Today @ AK

Kota Ezawa

German, born 1969

Courtesy of the artist and Haines Gallery. © 2012 Kota Ezawa

City of Nature, 2011

Blu-ray disc, edition 4/10
Running time: 3 minutes, 54 seconds
George B. and Jenny R. Mathews Fund, by exchange, 2012

On View in Screen Play: Life in an Animated World (June 20–September 13, 2015)

Kota Ezawa recontextualizes images from art history and popular culture in animated videos, slide projections, light boxes, collages, and works on paper. Ezawa believes that “it is more interesting to look at something you know than to look at something you don’t know.” By appropriating videos and still images of pivotal events in American history—such as the arresting silent film of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy recorded by Abraham Zapruder, or footage of the verdict announcement at the O.J. Simpson murder trial—as well as imagery commonplace in American consumer life, he creates experiences for the viewer that are based on familiar sights laden with cultural significance. Over the past three years, Ezawa has been working on a series of works that focus on physical versus illusionary space, and how reality and fiction merge to form intricate relationships in films, television, and photographs.

City of Nature, 2011, weaves together images based on brief excerpts from twenty popular films, including Days of Heaven, 1978, and Brokeback Mountain, 2005, featuring pristine landscapes. The images in Ezawa’s film are manually reconstructed using drawing software and edited together frame by frame to form the work’s narrative. In City of Nature, nature becomes the central character, rather than a backdrop or cutaway between the scenes of a movie. 

The Gallery also recently acquired Ezawa’s Moon, 2011UFO, 2011Water Tower, 2012, and Zeng, 2011.


Born in Cologne, Germany in 1969, Kota Ezawa studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Germany, and received his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, California and an MFA from Stanford University, California. He has shown extensively both nationally and internationally, and his work is held in numerous museum collections. He currently lives and works in San Francisco, California, and is an Assistant Professor of Media Arts at the California College of the Arts.