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Japan in the eyes of a European woman: the movie “The Sound of Water” by artist SofijaSilvia (Pula, Croatia)

Every year, EU-Japan Fest Japan Committee cooperates with the European Capitals of Culture, so in 2020 EU-Japan fest cooperated with Rijeka 2020 – ECOC. Namely, on the basis of this long-term Euro-Japanese friendship, one photographer is selected from each country of the capital of culture to travel to Japan for a month and take photos in one of the Japanese prefectures in a project called European Eyes on Japan.


Based on the submitted project proposal, curator Mikiko Kikuta this time chose an artist from Pula, SofijaSilvia who was given the opportunity to visit Mie situated close to the center of Japan, which, as she emphasizes, was an exceptional experience for her.

Mie is known for the oldest and holiest Shinto shrines.

Ise-City where I lived is the “capital” of Shintoism, there are the two main shrines Gegu and Naigu, and in and around the city there are over a hundred other shrines. The peculiarity is that Ise-City is part of a national park called Ise-Shima. It tells us the story of how Shinto shrines during World War II, when wood was desperately needed, preserved old Japanese forests from devastation. That is why, for example, most of today’s Japanese forests are artificial, homogeneous in terms of tree species and very well planted, says SofijaSilvia.

Shinto talks about the unity of human beings and their environment, attitude and consciousness that are crucial today, continues SofijaSilvia, because our perception of nature needs to change for the purpose of survival. That was my starting point for the project. I haven’t documented Shinto directly, but it runs through the project. It was interesting for me to see how this reflects on people’s lives and behavior, given that in my work I explore and try to understand the position of man in relation to nature.

The ecological crisis we are going through, the huge number of fires around the world in recent years, as well as the current crisis with the corona virus, confirm that we need a new awareness in order to survive, SofijaSilvia said for Vizkultura.

This commendable project was supposed to end, as in previous years, with an exhibition of photographs by SofijaSilvia in Rijeka, in the Irish European Capital of Culture Galway and in Japan, but due to unfavorable circumstances related to the covida-19 pandemic, the artist presents a cycle created in Japan in the movie form “The Sound of Water ”.


SofijaSilvia(Silvia Potočki)

SofijaSilvia’s work is characterised by a poetic approach to nature, history, and human psychology. Her work has been widely exhibited in museums and galleries in Croatia and internationally, including Krinzinger Projekte Vienna (2019), Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik (2017), Institut Français (2017), Museum of Contemporary Art of Istria (2016), Museum for Modern and Contemporary Art Rijeka (2011), Camera Austria, Graz (2008), Art Pavilion, Zagreb (2008).

Her work has been published internationally in the UK Dazed and Confused magazine, Austrian Camera Austria International, Czech Blok, Fotograf and Elle, Slovenian Fotografija and Emzin, and Croatian Kontura, Čovjek i prostor and Oris.

In 2011 Croatian National Television produced two documentaries about her work ‘SofijaSilvia – Photography in Croatia’ and ‘Sofija’s World’. SofijaSilvia studied photography at FAMU in Prague, Czech Republic, before obtaining her MA at Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design, London. She has recently been awarded residencies with EU Japan Fest for the program realised in collaboration with European Capital of Culture, Rijeka, Croatia ‘European Eyes on Japan'(2019), with European AIR Kuberton / Krinzinger (Croatia, 2018) and the Institut Français (Paris, 2017).

She used to run Singular Galerija, a non-profit gallery for contemporary art Singular, in Pula, Croatia. The gallery had an international exhibition and residency program.
She also coordinated workshops, lectures and curated exhibitions of young and upcoming artists and designers. This all combined to create a platform for exchange for emerging artists in Croatia. (2013-2018).

Her work is in major Croatian and international public and private collections.

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