7 December 2018 until 26 May 2019
Katja Stuke / Oliver Sieber
Reconsidering Photography: Japanese Lesson

As part of the exhibition series “Reconsidering Photography,” the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG) invited the artists Katja Stuke and Oliver Sieber to look for connections between their own work and historical images from MKG’s Photography and New Media Collection. Stuke and Sieber responded by selecting around 40 historical photographs and coloured woodcuts from MKG’s holdings, as well as a number of artist’s books, to show alongside twelve multi-part photographic and video works from their work complex Japanese Lesson. The two artists have been working on this extensive project since 2005, assuming a role as mediators between Japanese and German culture. Starting with a single video installation in which they express their fascination with Japan’s visual culture by way of a captivating stream of found material and their own images, the artists went on to engage with the East Asian country in a more and more differentiated fashion. Under the title Japanese Lesson, they have been investigating since 2011 various contemporary Japanese phenomena, delving into subcultures, activism, and protest movements, as well as the political landscapes of the cities of Tokyo and Osaka. Stuke’s and Sieber’s “Japanese Lesson” is thus to be understood not so much as a lesson for the viewer but rather as a description of their own working method and the artistic process. Through walks, observations, and encounters with the Japanese people, and by exposing themselves to daily life there with its subcultures, politics, art, and music, the artists are teaching themselves about Japan past and present, while also cultivating this experience of a foreign culture to gain fresh perspectives on their own home country.

Photo: Katja Stuke/Oliver Sieber (*1966), Nishinari, Osaka 2017, from: Japanese Lesson (Nishinari), © Katja Stuke/Oliver Sieber