New to ROM: Nao Uda, Words Fail Me, 2013-15

Posted: June 2, 2016 - 11:06 , by royal
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Photo of a pair of hands holding a handwritten book. The entry reads: Dear George, Words fail me. Yours truly, Kaye Uda.

Nao Uda, born in Yokohama in 1983, is a contemporary Japanese artist who works in drawings, photography, and paintings. Having received her BFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York City in 2007, Nao lived in Toronto as an artist in residence at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Center thanks to a fellowship provided by the Pola Art Foundation in 2014 and 2015. Nao has shown her works in Japan, the United States, Canada, and Taiwan.

Photo of red paper lanterns
Produced between 2013 and 2015, Words Fail Me consists of 45 photographs. The work is related to her grandfather, who was born in Vancouver in 1924 and left Canada permanently for Japan in July 1941, a few months before Pearl Harbour and the internment of Japanese immigrants thereafter. Her grandfather passed away when Nao was only six years old, but she tries to construct fictional memories of him through the photographs. The artist’s exploration of her grandfather’s history in Canada is motivated by the suicide of her Taiwanese-Japanese friend who suffered from identity issue. The artist’s interests thus lie in 20th history of immigration, diaspora, transcultural experiences, and cultural memories. 

Importantly, her work points to the history of Japanese immigration to Canada and their traumatic experiences during the Second World War, which is often marginalized, both in Japan and Canada. It is the first set of contemporary photographs taken by a Japanese artist to enter the ROM's collection and significantly complements and adds to the museum’s Japanese art collection of traditional, historical materials.

Photo of a family album