Exhibition “Repatriatsiya” in Moscow in 2019. With archive images, found objects, 3D scans/animation and photographs, the project visualizes the journey of Siberian driftwoods that travel from the Yenisey River to Iceland through the Gulag and the Arctic sea. The idea is based on dendrochronological research on driftwoods in Iceland.

Ikuru Kuwajima

Moscow, RUSSIA

Ikuru Kuwajima is a Moscow-based artist born in Japan, educated as a photojournalist in University of Missouri-Columbia, but living and working in Eastern European and Central Asian countries, such as Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, in the past 13 years. His works explore identity, culture, history and social issues primarily in the post-Soviet states through photography and other media. He also attended European contemporary photography workshop Reflexions Masterclass from 2010 to 2013.

He early worked as a photojournalist, and his documentary and journalistic work appeared in various publications including Le Monde, National Geographic, TIME Magazine’s Lightbox, Newsweek Japan, New York Times Lens Blog, Internazionale, Save the Children, Marie Claire, Forbes Magazine, Guardian, Esquire Russia, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, NPR, Wired and Daily Mail. His photographs were also recognized in POYi, COPY and NPPA Best of Photojournalism.

He had several personal photographic and contemporary art exhibitions including “Sentier” (Musée des Arts Asiatiques de Nice, France, 2020), “Repatriatsiya” (Peresvetov Pereulok Art Gallery, Moscow, 2019) and “I, Oblomov” (The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography, Moscow, 2018) and participated in various international exhibitions including Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art (Ekaterinburg, Russia, 2021), Garage Triennial of Russian Contemporary Art (Moscow, 2020), Krasnoyarsk Biennale (Krasnoyarsk, Russia, 2019), Recontres Internationales Paris/Berlin Contemporary Moving Images (Paris/Berlin, 2018), Boutographies (Montpellier, France, 2017), Fotografia Europia (Reggio Emilia, Italy, 2016), Venice Biennale’s Central Asian Pavilion (Venice, Italy, 2013) and Noorderlicht International Photo Festival (2011). His artist books “Tundra Kids” and “I, Oblomov” were published in Vienna in 2015 and in Moscow in 2017, respectably. Besides he works a Russian/English – Japanese translator and has been involved in various media and art related projects, including production of documentary films, contemporary art exhibitions and journalistic works, as well publication of Russian translation of Japanese literature.

Photograph and exhibition “Trail”, a project showing Afghanistan’s long thin trail seen from Tajikistan across the long border in the Pamir region. The exhibition took place in Montpelier, France in 2017.

"I appreciate photographs that question conventional ideas, foster diversification of visual representations and cast a light on neglected issues, as I believe such photographs became even more relevant and valuable for the world oversaturated with images today."

Ikuru Kuwajima
Portrait and a child’s drawing in the project “Tundra Kids”, which consists of portraits, objects and drawings of Nenets children living and studying in the arctic region of Russia.
Book “Tundra Kids” published in Vienna in 2015.
Exhibition “Story of how a boy from Nizhniy Tagil Vitya Starukhin became a Japanese baseball player Victor Starffin” in Nizhniy Tagil, Russia, 2021. The project is about a Russia-born Japanese baseball legend of the mid 20th century, who immigrated to Japan due to the Russian revolution.
Exhibition “I, Oblomov” in Moscow, 2017. This quasi auto-anthropological work was made in reference to a Russian classic satirical novel “Oblomov” of the 19th century, of which hero is always lying on the couch, lost in aimless reveries, and is considered as a stereotypical representation (yet often with affection and smile) of “Russians”, at least among Russian speakers.
Book “I, Oblomov” published in Moscow in 2018.