Category Archives: Japanese Lesson


»Japanese Lesson« started in 2009 as a zine and projection – an associative mash-up containing material interesting for a ‚search for Japan‘. Ever since the projection is growing, and
»Japanese Lesson« is developping — including works about music- and subculture, discrimination/activism/politics/borders, urbanism/city developpement or Olympia 2020. »Japanese Lesson« also brings together individual works by Katja Stuke and Oliver Sieber regarding music- and subculture and other works they produced since their first artist residency in Osaka in 2006.

In this project information you find information about Katja Stuke and Oliver Sieber, their works regarding Japan, about the current state of »Japanese Lesson«: images and publications or zines each with a different focus, different versions of exhibitions and a video projection.

Japanese Lesson is a project by Katja Stuke (*1968) and Oliver Sieber (*1966), both live and work in Düsseldorf, Germany. They work together since 1999.
Katja Stuke and Oliver Sieber have become international traveling salesmen in the field of photography, who feel more at home on the road than they do in their atelier in Düsseldorf. Like no other German artists of their generation, they have portrayed the everyday culture of Japan in their works or turned the mythic locations of film into a subject of photography. (Florian Ebner, 2011)

In 2015 an exhibition of »Japanese Lesson« at the Filmwerkstatt Düsseldorf focused on the topic of protest and activism including photographs, video-projection, toys and publications.
The show alsoincluded the film »Diamond hour« (1994, by D.K. Uragi starring Ms. Glorias, Teiji Furuhashi and Bubu de la Madeleine/Dump Type) and several documentary videos of performances by ChimPom)

During a residency in Tokyo in 2017 they continued working on the aspects of art
and activism, focussing on political landscape urban development, changes in cities,
the influence of society and politics on how our environment constantly changes.

Since 2005 we have been traveling to Japan, working on topics like subculture, music, surveillance and more.
Since 2011 we are developing the Japanese Lesson. At the beginning it was a projection including our own photographs from the first years  — juxtaposed with found footage: images and drawing from mangas and animes, still images from japanese movies,
historical and current photographs – things we where interested in at that time.
At the moment the Lesson can be: different versions of exhibitions, different zines or
publications each with a different focus; or maybe a sound installation in the future—
who knows. (Our main understanding of  Japanese Lesson: things we learn ‚in search for Japan‘ and can pass on. It will continue – this recent book is not the final or only result.
In the last years (since Fukushima) we met artists and activist,  became friends — and
through them we understood more and more about Japanese society and history, we joined rallies and protests . (»Tokyo No hate« 68 pages, 19 x 27 cm, black and white
Xerox print.
For the extensive new book »Japanese Lesson« we took photographs while walking on the borders of certain neighborhoods in Osaka and Tokyo which still have to deal with prejudices and discrimination because of several (historic and present) reasons. While walking around these areas we where thinking and discussing topics like ‚political landscapes’, ‚borders‘ how a neighborhood can define your identity, ‚who owns the cities’… and more.

We also walked around parts of Tokyo which currently change for the future, mainly
because of the 2020 Olympic Games. In the book the topics of ‚changing cities in the
past and in the future’ are brought together.
On each of all our walks we took images around on a regular basis – depending on time or distance.
The black pages in this book include the missing images from other missing districs – put on top of each other until they became quite black.

There is a third small publication »A Colour Guide« showing details of architecture and
nature. We where wondering if there are similarities between the colors in old parts (‚deep Japan’) of japanese cities and the 63 colors of Le Corbusier.

colours nohate


Books have always been an important part of our artistic practice – in our independent as well as the collaborative projects.
The process of developing a project often gets clear when looking at the dummies. In some cases you already know how the book will look like while shooting the images. In that case you rather need a dummy but you might need to work hard on the concept of an exhibition. In other cases you are very sure about the whole concept of a book but you need to try several different forms of the book, develop the editing of the images, change decisions about size, paper or book-binding.

We often start projects with a Zine in a smaller edition of 105 copies. There we juxtapose images, develop the topics and very often understand the Zine as a part of a larger concept which could include a web-based project, an exhibition or a video.
We exhibited various forms of Japanese Lesson several times before, always changing, including for the most part a very fast projection of our own photographs we took in Japan over the last 11 years alternating with found footage like maps, historic photos or paintings, pop-culture-images, drawings, mangas or animes giving an insight into our growing and developing personal knowledge about Japan. The presentations also included framed photos of protestors and activists in recent history, different zines, edited by the audience, collections of toys, books by other artists from our own photobook library – every time a different selection or compilation.

Until now we could never decide to work on Japanese Lesson as a book. In this exhibition at CCCB in Barcelona you can follow the process of creation, understand our communication and collaboration, get and idea about what the book will be someday – including new works, images from older series or photographs we took in Japan since 2005. The video includes more than 700 images – our own photographs, historic photos, photos from newspapers, magazines, advertising, mangas, still-images from movies, drawings, paintings or photographs by artists, maps, street-views and much more.


In 2015 the exhibition Japanese Lesson at the Filmwerkstatt Düsseldorf focused on the topic of protest and activism including photographs, video-projection, toys and publications ( »März Heft« and »Protest Diary«). The show also included the film »Diamond hour« (1994, by D.K. Uragi starring Ms. Glorias, Teiji Furuhashi and Bubu de la Madeleine/Dump Type) and several documentary videos of performances by Chim↑Pom)

DSC05044Böhm / Kobayashi(ベーム/コバヤシ)来日記念 カティア・ストゥーケ×オリバー・ジーバー×卯城竜太(Chim↑Pom) 特別トークショー「芸術実行論」
IMA Concept Store, April 9, 2015

Böhm #41, Das März Heft
16 Pages, 21 x 29,7 cm each issue contains a different editing of 8 images out of 99 images taken in Tokyo, Miyagi and Osaka in march 2012 Edition of 3 x #35


In 2012 the Kunstverein Leverkusen exhibited works by Takashi Homma, Rinko Kawauchi, Karianne Bueno, Kai-Uwe Gundlach, Jens Liebchen, Jochen Manz, Nina Poppe and The Japanese Lesson as a pop-up exhibition, including projections, books, music, food (in collaboration with Michiko Shida) and photographs.

japaneselesson_braunschweig japaneselesson_braunschweig2

As part of Katja Stuke’s and Oliver Sieber’s exhibition Our House at the Photomuseum Braunschweig (curated by Florian Ebner) the Japanese Lesson consisted of a projection and an installation including their japanese toy-collection.


At the beginning, the Japanese Lesson was presented and exhibited as a slideshow, including found images, images by Katja Stuke & Oliver Sieber and english-japanese-phrases. It was shown as part of new talents by nüans in 2008 for the first time. In the following years Katja Stuke & Oliver Sieber where invited to show the Japanese Lesson at WG/3Zi/Kü/Bar (by Markus Ambach and Birgit Jensen) or Berger Kirche Düsseldorf.


During an ArtEX residency in Osaka in 2006 Katja Stuke and Oliver Sieber started a
photo-blog, a chain of association. They invited photographers, artists, friends in
Germany, Japan, Canada, Romania, from South America, Turkey, the Baltic Countries,
the Netherlands, South Korea to take part, to post pictures to the blog. Each picture
was an answer, an opposite, a challenge, a formal context or a similar topic to the
picture before.  The blog was online for one year and  exhibited at CASO, Contemporary
Art Space Osaka in 2006. The publication was produced in 2007, supported by the
Goethe Institut, Munich.