Crease, Fold and Bend exhibition artist Carlos Runcie-Tanaka is one of Peru’s most important artists. He has represented Peru at international biennials including the 4th and 5th Havana Biennial, the 49th Venice Biennale, the 8th Cuenca Biennial, and the 26th São Paulo Biennial.
Originally a ceramicist, Runcie-Tanaka has used a variety of other media over the past several years and currently works with installation, site-specific works, and video production. His work operates on many social, cultural, and political levels and stems from his experiences living in Peru as a descendant of British and Japanese grandfathers, who arrived by sea to Peru in the 1920s. His Japanese grandfather was among immigrants to Peru looking for new opportunities and their descendants are members of a substantial Japanese-Peruvian community.
The Lafayette site-specific installation, Cloud, includes 36 folded white crabs—a potent symbol of migration, displacement, cultural identity, and adaptation. The artwork speaks eloquently about the journeys of his two grandfathers, who immigrated to Peru in the 1920s. “They came by boat. I felt that they were like crabs that get stranded on the sand away from their homes. The crabs represent the meeting point between land and sea, of issues of migration, cultural identity, and adaptation.”
In the related video, Uno/One, 2000, Runcie–Tanaka’s hands are seen folding a crab starting from a square sheet of paper to completion.
Crabs have become a metaphor for life and continuity for me. When I fold crabs with paper—in the origami technique—one repeats very old movements, precise and accurate movements… like the movements of crabs on the sand… the paper is folded over and over again, giving way to memory and a special state whereby time stretches and elongates almost indefinitely.
And in the video Desplazamientos/Displacements, 2004
Ayer me fui al mar a comer arena y no sé si me tragué el principio o el fin del universo.
Yesterday I went to the sea to eat sand and do not know if I swallowed the beginning or the end of the Universe.