photo ©︎ Atsushi Yukutake
How did you get into making art?
I was born and raised in Hasami, Japan, a small town in the mountains. My dad loves wood crafting, fermenting, and farming. I enjoyed making some of my own toys out of firewood as a kid, working by the side of my dad will he was making Japanese flutes, spoons and knives, etc. My hometown is well known for its thriving ceramic industry. There was a pottery-making class in primary and middle school, which I really enjoyed while I was a student. Looking back, I was immersed in a creative environment at home, school and even on the playground, and these experiences led me to studying architecture in undergrad. However, my entry point to art came after I encountered many natural disasters. I realized this planet is breathing and has a beating heart, just like us. I gradually shifted to look at our relationship with nature and began by studying Japanese gardens rather than architecture. To explore a broader approach, I incorporated my research and interest into my art practice. The dialogue with people at postgrad made my art practice wider and deeper.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve been making new work for an upcoming exhibition along with other sculptural works. The first is a series of photographic sculptures intended to interact with natural light, gravity and wind over time. As the natural elements fluctuate, the viewer’s experience of the work changes over time, depending on the specifics of the moment. My work takes on a variety of forms and approaches, but I consistently maintain a subtext of three fundamental channels, which are transition/ activation/ transformation. As I have a background of study in architecture and Japanese gardens, I do not consider a work complete even after I have made the final gesture as my process is constantly evolving. My recent practice is centered on the interplay between natural systems and people rather than focusing on creating an appreciation of singular object.
I realized this planet is breathing and has a beating heart, just like us.
What inspired you to get started on this body of work?
My art practice cannot be described without natural systems. When I start a new project, there are no rules at the beginning. The initial impetus for a new work or new direction most often comes from experiences in my daily life. The work grows out of such experiences as brewing tea and coffee, cleaning spits of oil, a letter from city hall, cycling on the way to my studio, taking a shower, etc. When I start thinking deeper about some of these systems and mechanisms beyond just a passing interest, something clicks in my mind, and the experience evolves into an inspiration.
Do you work on distinct projects or do you take a broader approach to your practice?
I take a broader approach. I start each new work from a different angle and employ a number of methods in my practice. I think the act of climbing a mountain is an apt metaphor for how I work. There are many different paths one can take to reach the summit, but each path ultimately leads to the same destination. One can think of the mountain as a distinct project, while the many paths to get there represent the breadth of my approach.
What’s a typical day like in your studio?
I always begin a studio session with a good coffee. I normally start each day with some office work like mailing, filing, and placing orders in the morning at my home. Then I head to my studio in the afternoon. Every work requires its own unique approach and I currently have multiple works in production. So, basically, every day I work in the studio, but it is difficult to describe a typical day as each project requires a specific method of working. Sometimes I take a walk to shoot photos, other days I might be working on my laptop all day, or spending a lot of time absorbing ongoing work, or possibly doing some research, testing, learning something new. My studio time is very diverse.
Who are your favorite artists?
Friedensreich Hundertwasser lead me to the art world when I saw his architecture. Hans Haacke and Andy Goldsworthy got me hooked on the systems of our world. I appreciate the all-time fun of Ragnar Kjartansson and Julian Hetzel. And of course, the work of my pal Yussef Agbo-Ola.
Where do you go to discover new artists?
I go to galleries and museums sometimes by appointment in this peculiar time, and I have a great network of creative friends. The SPRING and IMPAKT festival which are both Utrecht based international performance and media art festival are great opportunity to see new artists and works. I enjoy taking part in those events every year.
Akihiro Boujoh is an artist based in Utrecht, the Netherlands who recently won The Hopper Prize. To learn more about the artist: