Multiverse: Fujiko Nakaya & Media Ecologies

Jenny Sutela, “Milky Ways”, Still Image









“Fujiko Nakaya. Nebel Leben” survey exhibition concludes with a one-day symposium aiming to tackle, discuss and share her essential contribution to a renewed understanding of art history from an array of different perspectives. Nakaya’s exploratory and collaborative approach to art, technology and ecology has created a multiverse of ideas that resonate today with urgent questions about our interconnectedness with the environment. The symposium features screenings, presentations and conversations with international scholars, museum curators and artists whose diverse contributions branch out into Nakaya’s multiverse and create new connections to her networked thinking and visionary art practice.

Inaugurated by the sculpture HMO Nutrix (2022) commissioned to the artist Jenna Sutela, the symposium is embedded in the event “Technobodies” – a long weekend of public programs conceived in collaboration with our local partners Lenbachhaus and Museum Brandhorst to coincide with their exhibitions.

10.30 am
Welcome and Introduction
Andrea Lissoni, Artistic Director Haus der Kunst and Exhibition Curator
Peter Anders, Director Goethe-Institut Tokyo
Sarah Johanna Theurer, Curator Haus der Kunst and Exhibition Curator

11 am
Iwanami Films
Panel, moderated by Haden Guest
Dr. Haden Guest, Director Harvard Film Archive and Senior Lecturer on Art, Film, and Visual Studies
Dr. Takuya Tsunoda, Assistant Professor of Japanese Film and Media, Columbia University
Go Hirasawa, Film Curator and Researcher, Meiji Gakuin University

Iwanami Productions was a film production company founded by Ukichiro Nakaya in 1950, specializing in educational and scientific films in biology, chemistry, entomology, and public health. Until today, the multifocal work of her father is an important inspiration to Fujiko Nakaya. Using new cinematographic and narrative techniques, as well as a focus on the subjectivity of the depicted characters, Iwanami shaped a distinct style that influenced not only the active postwar Japanese film scene, but also international documentary filmmaking.

12.15 pm

12.30 pm
Milky Ways
Artist Talk, Video Screening (Premiere)
Jenna Sutela, Artist; in conversation with Sarah Johanna Theurer

Sutela introduces her research-based practice that builds on ideas about interconnectedness in the spirit of Fujiko Nakaya. Exemplified by the sculpture HMO Nutrix, 2022, on view at Haus der Kunst, and the premier of her science poetic audiovisual work Milky Ways, 2022 Sutela will speak about involving micro-organisms in her working process. Inspired by among others astrobiology and hydrofeminism, which understands human bodies as connected to the natural world through water, Sutela’s art reflects on our deep entanglement with the environment and each other.

2.15 pm
Architecture and Atmosphere
Artist Talk
Philippe Rahm, Architect

In his talk, Rahm shows how complex the interplay between weather and architecture is. Nakaya’s fog landscapes create spatial conditions that keep presence and absence in constant interplay and establish a dialogical relationship with form–both bodies and architectural elements. Through his notion of architecture as the design of atmosphere, Rahm reveals a new approach to Nakaya’s work and our built environment.

3 pm
Media Ecologies
Panel, moderated by Sarah Johanna Theurer
Prof. Dr. Dieter Daniels, Professor of Art History and Media Theory Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig
Prof. Dr. Mi You, Professor of Art and Economies at University of Kassel and the documenta Institute
Ariana Dongus, PhD Candidate of Art Studies and Media Philosophy at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design
Dr. Anne-Marie Duguet, Art Critic and Curator

The conversation focuses on Nakaya’s networked thinking – from early TV networks to global digital networks. Building on notions of media ecologies and elemental media and along the work of Fujiko Nakaya, this panel develops an idea of technology that is not separate from nature, humans, and organic matter.

4.30 pm
Cloud Studies
Artist Talk
Helmut Völter, Artist; with an introduction by Sarah Johanna Theurer

Designer and artist Helmut Völter introduces the history of scientific cloud photography. The talk focuses on the dual character of scientific images as rational evidence and aesthetic object, as it is introduced in the exhibition “Nebel Leben” through the materials of the physicist and father of the artist, Ukichiro Nakaya. Through the examination of the cloud studies of Japanese researcher/artist Masano Abe, Völter develops a particular and new perspective on the cloud in media, art and science.


5.30 pm
Sensitive Environments
Panel, moderated by Andrea Lissoni
Catherine Wood, Director of Programme, Tate Modern
Hiroko Tasaka, Curator Tokyo Photographic Art Museum and Yebisu International Festival for Art & Alternative Visions
Dr. Michelle Kuo, Curator Museum of Modern Art

The conversation focuses on the multidimensional perception of Nakaya’s fog sculptures. The curators who have all worked with the artist in the past will share their experiences and contextualize them beyond canonical art histories.

“Fujiko Nakaya. Multiverse” is curated by Sarah Johanna Theurer and Andrea Lissoni.