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Public Sphere

Rieko Whitfield

Rieko Whitfield is a London-based, Japanese-American multidisciplinary artist who weaves immersive worlds with speculative mythologies through performance, moving image, installation, sculpture, music, and text. Her storytelling decentres narratives of Western, capitalist individualism toward beyond-human collectivism. Whitfield often collaborates as an artist, curator, and community organiser, and is the founding member of the performance art platform Diasporas Now.

Her current project Regenesis draws from the visual language, emotional affect, and often complex political undertones in the popular formats of the music video and the EP.

She has exhibited in and worked with institutions such as the Palais de Tokyo, the Saatchi Gallery, the Wellcome Collection, Gasworks, and NN Contemporary. 

Whitfield is an MA graduate of the Royal College of Art, and previously studied at the American University of Paris and University of the Arts London: Central Saint Martins.

My tentacular practice weaves together propositional worlds through storytelling and community organising. To world-weave is to envision an existence beyond the one we know, and I use my voice to contribute toward the collective awakenings we need in an era of unprecedented collective trauma. I see my role as an artist as prototyping new infrastructures and cultivating the foundational values of the communities we wish to embody.

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Regenesis is a container project of world-building and speculative mythology that spans mediums such as moving image, performance, songwriting, and sculpture. The objects within Regenesis serve as mementos from the world created in the project, and were either inspired by or activated within the filming of Regenesis: An Opera Tentacular.

Regenesis: An Opera Tentacular is a non-linear, three-act rock opera of cyclical life, death, embodiment, and community, set in a world healing from the apocalypse.

The narrative is inspired by the Shinto goddess of creation and destruction who burns to death giving birth to the world, and the magical rituals of Noh, a form of traditional Japanese opera. The performances channel supernatural beings who heal the broken body of the earth through collective care.

Act II debuted in the Everything Forever exhibition and was included in separate curatorial selections by Silicon Valet, Anna Souter, and Ambar Quijano. The song "Safe Spaces" from Act II was streamed on Montez Press Radio. Act II has been selected for The Self and the Other, an international student showcase for moving image works organised in partnership with Saatchi Gallery Learning.

Act III debuted in the opening of RCA 2021.

Act I will debut on July 21, 2021 with the opening of the RCA 2021 Contemporary Art Practice Degree Show at Cromwell Place, and available to stream on riekowhitfield.com.

Special thank you to performers Wayne Daniels, Jesse May Fisher, River Cao, and Sofie Manetta, set photographer Ning Zhou, and logo designer Alessandro Moroni.

Regenesis: An Opera Tentacular (Act II)

Medium:

Moving Image

Size:

5 minutes 42 seconds
Regenesis: An Opera Tentacular (Act III)

Medium:

Moving Image

Size:

6 minutes 37 seconds

The objects created for Regenesis are souvenirs from the mythological world where the narrative takes place, and activated through live and pre-recorded performance as set or costume design.

Crocheted mycelial patterns are repeated across various works to draw parallels between the multi-sensory, decentralised intelligence and regenerative properties of both tentacles and mycelial networks.

One of the objects include a found garment unraveled and rewoven into a wearable sculpture, as if the wool jumper were decomposing and reincarnating itself.

Microscopic images of seeds also feature in different iterations as a digitally-printed tapestry on the set of Act III, and as the chroma-key backdrop of Act II.

Contact rieko.whitfield@alumni.rca.ac.uk for sales enquiries.

Medium:

Cotton, wool, acrylic, wood, ultraviolet light, crystal quartz

Size:

Variable
Diasporas Now

Diasporas Now is a live-streaming platform for multidisciplinary artists from various non-Western backgrounds that use performance as radical acts of self-representation. The first iteration of Diasporas Now includes artists of Asian, Afro-Caribbean, and Latin American diasporas.  

This event expands the boundaries of performance as a medium by exhibiting a diverse range of forms such as dance, music, spoken word, and installation. The works will be live-streamed as both pre-recorded and real-time performances.  

Diasporas Now is a collective manifestation of personal and often political identities reflecting the multitude of minority voices under the hegemonic culture.

The first iteration of Diasporas Now features works by RCA students and guest artists Whiskey Chow and Chooc Ly Tan.

The platform will launch July 1, 2021 at 16:00 (GMT+1).

Diasporas Now was founded and curated by Rieko Whitfield, Paola Estrella, and Lulu Wang.

Rituals and Recipes — "Rituals and Recipes" was a four-day AcrossRCA workshop organised by the Artemisia collective (Rieko Whitfield, Jesse May Fisher, and Treeney Harkin) offering a communityplatform where students could meet, collaborate, and create work online during lockdown to publish in the zine "Invitations to Symbiotic Care." This workshop explored the potential of rituals, recipes, and collective care to subvert larger socio-political narratives of power – and to partake in the radical act of sharing lived experiences.
Another World is Possible — “Another World is Possible” is a decentralised, self-curating exhibition by the Protozoa collective that mirrors the values of the world the artists wish to create. Each exhibiting artist invites another artist to exhibit, and they in turn invite another artist. The format of the exhibition takes place on a clone site of the Royal College of Art’s digital body – acting as a viral institutional parasite. The site runs on automated scripts, and exists in an amorphous, generative state of potentiality.
Decentralising Institutions — In this lecture series for RCA students responding to Hito Steyerl's coining of the royalcollegeofart.eth NFT, Ben Vickers discussed the emerging dynamics within blockchain, NFTs, and DAOs, and the ideological possibilities of a decentralised, worker-centred institution. Ben Vickers is the CTO at the Serpentine Galleries and co-founder of Ignota Books, the publisher of The White Paper by Satoshi Nakamoto (the anonymous inventor of blockchain).

Rieko Whitfield is a founding member and workshop facilitator for the Artemisia collective (with Jesse May Fisher and Treeney Harkin), a founding member of the Protozoa collective organising Another World is Possible, a founding member and curator for the Diasporas Now platform (with Paola Estrella and Lulu Wang), and the organiser for the Decentralising Institutions lecture series in conversation with artist Hito Steyerl, Ben Vickers of the Serpentine Galleries, and Dean Kissick of Spike Art Magazine.

Image commissioned for "As Microcosm, So Macrosm"

"As Microcosm, So Macrocosm" was a performative meditation and participatory reiki workshop commissioned by Gasworks.

This was the opening event for Hear the Light, an exhibition from May 11-17, 2021 curated by Ludovica Bulciolu, David Lisbon, Hyeona Shin, Haoyang Wang, Shiying Wang, Kechun Qin, Duruo Zheng from the Royal College of Art's MA Curating Contemporary Art Programme.

Medium:

Workshop

Size:

1 hour
Cover art for the upcoming "Regenesis" EP

The larger Regenesis project will be complete with the upcoming release of the Regenesis EP, with recordings of all three original songs ("Mother Tongue," "Safe Spaces," and "Ashes to Ashes") and spoken word written and performed by Rieko Whitfield.

The songs from Regenesis will be performed live at the launch of Diasporas Now on July 1, 2021 at 16:00 (GMT+1), and during the RCA 2021 Contemporary Art Practice Degree Show at Cromwell Place between July 21-26, 2021.

Follow riekowhitfield.com and @riekowhitfield for updates on live performances and the Regenesis EP.