Born 1981 in Lima, Peru; lives and works in Lima

Working with everyday materials and situations, Sandra Nakamura creates temporary, site-specific interventions in which she seeks to actively engage the public in sociopolitical investigations. She has done projects for Centro Abierto, Peru; Biennial of the Americas, Denver, Colorado; CCA Wattis Institute, San Francisco; and Cuenca Biennial, Ecuador. She has received several grants, including a 2016 award from the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO) in the Emerging Artists category, and has been an artist-in-residence at the Basque Center-Museum of Contemporary Art, Spain; Community Museum Project, Hong Kong; and Center for Contemporary Art Kitakyushu, Japan. Nakamura holds an MFA from the Bauhaus Universität Weimar, Germany.


I believe that a lot of my work is informed by my experience traveling and by the experience of feeling slightly displaced, but in a constant manner. For example, here, I have never really felt Peruvian–completely Peruvian.

I went to study in the US when I was 17 to a place where I wasn’t familiar, where I had to learn the language. So I felt somewhat apart. Afterwards I went to Germany, then I spent time in Japan. Then after 12 years of traveling and living abroad, I came back to Perú to work here for the first time. And my house at that time did not feel right for working. So I think that’s where this idea to investigate spaces– its relationships or links, emotional or contextual that we have with spaces, people, places.

The work always has some type of relation with the place or the context where it will be shown. Generally, I research the place first–the place, its history, the conditions of the space. Then based on what I have found, I focus on a specific aspect. And the material, physical or formal part comes from what I discover in my research.

How do we form emotional links with a space, questions of collective memory also–because sometimes one might be close to a space because of something personal or because of experiences or family, but also at the same time, sharing some kind of link through community.

I believe that this identity or relation with Japan is apparent in one way or another through my treatment of materials. For example, I use a lot of white, monochromatic, more minimalist. I don’t know if these are things that I learned from Japan or from my home or from my grandparents or by how these are organized in your house or space–I’ve never been able to identify precisely where this aesthetic comes from.

Emptiness, absence, and displacement are important to my research. And on the other hand, this issue of white and of a space that’s not crammed with objects, things and colors–almost like a space of contemplation.

* * * * *

Transpacific Borderlands: The Art of Japanese Diaspora in Lima, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and São Paulo is on view at the Japanese American National Museum from September 17, 2017 - February 25, 2018. The exhibition examines the experiences of artists of Japanese ancestry born, raised, or living in either Latin America or predominantly Latin American neighborhoods of Southern California. Sandra Nakamura is one of the artists featured in this exhibition.

For more information about the exhibition, visit

Japanese American National Museum
100 N. Central Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

*The exhibition is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a Getty-led initiative exploring Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles, and is made possible through grants from the Getty Foundation. The presenting sponsor of PST: LA/LA is Bank of America.

JANM — Last modified Sep 22 2018 10:06 p.m.

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