“American Boyfriend: Banners”
Yutaka Kikutake Gallery and void+ are pleased to present Futoshi Miyagi’s solo exhibition “American Boyfriend: Portraits and Banners,” which will take place concurrently across two venues.
Titled “American Boyfriend: Banners,” the presentation at Yutaka Kikutake Gallery from September 27 to October 22 will introduce new works from the American Boyfriend project consisting of photographs and video, as well as banners embroidered with text, which the artist has used as a key motif. Initiated in 2012, this on-going project can indeed be described as the artist’s lifework. Starting from personal outputs in the form of blog entries that intertwine his own background and experiences with events in history, it has continued to evolve into a diverse array of works that include photographs, videos, a novel, sculptures, and at times performances.
This project, now in its tenth year since its initiation, begun with the theme of the “possibility of an Okinawan man and an American man, possibly a soldier, falling in love in Okinawa.” Through referencing and citing literature, films and music from all eras, the intimate relationships of the characters depicted amid restrictions presented by history such as war and the social norms of that era, have been woven into countless fragmentary narratives. These narratives convey the various disassociations the artist has felt between himself and society, as a sexual minority in Okinawa where he was born and raised. Such are told in parallel to the history of post-war Japan and the United States, and the history of Okinawa, as a place that is positioned between the two.
In the new work presented in this exhibition, the embroidered texts on the "banners” resonate with the narratives conveyed through the photographs and video, shedding light on the relationships between the characters that “existed/may exist.” This is positioned as a sequel to the 2019 work In a Well-Lit Room: Dialogue between Two Characters ("Image Narratives: Literature in Japanese Contemporary Art,” The National Art Center, Tokyo). The conversation between the two men that appear in the video gradually interweaves the memories of various people, while gently connecting fragments of the "everyday life that may have been" that lies hidden in the history of Okinawa to the present. The conversation between the two, which is an exchange that takes place after the onset of the pandemic, introduces new developments to the narrative while touching upon issues the artist has communicated through the American Boyfriend project, as well as his previous works such as the photograph series Sight Seeing (2011-).
In his practice Futoshi Miyagi places importance on “tracing history and listening carefully to the small voices that are buried within." Through his own literary sensibilities, he contemplates the history that is ostensibly told and the everyday life that always lies in behind it, and in doing so, presents a slight hope against the social and political oppression in Okinawa that continues to this day, and suggests the universal and complex longing to traverse borders and distance in efforts to return to one’s home, and the rich relationships that may unfold there.
Born in 1981 in Okinawa, Futoshi Miyagi graduated with a BA in Arts from the City College of New York in 20005. His solo exhibitions include “In Order of Appearance” (miyagia ON THE CORNER, Okinawa, 2021) and “How Many Nights” (Gallery Koyanagi, 2017), while he has also taken part in group exhibitions such as “Tsubaki-kai 8: This New World” (Shiseido Gallery, Tokyo, 2021,2022) and “Countermeasures Against Awkward Discourses: From the Perspective of Third Wave Feminism” (21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, 2021). He has published Distant (Kawade Shobo Shinsha., Ltd., 2019), a novel based on his project American Boyfriend.
Miyagi is also involved as a staff member of the art book shop Utrecht (Tokyo) and serves as co-director of XYZ collective. The activities and the inspiration gained through these ventures are a part of Miyagi’s identity as an artist.
■Concurrent Exhibition: Futoshi Miyagi “American Boyfriend: Portraits”
Venue: void+ (1st Floor, 3-16-14 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0062)
Dates: September 27 (Tue) – October 29 (Sat), 2022
Opening Hours: 12:00-18:00
Closed: Sundays, Mondays, and National Holidays