Maya Onoda: Nomadic Home

(2008 / 28 minutes / DV / English & Japanese with English subtitles)

New York is an art world center. But at the same time, there are also big issues of culture, identity and nationality for foreign artists. How does it influence the artists and their art to live and work in a foreign city?

This documentary is about Maya Onoda, a Japanese artist living and working in New York City. She came to the United States ten years ago and she studied art at California State University. After she earned a BFA there, she moved to New York, which was about 4 years ago. She received an MFA at Pratt Institution in Brooklyn and currently she belongs to Magnan Projects Gallery in New York.

Maya makes installation art. She considers herself as a “nomad” because she goes back and forth between two different cultures, American and Japanese cultures. She also calls her installation art as a “nomadic tent,” which means a portable home she can carry around anywhere with her.

She uses materials which she collects in her daily life. She gives another life to these materials by “recycling” them, turning them into art. These performances — collecting and recycling — are deeply related to her memory of her childhood and her mother. Most Japanese women, especially an older generation, have habits of collecting things and making another thing from old stuff by recycling. Sewing which she often uses in her art is also related to her mother; her mother was good at dressmaking and Maya had often seen her mother sewing and making clothes for her.

However, her art has not only a “Japanese” sense. After she moved to the United States, she discovered her own identity, which was not only as a Japanese person but as “herself.” That is another reason why she considers herself as a “nomad.” She maintains her true identity through making her art, her “nomadic home” in a foreign city.

[Official Selection Film Festivals]
2009   NewFilmmakers Spring Festival (New York, USA)
2009   Globians Documentary Film Festival (Berlin, Germany)