Shiro Masuyama was born in Tokyo in 1971. Following international residencies in the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin in 2006 and Flax Art Studios in 2009, he moved to Belfast where he has been based ever since. His artistic practice has mainly developed through numerous residencies undertaken all around the world.
Shiro’s exhibition at Siamsa Tíre will include photographic portraits and video documentaries of animal shearing projects for sheep, alpaca, and camel, which were realized with local people who have traditional skills in Ireland, Peru and Mongolia; the Borderline Project – a half-Irish and half-British art caravan* made from his outsider’s point of view as Japanese in Northern Ireland; humorous letter-shaped chicken feeders for rural Thailand; houses for flies trapped inside West Cork Arts Centre, Skibereen, related to the local history of the Great Famine; group photographs and T-Shirts from a recent engagement with members of the local environmental community.
“I’m originally from Japan. I have studied architecture to Masters’ level and my art projects have been influenced by this and mainly manifest as site-specific architectural interventions. Using my architectural background and my Japanese identity, I make projects which fundamentally connect people and society – so-called socially engaged art.
I believe interaction with people often brings unexpected results. It’s one of the most important processes and components in completing an artwork. Since I began working in rural areas where there are not many people, I have naturally shifted to involving not only people but also animals and insects, responding to the natural environment around me.
Increasingly after the Tohoku Earthquake in Japan on March 11, 2011, and following the worldwide growth of anti-globalization, I’ve started to ask questions about our contemporary way of life which is based on consumerism and capitalism and keeps exploiting us as well as destroying our environment. I am a pacifist. I also don’t like the political conflict all around the world including the one in Northern Ireland where I live.
My works are critical of such contemporary society but using a sense of humour. Respecting others, using my artistic unique method, I’ve tried to coexist with other people, animals, insects and nature as our ancestors would have traditionally done.”
Shiro Masuyama, July 2019
* Borderline Project will only be on view on Fri. 4th, Sat. 5th and Sun. 6th October