Selected Works

“Nakaki yo no…” by Unknown Author

light, electric fan, bamboo, paper, and clay figurines
accompanied by a single-video projection
12 min. 33 sec.
Exhibit dimensions variable

This video installation work is composed of a story about the Japanese cargo ship captain Oguri Jukichi, who lived in the Edo period, surviving  approximately 484 days adrift at sea in the Pacific Ocean, and  building a memorial monument to commemorate the dead crew members after returning to Japan.

Usio created the video being conscious of the transmission of history in which an unspecified "I" and "You'' receive historical materials, and transform and convey them regardless of malicious intent.

In this installation, there are figurines of the Seven Lucky Gods, and figurines resembling human-like figures or stone-shaped objects on paper boats that are placed in a dim atmosphere. Usio says these figurines and objects are connected with expectation or fear for others who come and go beyond an inseparable boundary like the sea, with the video placed side by side.

Photo: Hiromasa Naganuma

"Funyoi" Tea Salon

Various types of tea, tea sets, cards, white cloth, and tea bags
Exhibit dimensions variable

Usio opened a 3-day unique  Tea Salon at TERATOTERA Festival 2019. The name of the tea salon "Funyoi'' means that things go contrary to one's wishes. So guests can't have the tea they want in there.

The below is Usio's instructions for guests of  "Funyoi" Tea Salon.

  1. Decide your partner to have tea time with
  2. Each person draws 3 cards which have different names of tea written on it from the card stack
  3. Each person presents one card they want to drink from the 3 cards
  4. Make a tea bag that mixes the 2 tea leaves from the cards, and share the drink

Names of different types of tea are written on each card, so the taste of the tea depends on the combination of the opponent.

In addition, Usio asked guests for one more cooperation by putting the tea bag on a white cloth to create a natural stain of special mixed tea.

She also held some workshops beside the tea salon; for example, an open classification of Masashi Ogura's documents and books which he collected over time.

Photo: Haruyuki Shirai, The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo

Things Just Don't Turn out the Way You Picture

Mixed media
Exhibit Dimensions variable

This installation consists of 6 junctions, which leads to 11 works which are made by videos, photos, sounds, electric appliances, furniture, games, beds, etc... Usio herself was sometimes present with her team mates or guests and did some workshop about collection & archiving.

Spectators can meet various experiences that are connected to daily life, games, and art on each route.

Usio was inspired by a part from "Histories" by Herodotus, where an ancient king tried to overdo a famine by playing various games for 18 years. Although this failure story where the king particularly uses games to control his people, Usio thinks that our lives and culture are fundamentally concerned with playing, and  tries to visualize how it leads to diverse developments of our expressions.
She said "Playing is built into our instincts, whether the result is what you want or not.".

Building a Boat by Taking Something Apart, Lesson 1. Casket

Casket, instruction paper, hand tools, waterproof tape

This art series is a practice that remakes personal belongings and things that are indispensable to life into a boat by using the bare minimum of handy tools.

While Usio researched the relation between boats and human migration, she remembers her family roots as wooden bucket makers. Japanese wooden bucket makers make caskets too, and she heard an impressive story from her aunt that her grandfather made his own casket and was buried in it after he died.

Usio also thought that a casket is a boat to transport from this world to the afterlife, which was the reason she chose the casket as her first choice to work on.

Recently we can easily buy caskets on the internet in Japan, so of all the choices she had to purchase a casket, she intentionally bought the one on the internet and remade it into a boat.

Usio, Where Are You?
Where Are You?

Single-channel Video
38 min. 39 sec.

This is the 3rd piece of "Black or White? Board Game Series Never to be Settled."

In 1977, the universal design Othello which helps visually impaired people distinguish from black or white by a sense of touch was released. Usio obtained it and painted the pieces so it became a semicircle of black and white on each side. She then recorded the hands of a couple who are playing the Othello with eye masks.

Though the match is starting clumsily, the two players get used to understanding and playing without a sense of vision. But how is the audience who watches the match relying on their vision? The audience becomes unable to keep track of the match situation unless they use strong concentration and memory, and they gradually get confused by their own sense of vision.

Owned by Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art

Usio, Continue? Yes.
Continue? Yes.

Go stones, acrylic board, go board
1(H)×39(W)×37(D)cm; acrylic board
33(H)×45.5(W)×42(D)cm; go board

This is the 2nd piece of "Black or White? Board Game Series Never to be Settled."

On the morning of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima city, the so-called "Atomic Bomb Game", a landmark match of Japanese Go restarted playing. The 3rd title series of the Honinbo Title game 2 was at it's 106th move, held at the suburb of Hiroshima city. Record tells that every Go stone was blown away with shattered glass by the tremendous blast of wind and blinding flash. The match was obviously suspended, but resumed in a few hours after setting the stones back in position. 

Usio was inspired by this story, and imaged the strong light and shadow perhaps made from the atomic bomb. 

Owned by Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art

Usio, Chess by Beauty & the Widower
Chess by Beauty & the Widower

single-channel video
3 min.

This is the 1st piece of "Black or White? Board Game Series Never to be Settled."

Although there are a lot of works which use Chess mainly in the Western world, Usio thinks “White Chess Set” and “Play it by Trust” made by Yoko Ono are especially unique. So she thought of making a piece which uses Chess as an ode in reply from a far east artist.
In this video work, the woman and the man can not move the chess pieces well because the chess pieces are made of wax and the chess board is made of metal, which is actually heated from below. The chess pieces are going to slide and gradually melt, and be liquefied in the end.