in Collaborations | 20 JAN 22
In Collaboration with Q/
In Collaboration with Q/

From Kyoto to ‘Kill Bill’, YAMAN’s ‘(UN)KEEPALL’ Examines Cultural Transmission as Distortion

The emerging artist’s work is the subject of a forthcoming short film commissioned by Frieze and Q/

in Collaborations | 20 JAN 22
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Following their collaboration with Frieze on the commission of artist P. Staff’s film Pure Means (2021), Q/ (@qcualityd) is pleased to present a global project by emerging, Kyoto and LA-based artist YAMAN. (UN)KEEPALL (1.0: 1.0, 1.0, 1.0, 1.0) 1.0 (2022) is a film completed through successive stages of public activation and documentation during 2020 and 2021. 

 The work is divided into five parts, each composed in different media including digital video, VHS,  and bleach bypass film stock, a format pioneered in early Japanese cinema. Throughout the project the artist published documentation and references to the ongoing production on Instagram, a method with links to the artist's earlier career in digital marketing.

Oni projected onto ‘Kill Bill chapel’, Lancaster, California
July 2021 - Oni projected onto ‘Kill Bill chapel’, Lancaster, California

Moving across 2,000 years of history, the film plays out ideas about distortion and cultural value through the image of Oni, a being from Japanese folklore associated with calamity such as plague. As both the bringer of plague, and the one who is prayed to in the hope of deliverance from it, YAMAN considers Oni in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic as a contradictory figure, utterly shrouded in distortion. As ‘the ultimate Other’, in the artist’s words, Oni also figures a ‘minority identity’, creating a dialogue with the wave of Anti-Asian hate which erupted in the wake of the pandemic.

 The product of long research into these dimensions of Oni, (UN)KEEPALL unfolds in a reflexive, durational process. A sculptural work comprising a two-metre high sculpture of Oni holding a rock, crafted by Myokei Matsumoto, and inspired by Korean artist Lee Ufan’s Relatum (1969), and ritual objects was installed by YAMAN in Hiunkaku, the Nishi Hongwanji temple in Kyoto. Footage of the installation in this charged space was then screened at three further sites, each resonating with themes of visibility, representation and cultural transmission: a major crossing in Shibuya, Tokyo; an historic cinema in Paris; and a chapel in Hi Vista, California, used in the filming of Quentin Tarantino’s 2003-4 opus Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2, selected by the artist as a symbol of the West’s uneasy embrace of Japanese tradition and Asian identity.

March 2021 - (UN)KEEPALL installation within Hiun-kaku pavilion at Nishi Hongwanji Temple, Kyoto, Japan
March 2021 - (UN)KEEPALL installation within Hiun-kaku pavilion at Nishi Hongwanji Temple, Kyoto, Japan

 Each screening event was itself captured footage which was itself incorporated into the following screening, forming a loop of exhibition, repetition, reflection and distortion. In this way, (UN)KEEPALL itself mirrors the mutating cultural meanings of Oni and conveys YAMAN’s concern with the role played by distortion in historical and cultural change - his belief that ‘Most of what we see in our lives’, in the artist’s words, ‘are distortions, mirrored images, shadows of something.’

 (UN)KEEPALL is commissioned by Q/ (@qcualityd), an artistic platform founded in 2020 in response to global events, which commissions artists and encourages artists to reconsider existing value structures. A short film about the making of the work and exploring its themes, produced by Frieze and commissioned by Q/, will premiere on Frieze channels in April 2022.

 YAMAN is an artist based in Kyoto, Japan and Los Angeles, USA. He studied chemistry at Kobe University, and began his career as a marketing strategist, working globally for leading fashion houses. Over the last decade, his work focused on adapting fast-changing social behaviours into the creation of original content. (UN)KEEPALL is his first major artistic project.