Meet our +Lab Artist-In-Residence Fellow: Tina Takemoto


In March 2018, Little Tokyo Service Center launched their inaugural +LAB Artist Residency Program, a three-month residency designed to immerse artists in the experience of the Little Tokyo community. The four chosen Fellows will create artworks and projects promoting community engagement, focused on this year’s theme of “Community Control and Self-Determination”. Each Fellow is co-hosted by a local arts organization, and Visual Communications is proud to host Tina Takemoto, a Bay-area based Visual Artist.

Learn more about our Artist-In-Residence Tina Takemoto and her project.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.

I am a San Francisco-based artist and scholar whose work focuses on Japanese American identity, sexuality, and historical memory through experimental film and video. My recent work explores the hidden dimensions of same-sex intimacy and queer sexuality in Japanese American wartime history. For me, filmmaking and archival research can provide powerful forms of creative inquiry and community engagement.

What pushed you to apply for the +LAB Artist-In-Residence (AIR) Program?

I was excited by +LAB’s immersive three-month residency program and the opportunity to work closely with other artists and organizations to create community-based projects in Little Tokyo. I am thrilled to work closely with the amazing individuals that make up Visual Communications and to explore the treasures held within their tremendous VC Vault of photographs and moving imagery.

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Describe your project and how it relates to the theme of “Community Control and Self-Determination.”

The theme “Community Control and Self Determination” resonates with my desire to use archival research and experimental filmmaking as a mode of critical inquiry, creative placemaking, and community empowerment. My project explores Little Tokyo’s complex histories by researching photographs, documents, and moving images related to Little Tokyo’s Historic District. I am developing a multisensory timeline displaying the changing terrain of businesses, dwellings, and cultural institutions that make up First Street North. I am also conducting film workshops introducing DIY cameraless techniques (drawing, scratching, and scotch tape transfers) on 16mm film that will culminate in a cinematic portrait of Little Tokyo.

What was the inspiration behind your project?

Walking along the sidewalk of East First Street, I was struck by the inscriptions commemorating the early decades of Little Tokyo. My project expands this timeline to connect Little Tokyo's pre-war era with its rich histories of Bronzeville, anti-Vietnam War protests, Redress, and current struggles for self-determination and community control. I was also inspired by the educational box set publication of “Asian American People and Places” produced by Visual Communications in 1972 to highlight the breadth and depth of Asian American communities in Los Angeles.


What do you wish to accomplish by the end of the program?

I hope that my project and research can serve as a resource to community activists, artists, and organizations committed to Little Tokyo’s legacy and ongoing fight for sustainability, justice, and self-determination.  

Check out this post to read about Tina’s most recent +LAB AIR workshop, Touch Little Tokyo: DIY Film Workshop, in collaboration with the Echo Park Film Center.

To see Tina in action, check out her upcoming events:

Wayward Emulsions: Films by Tina Takemoto, July 13, 8pm @ EPFC

DELICIOUS LITTLE TOKYO 2018: Food on First: DIY Art + Film Workshop with Susu Attar and Tina Takemoto, July 21, 1-3pm @ 341 E. First St.

Learn more about Tina and her work here.

Click here to learn more about LTSC's +Lab Artist Residency Program.