesty is counterbalanced by a refreshingly free artistic proposition: “I would like to try to think/find a way to exhibit experiences I have had from music activities and rebuild/interpret the situation at the gallery space and reactivate the happenings applying kinetic movements and objects and with performances.” For Ikon, Nakajima has curated a series of free performances including her music project O YAMA O with Keiko Yamamoto which explores music with no genre. Nakajima will participate in all events, collaborating with artists such as Pierre Berthet, David Cunningham, Max Eastley, Akira Sakata, David Toop and Keiko Yamamoto.
Live performances:
Rie Nakajima Wednesday 21 March, 6.30-7.30pm – FREE, drop in Rie Nakajima makes a special performance at the opening of her new exhibition Cyclic.
David Cunningham and Rie Nakajima Wednesday 11 April, 5pm-late - FREE, drop in David Cunningham plays electric guitar, through a delay system which allows the notes played to recycle infinitely, overlapping in different rhythms and integrated within the similar process of Rie Nakajima’s installation. This event is a durational performance and visitors can drop in at any time.
O YAMA O
Saturday 21 April - FREE, drop in On board Slow Boat, Minerva Works, Warwick Bar, 158 Fazeley Street, Birmingham, Digbeth B5 5RS Rie Nakajima and Keiko Yamamoto, vocalist, artist and co-founder of Cafe OTO, London, perform together as O YAMA O. While Yamamoto sings, whispers, roars, walks and dances, Nakajima makes a soundscape of objects arranged and altered by hand. Part of Flatpack Film Festival Optical Soundprogramme.
Akira Sakata and Rie Nakajima  Tuesday 1 May, 7-8pm – FREE, booking essential ‘Living in a bubble’ is Japanese saxophonist Akira Sakata’s statement for his activity. Rie Nakajima performs with him for the first time outside Japan. I think this installation could be a very newly experienced sound world. - Akira Sakata David Toop and Rie Nakajima Tuesday 22 May, 6-8pm - FREE, booking essential David Toop and Rie Nakajima work collaboratively in the fields of time, cooking and flower arranging but there are no clocks, no food to eat, no flowers, only the assemblage of temporary architecture, the sculpting of materials and the awakening of hibernating beings. Pierre Berthet and Rie Nakajima, Dead Plants & Living Objects Sunday 3 June, 3-4pm – FREE, drop in Pierre Berthet and Rie Nakajima create various ways to vibrate things so that their acoustic shadows dance around: invisible air volumes that reshape constantly, move in the space, enter in the most secret places and inside ourselves.
Café OTO at Ikon Sunday 3 June, 7-9pm, £5, booking essential Yorks Café at Ikon Café OTO, the acclaimed home for creative new music based in Dalston, London, comes to Ikon for an evening of music to mark the end of Rie Nakajima’s exhibition. Book online at ikon-gallery.org or call the gallery on 0121 248 0708. All events take place at Ikon unless otherwise stated.
The exhibition is accompanied by a limited edition box, curated by Rie Nakajima. The edition will include contributions including writing, drawing and photography, from all participating artists: Pierre Berthet, David Cunningham, Max Eastley, Akira Sakata, David Toop and Keiko Yamamoto.
The exhibition is supported by the Japan Foundation and The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation.

About Mariangela Bognolo

Mariangela Bognolo
Critico, curatore, storico dell'arte, Direttore Artistico di radio Rete Top 95, Capo Dipartimento Beni Culturali CAD Sociale provincia di Venezia, Socio Onorario Benemerito dell'Associazione storico culturale e di spettacolo per la promozione turistica della Campania “ IL CASTELLO ”.

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