#6 In conversation with Spew

by Unseen September 16 2017

Spew is a Japan-based artist collective comprised of artists Daisuke Yokota, Naohiro Utagawa and Koji Kitagawa. The collective’s ideology is rooted in looking at photography ‘beyond the frame’, and each artist makes a point to actively engage in activities that push the boundaries of the medium. At Unseen Amsterdam 2017, Spew is developing and performing a production for the Onsite Project Para/site, presented by G/P Gallery.

In this feature, we talk to the collective about what inspires their practice, and what compelled them to develop a platform for collaborative projects as opposed to solo work.

When did you first become interested in photography?
Somewhere between 10 and 20 years ago.

Why did you feel the need to form a collective?
With a collective, you can accomplish things you wouldn’t be able to do on your own. It’s similar to going on a vacation alone: it’s nice, but it’s also nice to travel with friends and have fun together.

Your work pushes the limits of photography to new extremes. What do you think the future holds for the photographic medium?
No one can predict the future, but we feel very tied to the now. Modernity was made possible with technology, technical developments and the revival of old school techniques, but we find this all looks boring. We think the things that are not organised or understood are what is important now.

Are there any specific photographers or performance artists from Japan who have influenced your practice?
We have so many influences that it is impossible to name just one.

What comes first – photography or the idea for a performance? How do these play into one another?
We never separate our photography and our performance – they are equal. We first take action, and then we photograph it. The resulting images can act as a record or an art work. When we do something, it can be a play or a performance. It all comes from a simple idea, so we are not trying to break up our work.

What are the main differences between working as a solo artist vs. working with others in a collective?
Solo projects are about organising and presenting a number of your works at the same time. When you work as a group, it is very important to accept confusion and difference. We like to work in a way that focuses on the result, whatever it may be, rather than making a definitive plan before we even start. In this sense, working alone vs. working with others is completely a different practice.

Find out more about PARA/SITE here

Photo: EW, 2017 © Hirose Hiro/G/P gallery