REA TAJIRI: 2023 CHICKEN & EGG AWARD RECIPIENT
Rea Tajiri (she/her) is an award-winning interdisciplinary artist and educator who creates installations, documentaries, and experimental films. Her work situates itself in poetic, non-traditional storytelling forms to encourage dialog and reflection around buried histories.
Tajiri is a Sansei who grew up in Rogers Park, Chicago, and Van Nuys, California. She earned her BFA and MFA degrees from the California Institute of the Arts where she studied post-studio art. Upon graduation, Tajiri began working in video art. Two of her early shorts were included in the Whitney Biennials of 1989 and 1991.
One of her early works, History and Memory: For Akiko & Takashige, went on to receive the Distinguished Achievement Award from IDA, a Special Jury Award from the San Francisco International Film Festival, and Best Experimental Video from the Atlanta Film and Video Festival. This documentary short has screened in over 250 venues around the world. History and Memory is distributed by Women Make Movies, Video Data Bank and EAI; it is also available on the Criterion Channel.
After completing this film, Tajiri developed an interest in the history of social movements and was approached by civil rights organizer Pat Saunders to co-produce a film on the life of Harlem human rights activist Yuri Kochiyama. They received a production grant from the PBS series POV to complete the film entitled Passion for Justice. This film is distributed by Women Make Movies.
After the completion of this documentary, Tajiri directed her debut dramatic feature film Strawberry Fields, produced by Open City Films and ITVS. Strawberry Fields received its international premiere at the Venice International Film Festival and won the Grand Prix at the Fukuoka Asian Film Festival. The film received theatrical release through Phaedra Cinema and is currently available to watch on the Criterion Channel.
Tajiri has received fellowships for her work from the Pew Fellowships in the Arts, the Leeway Transformation Award, The Rockefeller Foundation, NEA Visual Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She has also received support for her work from Independence Media, CAAM Documentary Fund, ITVS Open Call, ITVS Diversity Development Fund, and JustFilms/Ford Foundation. Since 1989, Tajiri has had an ongoing collaboration with choreographer Kate Foley designing video set projections for her dance concerts. Foley choreographed dance set pieces for Tajiri’s short films Aloha and Little Murders, and appears in Tajiri’s video Hitchcock Trilogy.
Tajiri has been a visiting filmmaker at numerous universities and colleges across the country including Hampshire College, University of Colorado Boulder, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, University of California Santa Barbara, Georgetown University, Smith College, Brown University, and was a Visiting Professor at School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She is currently an Associate Professor at Temple University, Film Media Arts.
In 2014, Rea Tajiri completed her feature-length documentary Lordville. This hybrid documentary was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at CAAMFest and VCFest. The film was screened recently at Yerba Buena Arts Center. Her current 2022 documentary feature, Wisdom Gone Wild, has won five awards including Audience Award & Jury Award, Honorable Mention at Blackstar Film Festival; Grand Jury Prize & Centerpiece Film at San Diego Asian Film Festival; Audience Choice & Best Documentary at Philadelphia Asian Film Festival. Wisdom screened in the International Competition at IDFA 2022, and in the American Lives section at DOC NYC 2022.