Tom Milnes & Sabine Okami

Kioku

Accumulator Tower   |   Solo Exhibition   |   01.09.12 - 08.12.12

Kioku (Exterior view)
2012
Woodblock prints on paper, wood, cardboard, electric drills, audio, fluorescent tubes
3.5 x 7 x 16m
Photo: George Torode
© Tom Milnes and Sabine Okami
Kioku (Installation view)
2012
Woodblock prints on paper, wood, cardboard, electric drills, audio, fluorescent tubes
3.5 x 7 x 16m
Photo: George Torode
© Tom Milnes and Sabine Okami
Kioku (Installation view)
2012
Woodblock prints on paper, wood, cardboard, electric drills, audio, fluorescent tubes
3.5 x 7 x 16m
Photo: George Torode
© Tom Milnes and Sabine Okami
Kioku (Installation view - detail)
2012
Woodblock prints on paper, wood, cardboard, electric drills, audio, fluorescent tubes
3.5 x 7 x 16m
Photo: George Torode
© Tom Milnes and Sabine Okami
Karahimenta
2012
Woodblock print on cartridge paper
Edition of 10 + 2AP
Image size 125 x 180mm
Paper size 210 x 297mm
Yaki Soba
2012
Woodblock print on cartridge paper
Edition of 10 + 2AP
Image size 260 x 120mm
Paper size 210 x 297mm
Haihain
2012
Woodblock print on cartridge paper
Edition of 10 + 2AP
Image size 230 x 160mm
Paper size 210 x 297mm
Udon
2012
Woodblock print on cartridge paper
Edition of 10 + 2AP
Image size 150 x 200mm
Paper size 210 x 297mm
Nori Tamago
2012
Woodblock print on cartridge paper
Edition of 10 + 2AP
Image size 125 x 175mm
Paper size 210 x 297mm
Nori
2012
Woodblock print on cartridge paper
Edition of 10 + 2AP
Image size 170 x 120mm
Paper size 210 x 297mm

CHRISTIAN FERREIRA is pleased to present the first collaborative installation by British artists Tom Milnes & Sabine Okami in the Accumulator Tower at the Wapping Hydraulic Power Station. Titled, Kioku, this ambitious installation sees Milnes & Okami working with personal elements relating to emotional memories felt through disconnection.

The word kioku can be translated as both ‘memory’ and ‘storage’, though it is unlikely that the average London gallery-goer would be aware of this. Tom Milnes & Sabine Okami’s collaborative installation ‘Kioku’ is a shuddering (un)monument to memory, translation and distance – a collection of works, images, objects and histories on the verge of violent collapse.

When the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in 2011, Sabine Okami was, like many others with relatives in the country, unable to communicate with her grandparents in Japan. This abrupt severing of contact with an older familial generation became a hole, a vortex, a focal point for the artists’ evocations of distance, absence, commemoration and translation. The earthquake is posited as analogy not only for the collapse of a nation, of order, the loss of actual human lives, but also as a signifier of cultural, personal and geographical distance. Tōhoku becomes a locus for the persistence of trauma, the tear into narrative: the fracturing of memory storage shelves.

‘Kioku’ is a collection of woodcut prints on paper. The prints replicate the packaging of Japanese convenience food – like the word of the title, these prints are recognizable to the average western viewer only as foreign, as Eastern, Japanese (perhaps), but otherwise unspecific and untranslated; unreadable. These hand-cut reproductions are overlaid with simple line drawings from photographs of Okami’s family. These drawings of other people’s images – the photographs are culled from Okami’s parents and grandparents, they are their memories and not hers, from outside of her life or experience – blend into the packaging images; engendering a misrecognition in the viewer that replicates the artist’s own disconnect from her family and histories.

Despite its literal shaking and conceptual allusions to distance, alienation and a kind of floating, precarious identity; ‘Kioku’ is also grounded both in its location and materiality. Shunning the slick packaging and smooth photographic surfaces referenced by the work, Milnes and Okami cling stubbornly to a DIY aesthetic – painstakingly hand carving their woodcuts, building shelves from functional timber and messily folding their paper prints, which sit precariously in uneven rows. That they have built a warehouse of products towering devastatingly over the viewer is also a direct reference to the history of their site, with the Wapping Hydraulic Power Station sitting in the middle of an area whose function was, until recently, to provide warehouses for storage – a purpose quickly forgotten and a memory replaced with images of newness.

Tom Milnes & Sabine Okami’s ‘Kioku’ sits between Japan and London, past and present, between family history and the memories of an area, between the handmade and the mass-produced – a terrible failed monument to globalization and natural entropy, disaster, forgetting.