A screening and talk with the artist Gaku Tsutaja on her recent video work Beautiful Sky Golf Course, part of her ongoing World War II Club series. Based on archival research conducted during Tsujata’s onsite residency in 2019, the film focused on the Fort Missoula Alien Detention Camp in Missoula, Montana where male members of the Issei (first generation Japanese immigrants) were detained during World War II without their families. These detainees were arrested following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and transported to Montana for Loyalty Hearings intended to root out “dangerous alien enemies”.
A short excerpt of the video is available to view below, as well as the full video of the July 16th discussion of the film and Tsutaja’s larger project about the war, the nuclear bombing of 1945, and its aftermath. Guiding this discussion was Maika Pollack, Director and Chief Curator of the John Young Museum of Art and University Galleries at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. Pollack’s response helped contextualize Tsutaja’s project within a broader history of anti-Asian racism and modern and contemporary art on both sides of the Pacific Basin.
Gaku Tsutaja was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1974, and currently lives and works in Queens, NY. In 1999, Tsutaja obtained a BFA with honors from Tokyo Zokei University of Arts and Design, and served as a research fellow at the Center for Contemporary Art Kitakyusyu (CCA) in Fukuoka. Tsutaja moved to New York in 2005 and received her MFA from SUNY Purchase College, Purchase, NY, in 2018. Tsutaja creates research-oriented narrative-base works in various media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, and video performance, often utilizing her 2D and 3D works as the components in her video work. Tsutaja’s work has been recently exhibited at Shirley Fiterman Art Center at BMCC in New York, NY (2019, solo); Collar Works, Troy, NY (2019); Gallery of Visual Arts, University of Montana, Missoula, MT (2019); and Equity Gallery in New York, NY (2018). Her solo exhibition Spider’s Thread is currently on view at Ulterior Gallery in NY until August 9, 2020. Tsutaja will be debuting a large-scale theater installation, with an accompanying video, in January 2021 at Rubin Center for Visual Arts in El Paso, TX.
Maika Pollack is the Director and Chief Curator of the John Young Museum of Art and University Galleries, and Assistant Professor of Art History in the Department of Art History, at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She was formerly based in New York, where she co-founded and directed the activist gallery SOUTHFIRST (2000-2017) curating dozens of exhibitions that were scholarly excavations of overlooked or obscure postwar and contemporary art. She serves as a Visual Art Consultant, State Foundation on Culture and the Arts AASC (Acquisition Award Selection Committee), State of Hawaii, and on the UH Manoa Campus CAAC Art Policy Steering Committee. She holds a PhD from Princeton University in modern European Art and has previously taught art history at Sarah Lawrence (2012-2018), Pratt, and NYU. She is a member of the AICA-USA and has written for publications including Aperture, The New York Times, BOMB Magazine, Artforum, Interview, and The Brooklyn Rail, among others, and served as the museum exhibitions critic for The New York Observer from 2011-2015. Upcoming exhibition projects include “Collective Publications: Networks, Collaborations and Resistances in/between Portugal and Brazil, 1960s and 70s,” with Tobi Maier and Rui Torres; and an exhibition with the artist Ken Okiishi.