Borderless – a collaboration across continents

November 30 to December 4, 2021

A Scroll by the Mokuhanga Sisters

nara prefectural cultural Hall, Nara

Borderless is a collaborative project with a collective of artists in residence at the 2019 MI-LAB programme from the USA, Ireland, Korea and the UK. Borderless is an artist’s book edition of 8 sumi ink mokuhanga prints presented in a scroll, conceived at a time of growing political divide and separation. The collaborating artists are Katie Baldwin (USA), Patty Hudak (USA), Mariko Jesse (UK), Kate MacDonagh (Ireland), Yoonmi Nam (Korea/USA), Mia O (Korea/Japan), Lucy May Schofield (UK), Melissa Schulenberg (USA).

Mokuhanga Sisters, Borderless, 2021, emakimono scroll, 23 x 255 x 4 cm

Borderless is formed of an emakimono scroll, referencing the ancient format originally intended to provide cultural information and teach moral values. Scrolls spanned a ‘great variety of subject matter, from political commentary to epic romances and religious tales, allowing readers to immerse themselves deep within the narratives’. Historically scrolls were also used to reflect an artist’s criticism of certain government’s tactics or policies.

Borderless is a visual and emotional correspondence between artists across three continents. This dialogue in print is motivated by the desire to connect beyond the experience of the artist’s residency, creating an intersection to comment and converse on the state of division in the artists’ respective countries. In part it is a response to the UK’s choice to leave the European Union and the US presidential administration’s policy to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. Borderless is a vehicle to express an alternate narrative to the culture of separation prevalent in the current political climate.

A scroll lacks limits or boundaries, the images flowing from one page to the next, across time and space. These prints, created independently in the artists’ studios, give rise to the meeting of 8 different universes, conversing to create one. These prints celebrate the diversity of style, line, form and interpretation of each contributing voice; an organic, serendipitous culmination of narrative. The scroll resists a constructed, pre-conceived reading, allowing the viewer space for contemplation and to make connections across the borders. Borderless is a place where each artist has come together, through a shared love of mokuhanga, to create a bridge between our independent practices, and socio-political concerns by communing with one another.