History Repeated by Democracy II – Resetting History

post: 2013/06/10

During the second period of stay I brought up the topic of how history had been repeated due to democracy. I did so because the date of the final presentation was March 11th, 2013. On that same day in 2011, a part of Japanese history was reset, and many things were planned and valued anew from March 12th. And then in the 2012 lower-house election, Shinzo Abe was elected prime minister once again. Five years ago in 2007, when he was prime minister, March 11th had been just an ordinary day.

For my presentation, I prepared newspaper editions from March 11th, 2007 – the Asahi Newspaper, the Mainichi Newspaper, the Yomiuri Newspaper and the Nikkei Newspaper. I divided my presentation into two parts: The newspapers were first exhibited and then later read out by the attendees. The participants read the name of the newspaper, the date and article chosen by themselves. Through this, March 11th, 2007, was repeatedly emphasized, bringing to the fore little by little the difference between the years. For example, in international politics at that time, America was still under the Bush regime, mobile phones were a comparatively older design, and advertisements for construction companies were still full of hope. Questions were also raised about resolutions for the issue of the wartime comfort women and the attitudes of China.

When I heard the people reading out the texts, I not only felt a kind of nostalgia, I was also astonished how many things I had forgotten. We tend to think our memory is perfect when we evaluate things, but this is a strange thing to think. Nobody knows what he or she was doing five years ago on a certain day.

On March 11th, 2011, a part of Japanese history was reset, but this sort of resetting is exactly what art creators have to attempt to do in their work. They can pull audiences into a situation, where planning and evaluation are conducted anew and the creators themselves are reset every time, collecting new material and then engaging with the next work. Through the residency, the artists and curators were “reset” to a certain extent. Due to this I hope for dialogue on what kind of new works they will create in the future.