Dr James Jack is an artist concerned with rejuvenating fragile connections that exist in the world. He has developed socially engaged artworks for the Setouchi International Art Festival, Busan Biennale Sea Art Festival, Institute of Contemporary Art Singapore, Echigo-Tsumari Triennale and Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. His works on paper crafted with handmade pigments have been displayed at Kentler International Drawing Space, Cheryl Pelavin Fine Art, Sumi Gallery, the Asian-American Art Center and the Fukuoka Prefectural Art Museum. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at the Honolulu Museum of Art, TAMA Gallery (New York), Beppu-Wiarda Gallery (Portland), Donkey Mill Art Center (Hawai‘i), Portland Art Center, TMT Art Projects (Fukuoka) and Satoshi Koyama Gallery (Tokyo). Jack was a Crown Prince Akihito Scholar in Japan, completed a doctoral degree at Tokyo University of the Arts and was a Postdoctoral Artist Fellow at the Social Art Lab at Kyushu University before joining Yale-NUS College. In Singapore, his works have been exhibited at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Commaspace, ADM Gallery at NTU as well as the Institute for Contemporary Art.
Dr Jack’s artistic research concentrates on creative perspectives based on rich stories of sea and land in Asia Pacific. His artworks embody spirits of place that expand knowledge of human and more than human thinking today. These works tell us about the paradoxical condition of our present society in ways that are both analytical and suggestive. One of the purposes of Dr Jack’s research is to reconsider the complex relationships between art and society today. This is achieved not by investigating artworks as the subject of research as in conventional research, but through artwork practice that synthesises the research. The vibrant colours of society form the base that nourishes and informs this art practice.
Through ephemeral artworks, installation video and text-based works, Dr Jack is re-envisioning the connectedness of land, sea and daily life. The islands where he works have often been overlooked in the colonial gaze, bypassed in militarist desires or left behind in rapid globalisation, therefore his research challenges dominant histories of Asia Pacific. Towards these aims, alternative views of land are imagined within the complex social circumstances of the Pacific today. This includes socio-geographic mapping of the ocean as seen through the eyes of individual people, building upon the intimate connection between dirt, saltwater and spirits.
The Sea We See, Directed by James Jack, Edited by Sho Sugita, Poetry by James Jack and Harmony, Essay by Riko Okuyama, Tokyo Arts Council, 2017: 1-112.
Play with Nature, Played by Nature. Satoshi Koyama Gallery, June 2013.
Philosophies of Dirt: James Jack. Satoshi Koyama Gallery, October 2012.
Living in Story: Toshiaki Tomita. (Co-author) Intersections: University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, 2011.
“Dirt Stories: Cu Chi and Temasek”, ANTENNAE: Uncontrollable Nature in Southeast Asia, Edited by Nora Taylor, Kevin Chua and Lucy Davis. Summer 2021
“Sea-centric SEA (Socially Engaged Art and Southeast Asian Art)” 「海を中心するSEA」, SEA Roundtable Record: In What Way are Artists Grasping Socially Engaged Art? Tokyo: Art & Society Research Center, August 2019: 46-55.
“Spirits of Tsureshima: Creative Storytelling with Islanders”, Shima: The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures, Vol. 12, No. 1, April 2018: pp. 99-117.
“Is Sharing Possible? An Artist’s Reflection on Collectivity” (分かち合いは可能か？ ～共同性に関するアーティストの省察) Art and Time, Art and Place: Social Art Lab 2015-2017, Japanese Ministry for Cultural Affairs, March 2018: pp. 118-136.
“Art From What is Already There on Islands in the Seto Inland Sea”, Japanese Popular Culture Reader, Routledge Press, 2017, pp. 457-468.
“Social Climates of Sunset House”, (Co-author) Setouchi Triennale, October 2016, pp. 1-12.
“Encountering Photographs with Question Marks by Anzaï Shigeo,” Modern Art Asia, 2013, pp. 1-26.
“Introduction: Historical Exhibitions”, Requiem for the Sun: The Art of Mono-ha, Blum & Poe Gallery, 2012, pp. 124-127, 211-217.
“Stories of Khayalan Island”, Place-Labor-Capital, Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore Press, January 2018, pp. 104-107.
“Khayalan Island” ISSUE 3: Port of Call, LASALLE College of the Arts, August 2014, pp. 120-134.
“The Colors of Art in a Liberated Society: Guide to Rooting Creative Programs Together with Healthy Facilities”, TURN LAB: Arts Council Tokyo, March 2018: pp. 1-20.
“A Window of Life”, AM+ catalogue, Geidai, Alios Center + Iwaki City Art Museum, 2015.
“Unearthing the Seto Inland Sea’s Social Landscapes”, Japan Times Newspaper, March 28, 2013.
“Space is not the Place”, Suzanne Mooney, Satoshi Koyama Gallery, 2012.
“Reflection: What isn’t Mono-ha?” Art Asia Pacific Magazine, Issue 80, Sept/Oct 2012, p. 53-54.
Introduction to the Arts
Social Practice Art
Art and Social Change in Postwar Japan
Arts & Humanities Capstone Seminar