Lieko Shiga

RASEN KAIGAN: The Spiral Shore

11 Oct — 17 Nov 2013


Blind Folded Pilot, 2012

from the RASEN KAIGAN series


Portrait of Cultivation, 2012

from the RASEN KAIGAN series, 2012


Installation view

Photo credit Daegan Wells


Installation view

Photo credit Daegan Wells


Installation view

Photo credit Daegan Wells

Lieko Shiga has lived in Kitakama, a coastal village in North East Japan, since 2008. On entering this community she was given the role of village photographer, tasked with documenting the life and spaces of the area as a project distinct and coexistent to her own art practice. In 2011 a tsunami destroyed this small village and surviving in the aftermath, Shiga focused on gathering, preserving and returning over 30,000 photographs to the community as they gradually washed up on the shore, treating the photographic paper as a form of evidence to the devastating event.

RASEN KAIGAN: The Spiral Shore takes into account Shiga’s role as both village photographer and artist, including her own photographic works alongside a series of narratives that venture beyond her story, or that of the village, towards a more expansive understanding of photography as a space of ritual. Exhibiting sensitivity to the physical materiality of the photograph, there is also reflection on the space within the images that eludes this materiality and makes strange familiar understandings of time. The act of taking a photograph captures a moment of stationary time, something Shiga considers akin to a prayer, a fleeting pause in the passage of time. For her, time is never settled: “Taking a photograph is making a space that is no-time—not the past, not the present, not the future. The process of making this no-time space is like a ceremony for me. But I also know that I am courting time; I cannot run away from time. That's my life, my destiny.”

Curated by Laura Preston
Curator-at-Large, Adam Art Gallery, Victoria University of Wellington


Lieko Shiga (b.1980, Aichi, Japan) lives and works in Sendai. In 2004 she graduated from the Chelsea University of Art and Design, London with a BA in Fine Arts and New Media. Shiga has made four major photographic series, each developed through an embedded relationship to place. Her Canary series won the Infinity Award (Young Photographer) from the International Center of Photography, New York in 2009. Recent projects include: Lieko Shiga – Canary, Foam Museum, Amsterdam, 2013; Moving on Asia: Towards a New Art Network 2004-2013, City Gallery Wellington, 2013; Lieko Shiga RASEN KAIGAN, Sendai Mediatheque, Miyagi, Japan, 2012-2013; Creating with Light / The Manipulated Photograph, Tokyo Metropolitan Photography Museum, Tokyo, 2012; Double Vision: Contemporary Art from Japan, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow, 2012; Galerie Priska Pasquer, Cologne, Germany, 2011. Shiga has also published four books: Rasen Kaigan, Sendai Mediatheque, 2013; カナリア門, AKAAKAA Publishers, 2009; Canary, AKAAKA Publishers, 2007 and Lilly, Artbeat Publisher, 2007. 

A response to the exhibition by Laura Preston (pdf)