Nomadic Artist in Residence Program in The Philippines [Feb – March 2015: Terue Yamauchi]

February 6th, 2015 |  Published in News

Terue Yamauchi [1982] is an interdisciplinary artist based in Fukuoka, Japan. For her art research, Terue Yamauchi explored the life culture of small fishing communities in Mindanao, including a remote paradisiacal island in Surigao del Sur and the Bajau communities in Davao. Residency project assisted by Ivan Zaldarriaga and Angely Chi.

“How can I inherit a world view by living it that emerges from confronting myself with many other ways of living, not limited to that of humans’ but of many other living beings? Every act of my living as an artist has this question flowing beneath like ground water. Without life, there is no art, and not vice versa”.

* Please refer to the following projects on Terue Yamauchi’s website to see related works: “You Are Here” (2014), “First Cry” (2013), “Murute” (2011/2012), “Before Daybreak” (2011).


Yamauchi had a public presentation of her work on her one-month artist residency with the fisherfolks of the Surigao del Sur island, and with the Sama Dilaut on March 11th at the Brgy. Matina Aplaya Gym in Davao; and in the evening, the artist met and networked with local artists in Davao at Silingan art space.

With the support of “Overseas Study Program for Artists”, the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan and our local partners the Barangay Matina Aplaya LGU. Thanks to: Adjari family, Badjao Association of Matina Aplaya, and Studiobugsy / Origane Films for providing technical assistance.

For pictures, check Terue Yamauchi’s album on Facebook!

Project Proposal and Background

‘Over the past four years, I have been exploring the life culture of female free diving fishery practiced in Japan, the North Pacific Island of Jeju and some parts of Korean Peninsula, known as Sea Women in English, Ama in Japan and Jamu-su or Haenyeo in Korean. It is an ancient and fast vanishing tradition that now consists predominantly of fifty to eighty-year-old women who dive to depths of up to 20 meters with no oxygen supply to catch seafood and collect seaweed.

I have produced and internationally exhibited a series of works that stemmed from personally and deeply engaging with individual divers I encountered with through the course of my exploration taken place at about seven historically connected locations across the sea, while at the same time continuously questioning on future of such ancient life culture and how art/my practice can relate to it.

For me, they are one of the most inspiring living example of ways of human being, the living embodiment of the life culture nurtured by the sea, carried by tides and currents that inspire me a worldview seen from the sea, departing from conventional continental view points fixated with national borders, a conceptual compass to explore human experience.

In 2013, as a way to pursuit my exploration, I attended a traditional diving school in Jeju Island while living with a local grandmother diver. There, I came across an essay by Professor Cynthia Neri Zayas, a maritime anthropologist at University of the Philippines, entitled “Ama (women divers) culture as a relic linking maritime Philippine culture.” Her inspiring and imaginative essay linking contemporary Philippines’ Bajau and Visayan fisheries with Ama traditional culture has greatly encouraged me to expand my focal point of the fishery tradition into something being part of much wider current of maritime human practice beyond the strait between Korean and Japan, and has inspired me to envision a grand seascape, an imaginative trail of journey that ancestors of these divers may had traveled all the way from/to the Southern sea. As I recently wrote to Professor Zayas, she greatly encouraged me to explore islands and regions in the Philippines.

I am greatly interested in visiting some of those regions and to work toward new phase of my project exploring worldviews and contemporary human experience pursuit from sea. As I am not a researcher, I do not intend to carry out a research in an academic manner, but to physically be present in a space and time where everyday of people living by small-scale fishery takes place, observe carefully with my own eyes, record/document with various medium (video, sound, photography, drawing, writing etc) and when possible, gradually to have personal contact with them, meanwhile experiment ways of expressing and conveying visions, thoughts or ideas I may be inspired of. And I believe that The Unifiedfield residency program would be a great opportunity for me to do so in the middle of inspiring natural and cultural environment’.

With the support of The Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan.

Terue Yamauchi interviewed by Film Diaries

This is the story of Terue Yamauchi who Film Diaries encountered at Hansupul Haenyeo School in Jejudo. Defining ‘Haenyeo’ (women divers) as the ‘living heritage,’ she immerses herself in the life of Haenyeo to understand and experience their culture.