Japanese Lesson

Since 2005 Katja Stuke and Oliver Sieber have been traveling to Japan, working on topics from subculture to surveillance. Since 2011 they are developing an extensive body of work they call the »Japanese Lesson«. At the beginning it was a single one-channel video, dealing with the visual influence, research and overwealming impressions of the Japanese cities, life and culture. Since then their perspective became more elaborated and several new works have been created: photobooks, different photographic series, dealing with topics like protest and activism, activists and landscape — political landscape.

Japanese Lesson is part of Cartographie Dynamique»»

»Fotografie neu Ordnen — Japanese Lesson« Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg 2018, curated by Esther Ruelfs

Katja Stuke and Oliver Sieber’s photographic work is image production in an understated mode. No photographs of decisive moments; not even any that search their surroundings for major events or specifically original motifs. Rather, it is casual photography: serene, attentive, more at a walking pace than that of lightning speed; a photography of process, oriented as much to time as to space. […]
This photography has little to do with the Japanese iconography of tea ceremonies and rock gardens. It could also be said that it has little room left for it, as Stuke and Sieber‘s interest by no means focusses on the nostalgic or the exquisite image of Japan, but on the more prosaic spectacle of those vernacular landscapes that are equally urban and peripheral, medial and material. […]

The sequencing of these ‘Walks’ correspond to the natural process that is characteristic of the photographic work by Stuke and Sieber as a whole. After the picture is before the picture; one photo does not stand for itself, but is part of a sequence and constellation; what is captured in one photograph will look somewhat different in the next; and completing a series with a particular photo does not necessarily mean that it has been finalised. As a general rule, the work of these two photographers almost always shifts the photographic work beyond the moment and the motif towards a movement that is conceived as open and that only comes to a temporary standstill with the last image of the photographic ensemble. […] From a text by Stefanie Diekmann

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Katja Stuke & Oliver Sieber.
Japanese Lesson
. 2017
artist book, ed. of #5
20 x 28 cm, 1260 pages, incl. 630 color plates
(incl. 13 drawings, carbon paper and a glossary


This »Japanese Lesson« is an associative mashup, developing since 2005. Resulted from a long-lasting research it contains images and drawings from mangas and animes, still images from japanese movies, historical and current press-photographs; photos, drawings and paintings by japanese artists, some of our own works and material we found in the web, magazines, LP-record-sleeves, catalogues, in the streets and subways of Tokyo and Osaka.

One-channel- Video 2019, 5:43 min


Japanese Lesson — exhibitions

2021 Museum Kunstpalast Düsseldorf
2020 Museum Morsbroich Leverkusen
2019 Kunsthalle Gießen
2019 Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
2018 UNSEEN Amsterdam, Coop
2017 Rolling Paper #1, Le Bal
2017 CCCB Barcelona
2016 Filmwerkstatt Düsseldorf
2015 Artist Talk with ChimPom, IMA Tokyo
2012 Open Source Festival, Düsseldorf
2012 Kunstverein Leverkusen
2011 Photomuseum Braunschweig
also: Künstlerverein Malkasten, Düsseldorf;
new talents, Köln; CASO Contemporary Art Space, Osaka

Japanese Lesson — publications

2021 »Tokyo Happy« Scope Hannover
2017 »Japanese Lesson« artist book
2017 »Tokyo no Hate«
2017 »Japanese Lesson, A Colour Guide«
2012 »Das März Heft« Böhm #41
2010 »Japanese Lesson« Böhm #34


Kunsthalle Giessen 2018
Download Catalogue»»
Museum Schloss Morsbroich Leverkusen 2021
CCCB Barcelona 2017
Tokyo No Hate, 2022
Photobook Museum Cologne / Tokyo Express

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was an energy accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima, initiated primarily by the tsunami following the Tohoku earthquake on 11 March 2011. Since then Katja Stuke and Oliver Sieber met activists in Japan, joined protest demonstrations, exchanged with artists and learned a lot abour places, spaces and history in Japan.

20 x 28 cm, 72 pages black and white xerox copies on natural paper, handbound