Special Feature


Digital is not a "lie" - an interview at nina's first solo exhibition "AfterBirth"

@Ittetsu Matsuoka
In March 2024, nina held her first solo exhibition "AfterBirth". She has been exploring the sensations of people oscillating between the virtual and the real, and between information and the physical, through her unique expressions. Having focused on digital as her main battlefield, in this exhibition she has ventured into new forms of expression, including three-dimensional works and oil paintings. We asked her in detail about the background of her first solo exhibition in her sixth year since debut and the thoughts embedded in each piece.

Longing and resignation towards "nature"

Longing and resignation towards "nature"

—Congratulations on your first solo exhibition. Why did you decide to hold it at this time?

I've always wanted to have a solo exhibition. However, it was difficult with overlapping work commitments. About a year ago, I finally started telling people around me that I wanted to have one. Around that time, I happened to receive an invitation from New Gallery, and I replied, "Let's do it together."

—Until now, you have been mainly working with digital expressions like illustrations and animations, but this time you've ventured into oil painting and sculptures.

I was initially unsure about the direction for the exhibition. Whether to archive my past activities or to try something new... But then I realized that most of my works were designed to be viewed on screens, and it didn’t seem very meaningful to forcibly exhibit them in a physical space. Instead, I wanted to delve into things I really wanted to do and hadn't been able to do yet.

—In your statement, you mentioned, "I don't want to forget the body." Could you elaborate on that?

I've always felt a kind of discomfort drawing digitally, as if I was lying... But I couldn't understand why I felt that way. When the opportunity to hold an exhibition came, I took the time to explore this feeling deeply.

What became clear was that I seem to believe in "the natural way of being as a living creature" or "being human as Homo sapiens" as the "truth." That’s why expressions that don’t involve the body feel like "lies" to me.

However, I was born in the city and grew up surrounded by computers, drawing digitally. I wondered about this contradiction. That's what led to the feeling of "not wanting to forget the body."

Navigating between digital and physical as my own identity

—Has that feeling of discomfort resolved?

As I considered what to create for the exhibition, I read various books and watched videos, gradually coming to accept it. Being surrounded by buildings and expressing myself digitally is also "natural" for me. On the other hand, the "physical nature" I had been clinging to wasn't necessarily real for me.

—Recognizing that the "digital" is part of your nature...

Yes, I realized it’s better to acknowledge that. Moving between digital and physical expressions is what feels most like me. I've probably been unconsciously balancing this all along, and that's why I felt anxious when my work skewed too digital. But now, I no longer think of digital expressions as "lies." For me, living in the modern world, that's natural.

—As a result of consciously balancing digital and physical, does this exhibition feature more physical expressions?

Yes, I've always wanted to try oil painting and sculptures, and I finally understood why.

—Were there any books or works that inspired you?

I've seen many, but one significant influence might be the "WEEKLY OCHIAI" program hosted by media artist Yoichi Ochiai. I binge-watched the archives, especially the episode featuring guest Akinaka Senzaki was fascinating.

—How was the title "AfterBirth" decided?

The theme of navigating between digital and nature was set, but I couldn’t find the right word to fit. While flipping through a medical dictionary on my phone, I stumbled upon the term "afterbirth," which refers to parts of the placenta and such being expelled from the mother’s body after the baby is born. The nuance of something that was part of oneself being separated at the moment of birth perfectly matched the theme, so I translated it into English as "AfterBirth."

Longing and resignation towards "nature"


nina 『AfterBirth』
2024.3.14 thu - 2024.4.21 sun