Ikon presents Siknure – Let me live, by Ainu artist and musician Mayunkiki. It is the first solo exhibition by an Ainu artist in the UK.
Born in Asahikawa, on the island of Hokkaidō in Japan, Mayunkiki’s artistic practice arises from her Indigenous identity. Through a variety of works, this exhibition conveys the predicament of her community in recent times. Like many Indigenous people, the Ainu have suffered systematic marginalisation by a central government and Mayunkiki is especially concerned to raise the profile of their traditional culture, including Sinuye (traditional tattooing practice for Ainu women, banned by the Hokkaidō Development Commission and not yet fully lifted) and Upopo (traditional Ainu music rooted in rhythmic patterns and singing in a trance-like chorus).
On the walls throughout the exhibition are a number of historical family photographs – to illustrate literally where Mayunkiki is coming from – and also handwritten observations, made by her. A new video work, commissioned by Ikon, is concerned with the relationship between the artist and her father who above all others insisted on her Indigenous identity. Another work is based on a small selection of Ainu artefacts, on loan from the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford. For Ikon, the existing (original) labels are replaced by extended captions written by Mayunkiki, to reflect her own experience and understandings.
This exhibition follows a number by Ikon featuring Indigenous women artists, including Meryl McMaster (Canada), Judy Watson and Yhonnie Scarce (Australia) and Britta Marakatt-Labba (Sweden).
The exhibition is supported by The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and The Japan Foundation.
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