Shimabuku | "For Octopuses, Monkeys and People"

Tuesday, October 12, 2021, 7 - 8:30pm

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Shimabuku. Sharpening a Macbook Air, 2015. Video, colour, sound and object in vitrine


The Snow Monkeys of Texas

Shimabuku. The Snow Monkeys of Texas: Do snow monkeys remember snow mountains?, 2016. Video Installation

For Octopuses, Monkeys and People is the title of a solo project I developed in 2018 at the art center named: Le Crédac in France. I still feel this is a good title to describe my work, thinking and research. Since the very beginning of my practice as an artist, animals have often appeared in my works. Actually, more than just appearing in the work, I often do the work for them.

- Shimabuku

Shimabuku, who finds an endless source for his work in language, gives a free online lecture as part of the Fall 2021 Intra-Disciplinary Seminar series. Shimabuku surveys his surroundings with a perspective which turns daily practices into strange moments of contemplation.  He appropriates existing incongruity in our looking at things: for some, a stone might only be a mundane stone; for an octopus it might be a valuable belonging. Born in 1969 in Kobe, Japan, Shimabuku is an artist who collects unusual encounters. Each of his works (including videos, sculptural installations, performance documentations, and photography) tells the story of these improbable situations across borders, species, and states of being. He experiments with all kinds of interactions, pushing back the limits of physics and the imaginary. For his talk he will reflect on his history and present concerns as an artist.

Shimabuku portrait

Photograph by Rika Noguchi 

After living in Berlin, Germany for 12 years, Shimabuku moved to Naha, Okinawa, Japan in 2017 where he is currently based. From the beginning of the 1990s, he has travelled to various places in Japan and overseas, creating performances and installations that consider the daily lives and cultures of people he encounters, as well as new forms of communication. He also works in a diverse range of media including sculpture, film and photography. Full of poetic sentiment and humor while also inspiring people in metaphorical ways, his style has gained a worldwide reputation. Shimabuku had solo show at Kunsthalle Bern (2014) and NMNM Nouveau Musée National de Monaco (2021) and he has participated in group shows at Centre Pompidou in Paris and Hayward Gallery in London, and in numerous international exhibitions including Venice Biennale (2003, 2017), the São Paulo Biennial (2006), Havana Biennial (2015) and Lyon Biennale (2017).

Registration required.

The IDS public lecture series is part of the Robert Lehman Visiting Artist Program at The Cooper Union. We are grateful for major funding from the Robert Lehman Foundation. The IDS public lecture series is also made possible by generous support from the Open Society Foundations.


  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.