Born 1978 in Osaka, Japan; lives and works in Tijuana, Mexico, and Düsseldorf, Germany

The works of visual artist and filmmaker Shinpei Takeda involve a wide range of themes regarding memory and history; he uses multimedia installations, sound interventions, documentary films, large-scale photography installations, and collaborative community projects in a variety of public contexts. His documentary films have dealt with such diverse topics as pre-World War II Japanese immigration to Tijuana, Mexico, and atomic bomb survivors living in the Americas. His visual art projects have included an outdoor urban photo montage created in collaboration with the local community. Takeda is founder and creative director of the AjA Project, a nonprofit dedicated to working with resettled refugee children in San Diego and displaced youth in Colombia and Thailand using participatory photography.


My name is Shinpei Takeda and I'm an artist. I'm from Japan I grew up in Germany from 1985 to 1990 because of my father’s job. I want to be able to say my job is to be Shimpei Takeda. That’s just what I’m trying to do, what I feel I need to do. And certain context requires certain different skills sets of mine.

You know, from in Mexico I am doing a lot more visual artwork. In Germany I’m editing a lot more—I wrote a book in Germany. There’s different parts of these places that I associate with. They are all in me, you know.

I’m proposing a Roach Motel Installation, which is a scaffolding in which I will be on the first floor. It will be three (floors). It's a tower and one tunnel, and we call it Roach Trap so that this is me like a little trap and there would be a lot of noise down there and then you have a few other sections in which we will be there and then we will be playing music. It’s kind of a “noise punkformance unit” that has two American musicians and two Mexican artists and me and we’ve been doing this type of “punkformance music” but performance punk project for the last the last 10 years or so.

I’m still diasporing, you know. I'm trying to find out moving here moving there and then by moving from one place to another, something becomes very clear about this place that you left.

There was a city just outside of the Oaxaca there is a small town called Teotitlan del Valle where there were 5,000 people there were all weaving and weaving is all about time, it's about - it’s like a printing machine, you just slowly – it’s about graining time into this thread.

So I thought it was an interesting metaphor. So I used this baseline of the tapetes as a canvas and I started painting on them. And this piece called Beta Decay 3 is called Timeline of our Memory. That one has a lot of writings in Zapotecos but they don’t have an alphabet. So I wrote it in Japanese in katakana.

My intent to show my process of how do you stop if each thread is individual’s lives and stories, how do we pay attention and how do do we listen to these people's stories.

* * * * *

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. Shinpei Takeda 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.

Nikkei Heroes: Trailblazers, Role Models, and Inspirations

Read the Nikkei Heroes >>

Get updates

Sign up for email updates

Journal feed
Events feed
Comments feed

Support this project

Discover Nikkei

Discover Nikkei is a place to connect with others and share the Nikkei experience. To continue to sustain and grow this project, we need your help!

Ways to help >>

A project of the Japanese American National Museum

Major support by The Nippon Foundation