Shimabuku / b. 1969, Japan / lives and works in Tokyo


The 5th Ural Biennial Main Project features the work:
«Exchange a Mobile Phone for a Stone Tool» (video, 2014)
Courtesy of the artist and Amanda Wilkinson Gallery, London


Shimabuku’s works are usually in the form of videos, installations, and photographic narratives about the places he visits and people he meets—they are full of the little marvels of everyday life. He brings a gentle humor and a quirky poetics into complex issues and difficult questions. While inviting a suspension of overly critical scrutiny, he seeks a pure kind of artistic wonder—without irony.

As the title articulates, the video installation is the documentation of an interactive but seemingly absurd activity the artist staged in Sapporo, Japan. He invited participants to temporarily swap their mobile phone with a stone tool and then carry the stone tool around to visit places where people used to live in Sapporo in ancient days. The project conveys an almost too simple but often neglected idea: how can we slow down our accelerated-by-technology modern life, pause, and enjoy nature and traditions? More importantly, this action questions the vision of a high-tech future as something deterministically more progressive. Plus the artist wittily reminds us that the pleasure of touching and carrying the stones tools around—once the most advanced technology humans had invented—to “the place where salmon once swam and to hear the sound of the river” might actually brings us more peace and joy. How can we judge what is better for us?