ITTAH

 

 

YODA



I think mango you say salmon, 2016, Annka Kultys Gallery, Installation vew

 

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You like this idea to be totally in love, 2017, studio installation view

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOWNESS: The exhibition is about the feeling of constant flux, how did you go about
illustrating this idea?
VI: We wanted to give a sense of lightness to the hanging fabric because it moves in response to the air or to the people passing next to it, as if it was adapting itself constantly in relation to its environment, a bit like Kai and me. NOWNESS: How does the work interact with the space?

KY: I try to make the work as empty as possible in a way, so there is always some space for the viewer to fill, and in this way, it cannot exist by itself, but needs the viewer to complete itself.

NOWNESS: How did you come to collaborate?
VI: We shared this feeling of constant otherness and wandering through our mixed cultural and ethnic identities. Naturally, we felt the best way to do this was to express our issues and feelings through the artworks themselves.

KY: We were both interested in the movement and the expression rather than the surface and structure of the face and human body. I always had this fantasy of making work as a unit. I saw pictures of fashion photographer duo, Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, and wondered how could two people take photos of one person at the same time. I like the idea of duality and not having a single dominant ego that repeats its signature style work.

For the theme of their second exhibition together, Walking on the beach imitating sand, installation artist Kai Yoda and sculptor Virgile Ittah drew on their identities as migrant nationals. Working initially as an assistant for Yoda, Paris-born Ittah (who is of Jewish North African decent) began to produce and exhibit work alongside the Swedish-Japanese artist; “Our work looked so different so we had no idea that we shared the same interest about inbetween-ness identity” Yoda recalls, “I quickly found out that I was looking for a tutor rather then an assistant.”

February, 2015

 

 

 

 

ITTAH YODA
INFO@ITTAHYODA.COM

Ittah Yoda is an artist duo by Virgile Ittah b.1981 in Paris, and Kai Yoda b.1982 in Tokyo.
They work exclusively as a duo since July 2015 as Ittah Yoda in between Berlin, Luberon, and London.


Solo Exhibitions

2016     I think mango you say salmon, Annka Kultys Gallery, London    
2015     Walking on the beach imitating sand, Hus Gallery, London         
2014     HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU, Lychee One Gallery, London        

Group Exhibitions
2017     Post - Living Room, Shibuya Hikarie 8/ Cube 1.2.3, Tokyo       : cur  Sprout Curation + Tomio Koyama    22.Sep - 1.Oct
2017     TBA, Haggeston Park, Future Studio + ANDOR Gallery, London       : cur  George Unsworth      
2017     SQUISHY: eels swim in snakey, Julius, Berlin      : cur  Àngels Miralda       
2017     Lightness, White Rainbow Gallery, London            
2017     Still Fuzz, Windows16 Gallery, online       
2016     Off to Mahoganny, Rye Lane, London        : cur  Canan Batur (Clearview.ltd)
2016     Suggest The Shape of The Wind, Nam Project, Milan
2016     Aujourd'hui je dis oui, Galeria Boavista, Lisbon                    
2015     What is a bird? We simply don’t know, Nicodim Gallery, Bucharest        : cur  Domenico de Chirico
2015     Future can wait, B1 Victoria House, London
2014     In The Flesh, OBS Gallery, Kent
2013     The Open West, Cheltenham Museum, Cheltenham  

Press
2017    Schön! Magazine  interview I ittah yoda  by Daisy Schofield
2017    Sleek Magazine 15 Must-See exhibitions at Gallery Weekend 2017  by Sarah Lafer
2016    Tique art paper   Six questions: Ittah Yoda  by Charlotte Boeyden
2016     Art Asia Pacific   I think mango you say salmon  by Ambika Rajgopal
2016     Mousse Magazine   I think mango you say salmon 
2016     1 Grannary   Ittah Yoda and the Ying and Yang of the artist collaboration, by Aric Miller
2016     After Nyne Magazine   Ittah Yoda | Artist at play in the studio, by Laura Frances Green
2016     El Pais   A quién benefician las exposiciones solo para mujeres?, by Cristina Belda + Erika Astudillo
2015     AQNB   What is a bird?... @Nicodim  by Eva Folks
2015     Art Viewer   What is a bird? We simply don’t know at Nicodim Gallery
2014     We find wildness   Here’s Looking at you, by Sophoie Yerly

Residencies/ Grants/ Awards
2018     ISCP, NYC
2017     LCN, SPACE, London
2012     1 Year Program of Overseas Study for Upcoming Artists, Agency of Cultural Affairs, Bunka-cho, Japan 

Education
2011-13   MFA, Royal College of Art, London

 


I think mango you say salmon #II (detail), 2015
sport mesh fabric, polyester fabric, nylon fabric, silk fabric, gel transfer medium,
acrylic, powder coated aluminium, silicone
135 x 107 x 17 cm

 

 

 

 

Easy One, 2016
nylon fabric, polyester fabric, silicone
powder coated steel, neodymium magnets
260 x 183 x 17 cm

 

                           

I think mango you say salmon #I , 2015
sport mesh fabric, polyester fabric, gel transfer medium
acrylic, powder coated aluminium, silicone
135 x 107 x 17 cm

 

 

Toyota, 2016
Polyurethane foam, colorant, silicone
40 x 75 x 20 cm

Ishin, 2017
polyproplene, resin, polyester, photochromic
pigment carbon, dye sublimation print
84 x 65 x 15 cm

 

I think mango you say salmon, 2015, studio installation view
Incriment #II, 2015
silicone, colorant, sand
123 x 112 x 9 cm
Incriment #I, 2015
silicone, colorant, sand
123 x 112 x 9 cm

Stereo, 2017
polyester, photochromic pigment, gel transfer medium
silicone, acrylic frame, dye sublimation print
29 x 21 x 9.5 cm

Hentai, 2017
polyester, gel transfer medium, acrylic frame, photochromic pigment
carbon, dye sublimation print, propolyplene
55 x 45 x 9.5 cm

 

 

My butt is outside, 2017
polypropylene, silicone, photochromic pigment
steel, dye sublimation print, polyester
154 x 94 x 19 cm

 

 

 

How has the fusion of your divergent cultural backgrounds (Yoda is originally from Tokyo, and Ittah from Paris) influenced the appearance of your work?

Historically and geographically, our cultural backgrounds are very different from one another. As a result, our work may be perceived by the public as coming from nowhere (or everywhere) with no specific cultural visual identity. Our work provokes confusion in the mind of the viewer through the disappearance of boundaries. We like to play with identity through constant instability in matter, colour, and shape. It’s a lot about letting go, losing control, forgetting preconceived ideas, historical affirmations, and accepting a new beginning.

How would you describe your dynamic as two individual artists creating work together, and does the collaborative process play out?

Our dynamic can be perceived in our work; it feels as though two forces attracting and repelling each other in order to gain a peaceful, silent balance. Confrontation, critique, and opposition of ideas are constant in the process of our collaboration. There is a continuous process of learning through collaboration in order to abandon the ego for the benefit of a collective idea. The only time we agree is when feel that the work is finished, which is very fortunate, because without that it would be impossible to work together.

Computer software is now like a third person in our collaborative. Machines, like human beings, make errors. We wonder when machines with deeper learning will start machines, and whether there will still be errors. With the Internet and A.I. technology, we may soon go beyond our individual bodies, and be bodiless. Maybe that will feel like freedom.

 

 

 

 

Your art blurs the boundary between sculpture, installation and painting. How would you define your artworks?

In the last decade, boundaries between art departments have been dissolving. We feel our work is a prolongation of this, and that claiming to belong to one unique aspect no longer makes sense.

We are more interested in the experience of the viewer, with our artworks as an active medium, constantly communicating with the public.

We like to make three-dimensional things because that’s how we experience the world, and we like to learn from our own experience of the work. Sometimes it is very strange; it’s as though the work belongs to either of us. It has its own life.

You use a wide range of materials, from metal, marble, wax and silicone. What’s the significance behind this?

We are interested in using new materials and processes in our practice such as silicone, photochromic pigment, carbon, and 3D printing, CNC process, and A.I. This allows us to create a new form of visual and material identity where the viewer can experience new feelings through the different senses of sight and touch.

In using these new types of process and material, we feel our work is closer to organic systems. For instance, the shapes of our work are rounder and welcoming. Silicone is recurrent in our work: it’s a material which is used medically when inserted into the human body. We feel very close to Animist philosophy where humans are part of a whole, and believe that humans can be associated freely to new material and technology without being threatened.

We like to mix various materials together because we like to be surprised and feel uncertain about the work. We also use materials in ways that contradict the purpose of their design. For example, silicone is normally used for making a mould of something, but we use it as a final piece. It’s a lot of trial and error, and often the error leads to a new work or becomes the final piece instead of the initial plan we had.The pastel colours are also linked to the velvety aspect of some of our work, as sense of touch is something very important to us. It’s a symbol of our desire, allowing us to communicate with the viewer rather than just stating our identity or a specific message. We like using pastel colour because it’s almost an off white, or a hue, rather than a specific colour. It can shift as easily as the weather.

Words / Daisy Schofield for Schön! Magazine - April.2017

 


 

 

Ittah Yoda is an artist duo consisting of Virgile Ittah and Kai Yoda. Their first solo show together as a collective, ‘I Say Mango, You Say Salmon,’ is currently on view at Annka Kultys Gallery in Bethnal Green, London. This title reflects both the colour palette they use, as well as the challenges of communicating within the duo’s relationship, which is a partnership in both art and life. Japanese-born Yoda and French-born Ittah come from vastly different backgrounds, yet these seemingly opposite personalities complement each other and find harmony, not unlike the Yin Yang. The pair’s work incorporates both Japanese and French sensibilities, bringing to mind the 19th century Japanese influence on French culture known as Japonisme. Having met while attending the Royal College of Art, the two now share a studio and a home in South London. We spoke with them over tea about their work new show, what drives their collaboration and the challenge that is finding a balance in such a relationship.

“WE MADE THE WORK TO HAVE THE VIEWER AS THE FOCAL POINT. TO CREATE AN EXPERIENCE.”

I first visited Ittah Yoda’s studio in Peckham with gallerist Annka Kultys, who had first shared their work with me online. The images on their website did little justice to viewing it in-person. Upon arrival, I was immediately struck by the three-dimensionality of what they describe as ‘wall pieces,’ which I had assumed were paintings. They consist of layers of transparent mesh fabric, separated by aluminium frames, each of different colours and painted not with brushes, but with squeegees and gel transfers — techniques more common to silk-screening. Some pieces have thick applications of silicone, adding to their sculptural quality. All are in pastel colours: shades of salmon, beige and lilac. A small detail is left unfinished in each of them, a decision that mirrors the Japanese Wabi-sabi philosophy of beauty, which celebrates the imperfect and incomplete.
In their new show, these wall pieces  are accented by several sculptures, a mobile and two lounge chairs where visitors can sit, relax and enjoy the view. The installation creates a soothing and elegant atmosphere that requires to be experienced in person to be fully appreciated — quite the demand in the age of the Internet.
The movement of the viewer within the space takes central importance in the exhibition. Kai says they “made the work to have the viewer as the focal point. To create an experience.” As such, the work is difficult to communicate through photographs. “You have to be in the space and spend some time with the work,” he explains. Virgile adds that they “tried to develop the notion of position and materiality to give an experience to people, and not just an object.” It is with this in mind that they put the loungers in the gallery, to invite people to really let go and experience the work.

“THROUGH MAKING ARTWORKS, THERE IS AN ULTIMATE DESIRE TO BE ACCEPTED AND LOVED.”

Previous to their combined identity as Ittah Yoda, the duo had several shows as Virgile Ittah and Kai Yoda, where much of the work was produced separately. After a group exhibition at Nicodim Gallery in Bucharest in 2015, the curator advised them that there just isn’t enough time to work together as well as separately.

 

 

 

Collaboration is not without obstacles, especially when eccentric and divergent personalities come together, but this pair seems to somehow find the right balance: they have a small fight once a day, and a big fight every couple of weeks. Kai explains that “while in many ways we are different, in many ways we are similar. We both have similar traumas, and similar triggers. We both feel like we don’t belong where we grew up.” This gives a comfort in each other they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Virgile grew up in France, with a Tunisian and Moroccan heritage, and struggled to feel fully accepted in French society. Similarly, Kai’s Japanese and Swedish background left him feeling partly rejected from Japanese society. “Through making artworks, there is an ultimate desire to be accepted and loved,” they both say.
At first, it was difficult for them to find a routine, and sharing both a studio and a home means they can be together for up to 24 hours a day, with the inherent risk of driving each other crazy. So they established a rule: they wouldn’t spend more than two to four hours together in the studio per day. Virgile will come in the morning and Kai will come in the evening, with a couple hours of overlap. “Normally we both have headphones on, and we won’t talk to each other,” says Kai.

Virgile precises that “our nature is not made to follow a routine and we love unexpected things.” Spontaneity is indeed central to their work. Working as a duo also allows them more freedom to express themselves and try new things without fear. “When I’m working by myself I’m like ‘this is so scary’, and I become more protective of my work.” But as a duo, “they don’t see me as an individual who made it, so I feel less afraid. This feeling of ultimate freedom is quite amazing.” The pair has also become much more open to influences than before their partnership. “We are very inspired by things we see online and Facebook, of other artists, so I think the work is very much of this time,” they explain.

Within this strong collaborative process, authorship also gets confused. “Sometimes we think we are copying each other’s work, but in the end we don’t know whose idea it is.” says Kai, adding: “I don’t feel like our work is really my work… sometimes I think it’s more her work or more my work, but it’s really neither.”
This ambiguity of authorship and identity seems quite contemporary, and is reflected in the unclear gender and ethnicity of the name Ittah Yoda. They seem to indicate a movement towards a society in which the need to have a well-defined and fixed identity is less important, a tendency assisted in part by the internet’s social and networked cultures. “Things are changing,” explains Kai, “and the pace of change is getting faster.”
“Maybe we are continuing this collaboration because we thought that on our own we wouldn’t have made enough good, relevant or strong work, whereas together we can strike a perfect balance,” the duo concludes.

Words by Aric Miller, March 2016 for 1 Grannary Magazine

 

Body without organs, 2017
polyester, spandex, gel transfer medium
acrylic, acrylic frame, carbon, photochromic pigment
27 x 53 x 13.5 cm

 

 

 


Walking on the beach immitating sand, 2015, Hus Gallery, installation view

 

HERE’S LOOKING AT YOU

In one of the images I have been sent I can see the bust of a woman. Her face seems to be turned towards a piece of
cloth, a towel of stiened chamois leather, or a soft canvas, that hangs on the wall. It remains almost invisible to me,
but her hair, assembled into a small heap, suggests that she is not a loose woman. She knows what she wants without
being selsh, without projecting only her own image onto the screen in front of her. She wants to look at something
intently. She wants to take it seriously. Or she wants the screen to make her dream, but not frivolously. She wants to
look out the window. It is only a white bust, a neck and a head emerging out of a malleable mass of wax, perhaps even
carved out of marble, with a strange protuberance on the upper part of the gure’s back that the artist has not
removed and that resembles the stump of an oddly placed wing, like the central engine on an MD11. The other object
is only a white surface, perhaps the remainder of a faded photograph, or a sculpture of a photograph. What if she were
sitting in a plane, as I am right now, ying over the sunny landscape of the South of France in early autumn? She
remembers a day she spent in Aix a few years ago and looks forward to a short trip to the surroundings of Arles in two
weeks time. I hope she will forgive me for indulging a pun. Now that I have begun to study her, the name Aix suggests
to me the French word for peace, paix. May I call her Arlette? On the one hand, she invites me to imagine a scene,
though she would recoil almost imperceptibly if I were so tactless as to make a scene and thereby ll the space and
the time that stretch between us. This is not the bust of a woman who makes, or before whom one makes, a scene. Yet
an installation – and here two artists working together, a sculptor and a photographer, have installed a female bust
opposite a sheet that has been loosely attached to a partition in a gallery – is always the imagination of a scene, and
that’s why I tend to nd installations so tiresome. Installations turn correspondences into a heavy and bulky matter
because they make them their main business. They are too embedded in the politics of meaning. On the other hand, she is so quiet, so present and so withdrawn, that she eortlessly undoes anything that would remind me of an instal-
lation, of the willful and theatrical arrangement of elements charged with meaning and meant to create even more meaning. On the one hand, on the other hand – a bust has no hands, so she does not know what I am talking about,
and why should she care in the rst place? I cannot tire her out, no matter what I do or say. The lecher is a stalker, the
lover belongs to the people who say good-bye. Why, I have fallen in love with her!

- Alexander García Düttmann

 

 

 

HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU, 2014, Lychee One Gallery, installation view