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Port of Entry Podcast: Borderless Artist Found His Voice In Tijuana

In this photo taken in July, 2021, "Port of Entry" host Alan Lilienthal and transborder artist Shinpei Takeda stand inside an installation by Takeda on view at CECUT through Aug. 8.
Kinsee Morlan
In this photo taken in July, 2021, "Port of Entry" host Alan Lilienthal and transborder artist Shinpei Takeda stand inside an installation by Takeda on view at CECUT through Aug. 8.
In this “Tour Guide” bonus episode, borderless artist Shinpei Takeda takes us on a tour of his exhibition, “Fantasia Moral” (“Moral Fantasy”), which is showing at the art museum in Tijuana, CECUT, through Aug. 8.

Shinpei Takeda grew up crossing international borders.

Eventually, the Japanese artist landed in San Diego, where he founded The AjA Project, a San Diego-based nonprofit that focuses on teaching kids how to use photography and art to tell their own stories.

But Takeda says the individualistic culture of the U.S. pushed him to move south of the border, to Tijuana. It was in the border city where he says he learned to start calling himself an artist.

“I was wanting to find my voice here in TJ,” Takeda says. “People are just doing things from nothing. And that really gave me the courage and guts to start making my stuff.”

These days, Takeda lives in Germany and is truly a global, borderless artist who travels all over the world showing his art. But the crucial role Tijuana played in his career is one he’ll never forget. It’s why he’s currently in Tijuana while his exhibition, “Moral Fantasies,” is on view at Centro Cultural Tijuana, or CECUT.

A retrospective of sorts, the exhibition includes new and old sculptures, installations, a documentary film and other multimedia works. It’s on view at CECUT through Aug. 8.

In a short, bonus episode of KPBS’ border podcast, “Port of Entry,” Takeda takes us on a tour of his show and explains how borders have shaped his life and career.

“What you learn from living a transborder life is that there's always a way of going through the border,” he says. “The point is not to break down the wall. You just have to find the back door.”