Theme and Topics
Tohoku is a "fluid" site. It is the northern region of Japan, which lies between the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean. It is also a site of pilgrimages to Mt. Osore, which is located on a far North Eastern peninsula and known as a place of passage between life and death. Our event focuses on this "between states" of crisis and passage. Among the questions we wish to address are: What is the relationship of specific geographies to the identity of a nation? How do certain regions become marked by strange or otherworldly qualities? How do these myths of place contribute to the expansive history of a nation and the local history of the inhabitants? What happens to the cultural ecology of a place when it is irreparably devastated and indefinitely quarantined? When disasters strike, whether slowly or suddenly, human induced or nature driven, what are the ways we deal with the immediate and long-term repair and change? What role have the arts played in this and other fluid states of crisis and recovery?
Following the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear melt down, Tohoku experienced increased economic hardships, which added to its spiritual burden of being a place of aversion. At the same time, the commitment of the local population to recovery has gained increasing momentum.
While our location near the city of Aomori is not directly linked to the Fukushima nuclear disaster, we are aware of its proximity to the triple disaster, not to mention Aomori’s own nuclear plants, and its own eccentric reputation. It is a perfect site for our conference event for many reasons. Among our related topics, we are interested in investigating place-based crisis cultures, locally and globally. In what ways does local geography and its memorialized histories become part of national consciousness? In what ways does disaster, human-made or otherwise, shift values and needs in the moment and over time? How do these shifts change our ways of being in that place and in the world? How do artists respond to large-scale disaster and its aftermath? What can art making do in the continuing crisis of disaster? How do national enterprises use or abuse the arts in times of devastation?
On an individual level, how does memory act on the devastating event? What are the workings of memory and event? How can we create art that questions, moving us deeper into the event and allowing us perspective and critical distance? Memory, place, ancestors, actions all form a woven fabric of the event: How are these things sometimes contaminated and in need of renewal? What can be "beyond" disaster, difficulty, and/or the weight of time and place?
Tohoku is also the birthplace of butoh dancer Hijikata Tatsumi and avant-garde playwright and director, Terayama Shuji. Both artists dealt directly with states of crisis and critical re-imagination of Japan. Our host institution, Keio University Art Center is the repository for the Hijikata Archive and our conference host site, Aomori Art Museum, holds a collection of Terayama's art works as well as artifacts of the ancient Jomon culture of Japan.
We encourage researchers and performers to engage in discussions and interventions around the key working group themes of: corporeality, performance, pilgrimage, and place. This conference will afford us the opportunity to sound out and struggle with the borderlines between the extraordinary and the everyday, and how the arts in times of critical upheavals deal with political and spiritual crises.
4 July 2014 [revised: 1 June 2015]
Hayato Kosuge, Katherine Mezur, Peter Eckersall, Takashi Morishita, Yu Homma
- Bodies contaminated, purged, purified
- Domesticated and floating performance
- Spirituality and Performance
- Pilgrimage and Performance
- Tohoku and Avant-garde
- Hijikata Tatsumi and Terayama Shuji … and more.
Reference: Call for Presentations [closed]