Keiken is a cross-dimensional collaborative practice founded by artists Hana Omori, Isabel Ramos, Tanya Cruz, in 2015. Through a veil of magical realism, they reflect and deconstruct the contemporary, as though it was history.
Working in a non-hierarchical way, and often including collaborators outside of the collective, Keiken is a great example of the beauty of art collaborations.
Their work ‘Feel My Metaverse,’ is currently part of the exhibition How to Make a Paradise at Frankfurter Kunstverein (open until August 16). You can watch Keiken talk about the project and this exhibition on our IGTV.
How did you start Keiken?
We started Keiken when we were in Uni together. We didn’t really know what we wanted to do – just that we wanted to collaborate. Our individual practices were very different, but we had mutual interests and respect for each other’s work.
One day we sat in Izzy’s room, this surreal room with pink flamingos everywhere, and made a glorious mind map to figure out what combines all our practices. We came to the conclusion that all our work centers around experience. Whether that means we want to push the boundaries of experiencing art itself or experience on the level of consciousness.
‘Keiken’ means experience in Japanese; the name has been a very good anchoring point for our collaboration when we weren’t sure where we were going with it.
How was it combining your separate visions and practices?
In the beginning, we pulled together our dissertations and read through them and started drawing these connections between each other’s research. At that stage, it was almost like all of our research became each other’s research.
But it’s taken many years to be able to combine our practices. It’s in the last year and a half that we started to fully merge it in a way that felt like we were projecting what we were thinking or internalizing.
When we graduated, we knew the direction we wanted to go, but we hadn’t learned the digital skills to do that, so we had to build that knowledge. We’ve spent a lot of time recognizing what we all enjoy individually about creating and then facilitating that within the group.
Do you feel like you now have found a collaborative voice and point of view?
We are at a point where our work is expressing what we are saying amongst one another and formulating the vision of our world. But it’s an ongoing and adapting process. There’s no endpoint, it’s a continuation of learning, and often learning through mistakes. It’s ever-evolving, and we want it to be very fluid and adaptable.
How do you define this point of view?
We often say that we “Reflect on the contemporary as though the now is history.” That means looking at current issues, whether they are political or economic, has to do with climate change, etcetera, and dissecting them and creating this bird’s eye perspective where we reconstruct and build speculative narratives around them.