Art of 3.11 Memorialization
Monday, July 1st (1pm-5pm) Sophia University, bldg. 10, room 301
Between Worlds: Spirit Mediumship and Memories of War in the Wake of the Triple Disaster
Ellen Schattschneider (Anthropology, Brandeis University)
My paper explores the many ways in which spirit mediumship and related memorialization complexes in Tōhoku, many of them deeply influenced by Japan's wartime experience, have been mobilised in the wake of the triple disaster, as individuals and communities seek to come to terms with diverse legacies of mass loss and provide measures of solace to the spirits of the dead. I discuss the work of an Aomori playwright and director, whose plays have contemplated the nuclearization of the region. In one work he imagines a local high school baseball team, coached by an elderly “itako” spirit medium, who helps the living team members embody the wounded souls of another baseball team, lost in the tsunami, as well as a famous pre-war baseball pitcher who perished as a soldier in World War II. To what extent, more broadly, are ritual practices and aesthetics grounded in the history of the Asia-Pacific War being appropriated and refashioned in the shadow of 3.11?
Ellen Schattschneider is a sociocultural anthropologist specializing in psychoanalytic, phenomenological and practice approaches to culture. She has strong ethnographic interests in East Asia, especially Japan. She received undergraduate training in philosophy, psychology and anthropology at Sarah Lawrence College, and graduate training in anthropology at the University of Chicago. Her principal ethnographic work has been conducted in the Tsugaru region of northern Tōhoku, in southern Kyushu, in Okinawa, and in Micronesia. Dr. Schattschneider's academic writings give particular attention to ritual performance, gender and embodiment, spirit mediumship, sacred landscapes, visuality and the power of images, popular religious experience and comparative capitalist cultures.
Historicizing Ikeda Manabu’s Recent Art Responding to the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake
Ikeda Asato (Art History, Smithsonian)
In January 2013, Ikeda Manabu released his latest work titled Meltdown at the West Vancouver Museum in Canada. By applying acrylic ink on paper with pen, the artist drew an incredible image that, with its concise, blunt, and even shocking title, unquestionably refers to the meltdown of three nuclear power plants at Fukushima Daiichi in Northeastern Japan after the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Ikeda Manabu’s art adds a new chapter to the long history of nuclear art in Japan, which started with depictions of atomic bomb victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The question is, what kind of chapter will that be? What does Ikeda’s art mean to the larger discourse of contemporary society and art? In this presentation, I will first introduce Ikeda, the foremost Japanese contemporary artist, and discuss his work Meltdown in the context of the 2011earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis and Japan’s previous nuclear catastrophe of Hiroshima and its art. I will ultimately consider the recent social and artistic trends that his art is reflecting.
Asato Ikeda earned her PhD from the University of British Columbia and co-edited, with Ming Tiampo and Aya Louisa McDonald, Art and War in Japan and its Empire: 1931-1960 (Brill, 2012). As the 2012-2013 Anne van Biema fellow at the Freer | Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian Institution, she is currently working on a monograph tentatively titled Soldiers and Cherry Blossoms: Japanese Art, Fascism, and World War II. She has been hired as a assistant professor at Fordham University from the fall 2013.
Lieko Shiga's Rasen Kaigan: Memorials to a Dying Village Before and After the Tsunami
Adrian Favell, Sciences Po, Paris
Without doubt, the young photographer Lieko Shiga's work Rasen Kaigan "Spiral Coast", which was seen in installments at Sendai in 2013 and at NACT, Tokyo this year, will go down as one of the most powerful artistic memorials to the 3.11 disaster. In the midst of a deep four year long ethnographic project living and working as a photographer in a small isolated “genkai shuuraku” (declining village) called Kitakama between Sendai airport and the coast, Shiga was caught up as a resident of the location when it was washed away by the tsunami. The subsequent exhibition involved a lecture series about her experience in the village and her efforts to help salvage photographic memories of the lives of the residents, and included participation from many survivors. The final work showed roughly two hundred large-scale eerie, occult images reflecting imagined stories with the peculiar "psychogeography" of the now disappeared village and its very old population, and was arranged like a spiralling graveyard of easels and photoboards in the huge open glass space of Toyo Ito's Sendai Mediatheque. Yet the final work shown, while very much in line with the themes and style of Shiga's previous series Canary, in fact only obliquely referenced the disaster. She herself has been keen to downplay the connection, clear that there is a danger that the headline story of the disaster overwhelms her broader artistic intentions and contribution. In fact, the only direct memorial part of the exhibition was the straight photo documentary magazine she also produced of events and personalities that she had taken in the three years before March 2011. My discussion will foreground the ambiguity of artistic intentions in the face of the natural disaster, which parallels the similar problem of reducing artistic intent and aesthetic imagination to the obvious "sociological" themes at stake (such as ageing Japan, social polarisation, and post-industrial landscapes).
Adrian Favell is Professor of Sociology at Sciences Po, Paris. His research covers international migration and mobilities, global cities and transnational culture in Europe, North America and Asia. A Japan Foundation/SSRC Abe Fellow in 2006-7, he recently published Before and After Superflat: A Short History of Japanese Contemporary Art 1990-2011 (Blue Kingfisher/DAP 2012). He also writes a blog for the Japanese online art magazine ART-iT, and has published reviews and feature articles in Art Forum, Art in America and Bijutsu Techo. www.adrianfavell.com
Catastrophic Photography: Enigmas of the Image after 3.11
Marilyn Ivy (Anthropology, Columbia University)
There is nothing more predictable than the visual drive to document the aftermath of a disaster. Indeed, in the hyperdigital age, documents (if, indeed, that word is still the proper one) of disaster are multifarious, instant, and massively circulated. Contemporary technologies of reproduction of course wildly exceed the historical capacities of the still camera. Yet (still), still photography continues to perdure, not least as professional “art” photography, remaining as a type of aesthetic reserve within the ceaseless innovations of aesthetic technologies (and that is not to say that digitalization has not transformed much photographic practice). Thinking through the photography of catastrophe (and the catastrophe of photography: the catastrophe that it constituted, at its inception, for the given nature of the visible world), I intend to look closely at a range of photographers and their photographs in the aftermath of 3.11. What do photographs of catastrophe disclose? What, if anything, is different about this catastrophe, or are we authorized to think generically about catastrophe (if that is the word), in general? What was, is, the labor of photography in the wake of the deluge, this deluge (and its atomic afterdeaths?). I will draw on the photographic works of Miyoshi Kôzô, Hatakeyama Naoya, and Shiga Lieko (among others), in an effort to think again the relationship of catastrophe and Japanese photography now.
Marilyn Ivy is professor of anthropology at Columbia University. She is the author of a number of works concerned with modernity in Japan and the question of culture. Her book Discourses of the Vanishing: Modernity, Phantasm, Japan won the Hiromi Arisawa Memorial Award in 1996. She has published essays on Japanese folklorism, neonationalism and criminality, contemporary art and youth, photography and marginality, and theories of mass culture. She is currently working on a book about aesthetics and politics in the post-3.11 present.
3.11 TSUNAMI 2011
Ryuji Miyamoto (Kobe Design University)
3.11 TSUNAMI 2011 is a series of video productions using raw video recordings of the tsunami attacks on March 11th, 2011, taken by Mr. Hashime Seto, Ms. Moriko Ikeda and Mr. Kenzaburo Kobayashi, who live in the neighboring villages in Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture. As an addition to these raw footages, Ryuji Miyamoto interviewed those who took the recordings, and asked them about the situation at the time and also about their everyday lives prior to and after that catastrophic day. The series thus includes three similarly structured 30-minute videos, all of which consist simply of 1) the unedited footage of the tsunami attack and 2) the interview of the survivor who took it.
This “minimalist” approach that Miyamoto took in the series is provocatively different from the approach he took at the time of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in 1995. The series rests on the border between art and documentary, therefore inevitably raises fundamental questions regarding to the photographer’s relationship to the disaster and its victims, and induces wider implications with the ethics of representation.
Ryuji Miyamoto was born in Tokyo in 1947. He graduated from Tama Art University (Graphic Design) in 1973 and began his career as a photographer while working as a staff editor at Jutaku Kenchiku (Residential Architecture) magazine. Many of his early photographs are of ruins of modern architecture, which can be seen in his Architectural Apocalypse (1988) and in Kowloon Walled City (1997). In 1989, he received the prestigious Ihei Kimura Prize, and then traveled to New York in 1991 as an artist in residence on a grant from the Asian Cultural Council.
In the early 1990s, he turned his eyes to the homeless in cities such as Tokyo, London and Paris, and photographed numerous cardboard houses. These works were later published as Cardboard Houses in 2003.
Later, in the mid-1990s, Miyamoto photographed the city of Kobe after the Great Hanshin Earthquake in January 1995. This series of works, titled “KOBE 1995 After the Earthquake,” led him to receive, together with two collaborator-architects Osamu Ishiyama and Yoshiaki Miyamoto, the Leone d’oro for the Best National Pavilion in 1996 at the 6th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale. He also started experimenting with life-size pinhole cameras around 2000, which are structurally similar to the cardboard houses.
After the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake, which struck Japan in March 2011, Miyamoto did not take the same approach as he had done with his photographs of Kobe city. Instead, he produced video pieces in collaboration with the local people in the villages of the Tohoku area that were heavily damaged by Tsunami.
Michio Hayashi is professor of art history at Sophia University, where he also serves as the dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts. He recently co-edited (with Doryung Chan, Fumihiko Sumitom, and Kenji Kajiya) the book From Postwar to Postmodern, Art in Japan 1945-1989: Primary Documents (Duke UP, 2012), and published the essay “Tracing the Graphic in Postwar Japanese Art” in Tokyo 1955-1970: A New Avant-Garde (MoMA, 2012). He received his MA and PhD in art history from Columbia University.
Noriko Murai is assistant professor of modern Japanese art history and visual culture at Sophia University. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University. She is the co-author of Journeys East: Isabella Stewart Gardner and Asia, with Alan Chong et al. (2009), and co-editor of Beyond Tenshin: Okakura Kakuzō’s Multiple Legacies, with Yukio Lippit (Vol. 24 of Review of Japanese Culture and Society, 2012). She contributed the essay “‘But Is It Not in Fact Leaking a Little?’” in Tsunami: Japan’s Post-Fukushima Future (ebook published by Foreign Policy, 2011), edited by Jeff Kingston; proceeds of this book go to the Japan Society for tsunami relief.