Today @ AK

Kota Ezawa

German, born 1969

Courtesy of the artist and Haines Gallery. © 2011 Kota Ezawa

UFO, 2011

Paper cutout
8 x 10 1/2 inches (20.3 x 26.7 cm)
Bequest of Arthur B. Michael, by exchange, 2012

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.

Each of the paper cutouts Moon, 2011, UFO, 2011, Water Tower, 2012, and Zeng, 2011, references an iconic historical, or art historical, photograph. These images are part of The History of Photography Remix, Ezawa's ongoing survey of the last 165 years of “western photo-culture.” From Bernd (German, 1931-2007) and Hilla (German, born 1934) Becher’s classic photographs of water towers to images of UFOs, these images engage a collective subconscious and exemplify how the work of pioneering photographers has influenced our cultural perception. Although the original sources of many of Ezawa’s images are not always immediately recognizable, the dialogue between past and present in each work is evident.

The Gallery also recently acquired Ezawa’s City of Nature, 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.