28 April 2024

Wilderness Operating Procedure

Amy Yoshitsu constructs new
urban landscapes


by Kate Mothes

For the past nine years, Amy Yoshitsu has kept her camera close as she takes walks through cities around the U.S. where she’s lived and worked, snapping photos of buildings, traffic lights, electrical wires, and roads. She prints the photographs, cuts around walls, windows, street lamps, and telephone poles, then curls and interlocks the pieces together to compose undulating, blossoming forms.

“I believe what we see around us—the landscape and buildings, the types of labor and activities, the aesthetic and technological choices and conditions—plays a role in who we are while our lineages inform how we make sense of it all,” Yoshitsu says. Her walks provide the foundation for three-dimensional psychogeographic maps, miniaturizing and deconstructing built environments as a conduit to honor interconnected communities, history, labor, and ancestry. She also considers the darker legacies of colonialism and racial hierarchies, drawing on her family heritage in China and Japan and grappling with generational trauma. The paper constructions posit new versions of familiar places.

In addition to the physical assemblages, Yoshitsu digitally superimposes images of the sculptures onto photos of urbanized landscapes, from marine ports to highway interchanges. “A central theme of my work is the toxic—and ultimately futile—desire for control,” she says. Buildings and roads contort into visual riddles made of delicate, everyday, biodegradable material that “speaks both to the fragility of our physical world and to the swirl of emotions and ideas entangled in our complex society.”

Find more on Yoshitsu’s website and Instagram.

All images © Amy Yoshitsu

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