• Eva Louisa Jonas

'A Box of You', Eri Ueno: An exhibition in a truck.

Image courtesy of Eri Ueno

We first spoke to Eri Ueno during our residency at O N C A Barge where we engaged in conversations with artists practising around the world and composed our first publication: Collaborative Imaginaries.

During these conversations, topics such as practising art after graduation, making artistic communities, and preserving studio spaces were discussed. We were lucky enough to engage in honest, humorous and thoughtful discussions with many artists, and Eri was a dynamic and energetic addition to these!

Eri is a late-night Instagrammer, a talented artist, and a friend of mine so when we became aware of her most recent exhibition 'A Box of You' we had to get in touch again.

In “A Box of You” Eri addresses themes around belongings, nationality and appearances (or the lack of). Taking the form of ‘interviews’, in which Ueno gives the participants a transparent acrylic box, the participants then place objects in the box, these objects - as Eri suggests - “represent their life”. They placed as many objects into the box for as long as they wanted. The participants then talked about the contents in the box to a camera which is placed above their hands. Covered in vibrant blue gloves, the participants' hands aren't revealed, nor their name, nationality, or appearance.

Eri seeks to question what role this plays when living in Japan for a long amount of time.

When speaking to Eri she tells me about the Japanese terms, “Gaijin” and “Nihojin”.

Meaning a foreign person living in Japan, and Eri is frustrated by the judgement such people receive.

The work is exhibited in a truck, moving from one public space to the next as part of a requirement to exhibit in ‘non-white cube space’ (having received funding from Nagoya City called Nakagawa Artoc10). To better understand the project and the concepts behind it I put forward some questions to Eri, the artist.

Could you tell me about yourself and your practice?

My main art practices are paintings. Sometimes, I make Installation work out of context as if there’s another different artist in me. I’m searching for the point to connect my paintings and Installations.

This exhibition was presented in a public space, using a truck as the space. How did you go about this?

The artistic reason, I intended to make people walking into narrow space. The others are technical reasons because Nagoya city funded this project. They required me to have the show in the public non white cube space and move freaking every day.

What was the process behind receiving funding from Nagoya City?

The process took a whole year and a numerous many kinds of paper works. The most distinctive procedure that I experienced of receiving the funding is never ending paper work. For example, I submitted 20 pages of application to get authorised to park the truck in the city park. Every application has bureaucratic form because the budget comes from the city hall. In short, 80% of total work was preparing applications. The rest of 20% was making arts. I had been in hell.

Having graduated a year ago, did you feel supported by your graduating year/creative community in this exhibition?

Yes. I couldn’t make it without my NUA creative community. I asked many teachers, friends, and senior artists to help me. I noticed that it’s essential to belong to local art community.

Link to Nagoya City fund -


You can follow more of Eri’s work via her Instagram @eriuenobonbon

Video courtesy of Eri Ueno

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