Rowing a Tetrapod is Fumi Ishino’s first solo exhibition. Born in Hyogo, Japan, Ishino moved to the United States as an adolescent and since then has lived in and between both places as a self-described alien and minority. Rowing a Tetrapod reconstructs the artist’s hybrid mental landscape, allowing viewers to experience the waves of disorientation and recognition that a foreigner is faced with as an interlocutor of another culture. Images of orbiting satellites, interiors of spaceships, and affirming messages from astronaut Colonel Wheelock ask us to see as he does—as a curious outsider in both places.
Collectively, the photographs aim to disorient the spectator through content and sequencing; staccato shifts in a wide array of subject-matter encourage misinterpretation. Even the title itself is an embrace of absurdity and illegibility. In English, a tetrapod is a four-limbed vertebrate that typically refers to amphibians and reptiles but also includes mammals and primates. Yet in Japanese, a tetrapod refers to a coastal engineering structure used to prevent erosion and coastal drift. Water unites both meanings, yet neither the animal nor the concrete can be moved through a rowing gesture.
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