Ishu Han

Solo Exhibition

still there

Saturday, September 7, 2019 - Saturday, October 5, 2019

Opening reception: 18:00 – 20:00, Saturday, September 7, 2019

Talk event: Ishu Han × Weiwei Wang (curator)
Saturday, September 21, 2019
Open at 17:30 / Start at 18:00 – approx. 20:00
Admission free: ¥1,000 – (1drink included) / Register here
*Registration required.
*Talk will be conducted with consecutive Japanese interpretation. (Translator: ChenRan Lily Ikeda)

Gallery hours : 11:00-18:00, 11:00-20:00 (Fri)

Quick Response
2019, Single channel video, 23min 27sec (loop)

© Ishu Han


ANOMALY is pleased to announce the upcoming solo exhibition “still there” by Ishu Han. The exhibition commence on September 7 and continue until October 5.

Born in Shanghai in 1987, Ishu Han moved to Japan’s Aomori Prefecture at age 9. He graduated from the Tokyo University of the Arts Graduate School with a degree in Intermedia Arts in 2012, and is currently based in Tokyo. Han earnestly explores doubts and questions that arise in the connection between society and the individual as viewed from the perspective of individuals as large as life, sometimes with a touch of wit. In his works, he uses his own body and everyday objects as well as various media including video, installations, photos, and paintings.

Han is an emerging artist who is attracting considerable attention inside and outside Japan. Thus far, he has participated in numerous exhibitions, including “Asia Anarchy Alliance” (Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei, 2014), “Whose game is it?” (Royal College of Art Gallery, London, 2015), “In the Wake – Japanese Photographers Respond to 3/11” (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2015, and the Japan Society, New York, 2016), “Sights and Sounds: Highlights” (Jewish Museum, New York, 2016), “The Drifting Thinker” (solo exhibition, MoCA Pavilion, Shanghai in 2017), “Cross Domain” (Suzhou Jinji Lake Art Museum, Suzhou, 2018), and “Opening the Art Center” (Mito Art Museum Contemporary Art Center, 2019). He was awarded a grant by the Asian Cultural Council (ACC) in fiscal 2014, and was selected for residency programs including the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP, New York, 2015) and Residency Unlimited (New York, 2015). He is one of the finalists for the Nissan Art Award 2020.

“Quick Response,” a work which Han newly produced for this exhibition, his first solo exhibition in two years, utilizes the technology behind QR codes, which were developed in Japan and experienced an explosive diffusion in China. In it, he converts the data of waves rolling to the shore into black and white pixels, which are then read to produce codes that are used in an attempt to access a different place.

This work was inspired by something Han actually saw on a recent visit to Shanghai, where he was born. Specifically, he encountered a sightless man playing the “erhu” (traditional two-stringed fiddle) on the street. Instead of seeking cash donations, the man had a QR code dangling from his neck. Passers-by simply scanned the code with their smartphones to give him a donation.

Technology that rapidly spread as a result of our pursuit of convenience ended up detaching part of the body from the site and creating an absence of body. Witnessing this scene, Han was faced with the time of his own absence due to separation from his hometown along with the flow of the changing times.

In Japan, there still exists land to which former residents have been unable to return since the Great East Japan Earthquake (zones where access is restricted due to contamination with radiation). Han’s new work titled “Removed Landscape” is a video of a wriggling black bag taken from the air. Within the bag, which appears to be blown about by the wind at first glance, is Han himself, rolling around. Known as “flexible container bags,” bags of this type are used for the collection and storage of soil contaminated with radioactive substances that scattered due to the catastrophe at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Workers cut away the top layer of soil that was part of the landscape which remains in the memories of people who used to live in the affected area, and put it into these bags. They are now in temporary storage in the affected area, and will eventually be hauled away to a place where they will be out of sight. Using his own body in alluding to the migration of soil and people that have been removed, Han continues to explore places that have become absent inside us.

In this exhibition, Han asks us how people perceive or imagine the memories of the place where they were born and raised, the environment that has changed during their separation, and the various absences in the interim, as well as how places that have become absent exist within us.


After a discussion in Mito, I head for Fukushima. Get off the Joban Expressway at the Hirono exit. Three middle school students are riding bicycles. I wonder how far I can go from here. Have not even collected any information beforehand, and am going to go as far as I can. Taking the coastal road, as far as possible. The sea is still not in sight much. No construction information for the roads displayed on the navigation system. Making detour after detour. Getting lost, and asking directions. Getting lost again.After going on like this for some time, I notice I am on the road that passes right by Fukushima Daini.After going a little north of that, I stop the car on a height, get out, and duck under a rope strung there.On the other side is a cliff. At the bottom, a sandy beach. I shoot the waves rolling to shore there. Where do the waves go from here? The world depends less on recognized presences and more on countless unrecognized absences.

Ishu Han
August 6, 2019


Please do not miss this solo exhibition by Ishu Han, who has been commanding even greater attention in recent years. It should be added that, around the same time as this exhibition, he will be participating in Tsushima Art Fantasia 2019 and the “Publicness of the Art Center – Phase II” exhibition at the Art Tower Mito Contemporary Art Gallery.



Removed Scenery, 2019, Video
© Ishu Han