Noguchi Resonances

As part of a digital residency at the Barbican, Noguchi: Resonances emerges as an ongoing collaborative exploration in response to Noguchi, an exhibition celebrating Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988). 

A starting point is his 1947 work, Bird’s Nest (Nesting), a delicate suspended piece made of simple everyday materials of construction such as wood dowels, paper, string, and so on, in contrast to his monumental sculptures of heavy stone hewn in immense scale. Although appearing make-shift and whimsical, the mobile speaks to the deep-seated longing for and anxiety for home, where home itself is at times fragile and contingent. 

From October to December, independent curator and researcher Annie Jael Kwan has invited artists, curators, and thinkers from across the UK and Global Asias to reflect together on the themes related to Noguchi’s artistic legacy, transnational lived experiences, and his voluntary internment at Poston in solidarity with Japanese Americans that were forcibly relocated and incarcerated during World War II in the USA. The digital residency also offers the opportunity to delve into the rich archives related to Noguchi’s artistic works, his many letters of correspondence, and photographic records of his travels. 

Like Noguchi’s Nest, the resonances of their voices intersect across epistolatory and conversational exchanges, experimental audio and moving image works to discuss together contemporary and critical issues regarding the practice of care, questions of land, belonging, emergence, and the challenges and joys of Asian solidarity in art and activism. Featuring contributions by Yarli Allison, Alexandra ChangYoungsook ChoiChong Li-ChuanGeorge ClarkRei HayamaMarci KwonAdriel LuisMing TiampoMika Maruyama and Nine Yamamoto-Masson

Image credits:

  1. Isamu Noguchi, Bird’s Nest (Nesting), 1947. Wood dowels, balsawood, paper, paint, tape. 16 3/4 x 18 x 13 in. (42.5 x 45.7 x 33 cm). The Noguchi Museum Archives, 00163. Photo: Kevin Noble. ©INFGM / ARS – DACS
  2. Radio Script of Program Presented by the Anti-Axis Committee over KFWB, Sunday, January 11, 1942, 6:45 p.m. “Fight for Freedom: The Japanese-Americans”. The Noguchi Museum Archives, MS_BIO_033_001. ©INFGM / ARS – DACS
  3. Hiroshima, Japan, 1950s. The Noguchi Museum Archives, 08846.2. Photo: Isamu Noguchi ©INFGM / ARS – DACS
  4. Isamu Noguchi’s childhood home in Japan, inscribed ‘Looking from the tea room at the old green garden’. The Noguchi Museum Archives, 06045 ©INFGM / ARS – DACS
  5. Isamu Noguchi in Nara with Saboro Hasegawa, Michio Noguchi, and other friends on his 1950 trip to Japan. The Noguchi Museum Archives, 06256. ©INFGM / ARS – DACS
  6. Isamu Noguchi studying models with Masatoshi Izumi in Mure, Japan, c. 1970s. The Noguchi Museum Archives, 03996. Photo: Michio Noguchi. ©INFGM / ARS – DACS

With much thanks to the Florence Ostende, Jon Astbury and David Lally at the Barbican Centre, and the Noguchi Museum.

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