Aki Onda has channelled the spirit of the late Korean artist Nam June Paik via radio transmission in Nam June’s Spirit Was Speaking to Me (2017/2021). Paik is known for his association with shamanism, a practice that consistently surfaces in his works. With a portable radio in hand, Onda communicates with his spirit from a distance—collecting field recordings of cryptic broadcasts and messages on anonymous radio stations. The series of séances has been conducted in different cities across the globe, beginning in Seoul, Korea in 2010 and continuing in Cologne, Germany in 2012, Wrocław, Poland in 2013, and Lewisburg, United States in 2014. This work was originally commissioned by documenta 14’s radio program Every Time A Ear di Soun in 2017.
From March 26 to June 5, 2022, Aki Onda will present Nam June’s Spirit Was Speaking to Me through microbroadcasting and printed matter at the Toronto Biennial of Art. Broadcasting over two frequencies (88.5 FM and 106.5 FM) that cover the exhibition site of 72 Perth Ave in Toronto, radios are placed as part of the exhibition to symbolize sound waves in the air. The audio work exists as invisible yet discrete and perceptible through the proper medium, recalling the ritual of channeling spirits. Bring your own radio to catch the frequencies.
Onda is also bringing Nam June’s Spirit Was Speaking to Me to the international radio waves in a series of international public programs. The program will play, uninterrupted and in its entirety of 50 minutes. For Onda, those broadcasts are a response to how Nam June Paik spread his ideas through TV cable networks and connected to a large number of people at a global scale.
Made possible by the generous support of The Japan Foundation.
Aki Onda (born in 1967, Nara, Japan; lives and works in Mito, Japan) is an artist and composer. His works are often catalyzed by and structured around memories—personal, collective, historical—such as his widely-known project, Cassette Memories (2004–ongoing), drawn from three decades of field recordings. Crossing genres, he has been active internationally in art, film, music and performance. His artistic collaborators include Michael Snow, Ken Jacobs, Loren Connors, David Toop and Akio Suzuki.