Communities, Hybrid-Gatherings and Orange Collectives (Part 3) -Touring the Gwangju Biennale-
Kinan Art Week Yabumoto Yuto
5 Shifting ‘Sovereignty’
The theme of the Gwangju Biennial discussed in this paper is ‘Transient Sovereignty’.
As I mentioned in the first part and the second part 2, based on the ideas of ‘war and revolution’ in the 20th century and the ideas of ‘others’ and ‘communities’ in the post-war period, we are dismantling ‘subject’ and ‘sovereignty.’ We are doing this without over-dismantling them, to manifest a community that encompasses this ‘in-between.’ This is exactly the fruit for which our Orange Collective is looking.
According to the statement in Transient Sovereignty, I will rethink the contemporary ‘other’ through topics including diaspora, such as migrants and refugees, in the context of the history of colonialism and globalization. It also seeks to question the nature of ‘institutions’ and ‘knowledge’ in contemporary society by presenting the history of the colonization of Asia and Africa by European and Japanese empires, and the economic/military violence of the US, Russia and China in the contemporary era, and the traces of resistance against them.
(1) Bare Life
Nancy’s ‘Inaction Communities’ and Blanchot’s ‘Unrevealed Communities,’ mentioned in the second part, were created out of reflection on nationalism, fascism. On the other hand, since 1980, the concepts of ‘subject’ and
‘sovereignty’ shifted and wandered amidst global industrialisation and technological development. Moreover, recently, as historian Yuval Noah Harari (1976-) stated in Homo Deus -A Brief History of Tomorrow, ‘living organisms, including humans are nothing but algorithms [Harari 2018:106,107]’ and in the future, humans will be ‘worthless’ [Harari 2018: 182] and may not be viewed as entities possessing free/equal rights–a shocking prediction.
Italian philosopher, Giorgio Agamben, who proposed the concept of ‘bare life’, was one of the first to identify the problem of the ‘subject’. Agamben develops his theory based on the ‘biopolitics’ proposed by the French philosopher Michel Foucault (1926-1984). Bare Life refers to life as a creature on a mere biological level, rather than the life of an individual who bears a unique life and history. After the development of industrialisation from the 18th century onwards, when it became necessary for the state to maintain its national power through the involvement in industry, state power emerged as a power which managed the ‘lives’ of its citizens. In other words, there is a government that manages people’s births and health, and ultimately has power over the population. This means the power to both give and take life, as well as the power to dispose of some into death while keeping them alive. [Foucault 1986: 35]. Michel Foucault called this politics that treats human biological life as the object of governance ‘biopolitics’. The best example of this is the Nazi ‘extermination concentration camps’.
Some people are now not even ‘political subjects’, but have been reduced to ‘resources’ to be fed into the global market economy as another form of concentration camp. Agamben saw this political and ontological situation of human beings in globalization as the refugee situation of people [Kan 2017: 156]. In addition, German-Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) said that ‘all those who have been thrown out by various events from the old trinity of nation-territory-state, which formed the basis of the Nation, are left as stateless people without a country of origin [Arendt 2017: 236]’ and defined those who lost their rights as ‘subjects’ as ‘refugees.’ While the emergence of ‘refugees’ signifies the downfall of the nation-state, on the other hand, global industrial society complicates the issue by making refugees and stateless people abandoned from state protection an economic ‘resource’ and putting them into the market economy. In other words, ‘refugees’ can only have a transparent or semi-transparent phantom-like ‘subjectivity’.
(2) Other Life Illusion Drama/Symphony
Photo 1-1: ‘Theater of Life (2023)’.’Like water, the flowing, transforming ‘others’ overlap’, photo by Yuto Yabumoto
On the floor of Shifting Sovereignty, the ‘face’ of the people Agamben and Arendt describe as ‘refugees’ is exposed. Artist Meiro Koizumi (1976-) created Theatre of Life 2023, focusing on the past, present and future of the Goryeo Salam (Korean diaspora in Central Asia) community in Gwangju. The video footage was presented as a five-channel video installation, overlapping various veins of water. The silent video was designed to prevent the same overlap between the flow of time and colors, and there is no reproducibility in the video. It is exactly what Agamben refers to as ‘fantasmagorie.’ [Agamben 2000: 76]. In addition, I was able to grasp the image of a ‘symphony of otherness’ from this video work. The anthropologist Takashi Osugi states the following in his book Creoles of Inaction:
It is unlikely that we can see this convoluted eruption of ‘non-identity’ as being due to an emanation of the ‘subjectivity’ of the oppressed, as was implicitly assumed when the theory of hybridity was severed today from the theory of race. This is because, needless to say, ‘non-identity’, or ‘otherness’, no longer exists as ‘otherness’ because it is something that cannot be captured by the sight of the ‘subject’. The countless mutual encounters of ‘otherness’ brought about by colonialism have played a symphony of ‘otherness’ to such an excessive degree that it could not be captured by the Enlightenment that made colonialism possible [Osugi 1999:222,223].
These words seem to resonate with the very image that Koizumi creates.
In other words, in an age where nation-states are falling and global industrial society is swamped with ‘refugees’, everyone must always be someone’s non-identical ‘other = alien’. The situation is shifting in a myriad of complex ways.
According to Koizumi’s interviews, a two-day workshop was held on the stage of the theater, using photographic materials from the Goryeo Theatre as a starting point. There, he created a new play while working with 15 Goryeo Saram youths aged between 13 and 19 living in Gwangju. The Goryeo Saram are a Korean ethnic minority who migrated to the former Soviet Union and have been at the mercy of a complex history since 1863, including migration from Korea to Primorsky Krai, then forced migration to Central Asia and settlement there. After the death of Stalin, they finally obtained the liberalization of migration yet were influenced by displacement following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The people have been at the mercy of a complex history [Li 2022:73].
The Goryeo Theatre, established in Vladivostok in 1930, has played an important role in shaping the identity of the Goryeo Saram throughout the 20th century. In its early years, it staged plays on ethnic folklore, and the struggle against Japanese colonial rule. However, in 1937, under Stalinist policies, they were forcibly relocated to Central Asia, including Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, and it is said that many Goryeo Saram died in this process. Then, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, their lives once again became unstable due to racial discrimination and persecution due to rising nationalism in each country.
In recent years, the young Goryeo Saram people of today are basically Russian-speaking people who live and work in Gwangju as the second and third generation of stateless migrant workers, according to Koizumi. They are said to be struggling to find a place for themselves in Korean society while attempting to learn the Korean language. In this way, the Goryeo Saram live their lives while using multiple ‘faces’ depending on the occasion.
(*For the historical evolution of the Goryeo Saram, the definition of ‘diaspora’ and ‘Koryan diaspora’, etc., see Lee, Mae, ‘The Koryan Diaspora. Living Two Asias: Ethnic Problems in Contemporary Kazakhstan and the Cultural Transformation of the Goryeo Saram Diaspora. ).
Photo 1-2: ‘Akio Koizumi discusses the background of his work at the artist talk ‘Estuaries: Navigating Boundaries,’ photo Yuto Yabumoto. In the video, Goryeo Saram youths are shifting.
They change from traditional Korean costumes to costumes reminiscent of typical Japanese and German soldiers and certain dictators, transforming their ‘expressions’ and ‘attitudes’ as if ‘water’ were slowly flowing. They also lie down and sleep as if dead, pray, talk and dance. The silent images focus on their actions just as they are. As if they are questioning, do we sleep through the nightmares of the 20th century, or do we wake up from them and try to live? The film gives us the experience of dream walking in an ‘in-between’ space, where ‘life/death’ intermingle. The workshop ‘place’ was like a ‘place of origin’ where ‘life of the ancestors’ and ‘people living in the present’ are in chaos and the two extremes are blended, just like the ‘passages’ discussed by Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) [Karasawa. 2014: xvii].
(3) The theatrical impulse of ‘life’.
The book The Theatre of Life that inspired Koizumi was written by Nikolai Evreinov (1879-1953), an avant-garde playwright born of French and Russian descent. The book states that humans have a ‘theatrical impulse [Evreinov 1983:56]’. It is a ‘life’ impulse to transform one’s environment and identity through rituals and role-based performances in everyday life, a phenomenon found not only in humans but also in animals and plants. Examples that come to mind include rats pretending to be dead to escape cats and desert flowers mimicking stones. Thus, any being, through its theatrical instincts, is constantly exchanging ‘self’ for ‘other’, transforming into ‘other’, and even in the absence of ‘other’, continues to play multiple roles in order to ‘live’.
This transition between ‘self’ and ‘other’ means the opposite poles such as ‘self/other’ and ‘spirit/body’, ‘purpose/non-purpose’ and ‘production/non-production’ are never simply unified but co-exist in their unique ways. It shows us once again the importance of ‘intelligence (imagination)’ and ‘practice (living)’, which can allow us to move freely and lightly between the two poles. What is needed in today’s world is not only ‘reason’, which rationally removes unnecessary things, but also ‘intelligence’, which is in the form of instinctive/sensitive ‘imagination’.
Photo 1-3: ‘Young people playing various roles in ‘Theater of Life (2023),’ photo by Yuto Yabumoto.
(4) Breaking down ‘Life’ Water Power.
According to interviews with Koizumi, in the workshops, he found possibilities for communication through ‘gestures’, ‘hand gestures’ and ‘facial expressions’ outside of rational language, in a situation where English, Korean, Russian and Japanese were mixed up. This is why Agamben does not see the existence of ‘refugees’ in a completely negative light, but in a positive one.
In the second part, I examined Guy Debord’s (1931-1994) ‘spectacle’ (the appearance of images as an enormous accumulation [Agamben 2022: 160]) in a negative sense. However, in a commentary to the margin of Debord’s ‘Commentary on the Society of the Spectacle’, Agamben refers to the ‘spectacle’ as ‘linguistic activity, the possibility of interaction itself [Agamben 2000:85]’ and claims that it is ‘the true human linguistic nature [ibid: 88]’. Humans have ‘language’. This in itself indicates that we are supposed to communicate with others. In other words, human beings ourselves would not exist without ‘autonomous communication’, and without ‘autonomous communication’, human beings would return to ‘nothingness’. And since we will never be like that, we will always remain open to the ‘other’.
It seems that Koizumi is presenting the possibility of a community that transcends identity by revealing an image of non-identity in a phantasmagorical void and exposing this radical communicative nature. In other words, people who have no identity or affiliation have created a community that only possesses a separate dimension of ‘whatever-is-alone-ness’ from the existing framework [Suga 2017: 162].
The state in which beings such as the Goryeo Saram act ‘as they are’ indicates the ‘latent forces’ of that being. ‘Latent force’ means the power or energy hidden in the shadow of reality, as defined by Aristotle (Aristoteles, 384-322 BC) or as energy (reality, the state of working) or dinamis (latent force, the state of not working) that opposite it. [Kan 2017:166, 167] In this regard, Agamben states that ‘the greatness of the latent force is illustrated by the depth of its non-latent force [Agamben 2009: 344]’ and that ‘the meaning of existence lies in the possibility of what is not realized.’ Agamben then sees communality from the latent forces as follows.
Communality and latent forces will be integrated without leaving anything behind. This is because the principle of communality in each latent force is a function of the necessarily latent nature of all communality. There can be no community in a being that is always already a present force, a being that is always already this or that, a being that is always the identity of this or that, a being that has completely exhausted its potential [Suga 2017:168].
Simply put, only things that are in a state of latent force can have community. In other words, it is not a community that has already been concretely realized, such as the ethnic group ‘Japanese’, but a community of beings that are open to others ‘as they are’ in a state of latent force. Agamben called the state in which beings who have nothing to ‘share’ and nothing to ‘come’ are not ‘coming’, but are always latent as ‘coming’, the ‘coming community’.
Based on this, for me, the overlapping images of the Goryeo Saram youths in Theatre of Life seem to foretell that, like a dam accumulating vast amounts of ‘water power’, it will eventually be released as a torrent and ‘arrive’ before us.
Photos 1-5 (above) and 1-6 (below): ‘It looks like a dam on the verge of breaking’, photo by Yuto Yabumoto.
6 Where ‘Water’ Intersects
Finally, Encounter, also the entrance/exit to the main venue, was like a confluence of veins of water with ‘no beginning and no end’. There, Buhlebezwe Siwani (1987-) from South Africa presented a spectacular video installation titled The Spirits Descended (2022).
According to the caption, Siwani, influenced by African animistic ancestral rites and Christianity, acts as a ‘spiritual healer’ of ‘life/death’, de-territorialisation subject/object, spirit/body, nature/human, language and place, etc. As a black woman, she was described as questioning the history of African colonization and paternalistic society through her art.
The exhibition used the entire floor and was designed as a vast maze. The ‘path’ was just like the path to follow the ‘life memory’ as described by anatomist Shigeo Miki (1925-1987). The ‘life memory’ is a memory that traces the evolutionary process of life at ultra-high speed, accumulated and inherited from primordial life three billion years ago to the present day, during the period when the fertilized egg is in the womb after it begins to divide [Miki 1984:9].
In the center of the exhibition space, a water tank is set up, evoking the image of a ‘mother’s womb’ for me. Images are projected onto this ‘water’, which is like a ‘soup of life’, and the space is filled with an excessive erotic energy. I was so struck by the excessive ‘exaltation of life’ and became ecstatic, unable to move from the spot. I think what I experienced was exactly what Georges Bataille (1897-1962) was describing when he wrote: ‘Eroticism is the celebration of life until death [Bataille 2004: 16]’.
(1) Spiral of ‘life’.
A spiral rope, which seems to resemble vines, hangs from the ceiling.
This ‘spiral’ evokes images of the ‘Hybrid-Gatherings’ generation, as mentioned in the 2nd section. According to the caption, Siwani was inspired by the ropes worn by members of the Christian Churches during outdoor worship, which were created as a way of restoring a connection with their ancestors. The rope may function as a medium to connect different times/dimensions, like the Calel’s fruit artwork. The ‘spiral’ also gives the image of an ‘umbilical cord’ mediating between mother’s womb and fetus, together with images of typhoons, nebulae and the double helix of DNA. It is a formative beauty that updates the relationship between the world and life, as if to guide us into the world ‘between’ birth and death.
Furthermore, these ropes connecting heaven and earth create images of the ‘birth of the world’ and ‘order’. One such example I am reminded of is the creation of the myths of the Cherokee people in the US, where four ropes serve the function of connecting the heavenly spirit world with the earth. Other examples of connections between the heavenly world and our real world are also the images of the rainbow serpent of the Kalali people of Australia, and the ‘Naga’ and ‘dragon’ in many Indian, South-East Asian and Chinese mythologies. In addition to this, in Japan, the ‘spear’ in the Izanagi-Izanami mythology also plays an important function, while sometimes the ‘object’ itself has become an object of worship. Speaking of the case of Kinan/Kumano, for example, in the ‘The Idea of the Street: Cultural Creation and the Kumano Kodo,’ described in the section ‘The Kumano Kodo’ a long, narrow ancient ‘road’ which in itself was also an object of faith, connecting heaven and earth. In this way, the Siwani rope is a synecdochic medium that spins a spiral in which different myths and histories are intertwined.
Photo 2-1: Installation view of The Spirits Descended (Yehla Moya, 2022), Siwani. ‘Is the ‘spiral’ rope the umbilical cord that governs life/death? A medium of creation?’ Photo by Yuto Yabumoto.
Furthermore, from the perspective of ‘animism’, this space itself can also be seen as ‘life-existence’. Anthropologist Tim Ingold (1948-) re-presents the idea of ‘animism’ as not thinking of ‘life in things’, but of ‘things in life’, as in the following words.
We are not talking about objects owning life, life hiding within objects and being the secret ingredient that makes objects move on the world stage. Rather, we must think of life as the invisible force of the circulation of matter and the flow of energy that flows through the world to give rise to forms and makes them exist for a certain period of time. Therefore, it is not that life is in the stone. Rather, the stone is in the life. In anthropology, this understanding of the existence and generation of things – this ontology, if we can call it that – is known as animism [Ingold 2021: 191].
In other words, rather than forcibly finding individual souls and lives in lifeless objects, he posits life itself in the background of all objects. In traditional animist theory, life and soul were thought to dwell within all the objects that make up the world, but Ingold, on the other hand, argued that the world was constructed by life in the first place, prior to the ontological division into spirit and matter, and that this life was reduced to individual objects [Ingold 2021:84]. In other words, the place created by Siwani is a place where life-existence, which has ‘no beginning or end’, simply flows, regenerating and circulating again and again. This fundamental place may construct a ‘symbiosis sphere’ like the ‘mother womb’ of all inanimate objects and humans, including the Swani’s art viewer.
Photo 2-2: ‘The Spirits Descended (Yehla Moya, 2022)’ in Siwani. ‘The Soup of Life’ placed in the center of the exhibition hall at ?’ Photo by Yuto Yabumoto
(2) ‘Gift of Life’ and ‘Life of the Root’
In the video, several black female dancers begin to dance on the surface of the water (the boundary between water and ground). The women interact with the water, flow through it and stimulate each other. The collaboration between these apparently different things – ‘women’ and ‘water’ – evokes the image of the ‘gift of life’. However, although it is called the ‘gift of life’, the person who is born cannot choose or determine to whom that ‘life’ is given. In other words, although it is called a gift, the being that is born must always be passive. In other words, the ‘gift of life’ – which we might call the ‘primordial connection’ – always precedes the being that is born. This ‘fundamental connection’ remains an excess that cannot be pumped out by the consciousness of the individual.
Photo 2-3: ‘The Spirits Descended (Yehla Moya, 2022)’ in Siwani. Dancers dancing on the water’, photo by Yuto Yabumoto
As this image of Siwani indicates, the fundamental second person relationship of ‘I – you’, guided by ‘water’ and ‘woman (life)’, is what the Kinan/Kumano poet, Masaki Kurata, describes as the ‘root of life.’ From the perspective of this ‘root of life’, discussed in the first part, I would like to recapture the ‘communal illusion (third-person society)’ of Yoshimoto Takaaki (1924-2012), which appeared in Siwani’s experience of the exhibition, making a confrontation with Yoshimoto in my mind inevitable. This is because Yoshimoto presented the concepts of ‘African stages’ and ‘matriarchal theory’ in response to the sophistication of communal illusions such as the modern state and modern law, and attempted to explore the nature of fundamental community and the universal bedrock of the human spirit, from the mental formations of pre-ancient times.In Yoshimoto’s ‘On African Phases,’ he tried to rethink the world from the perspective of human spiritual history, rather than dividing the world into periods by ‘stages’ such as by tools and means of production [Yoshimoto 2016: 330, 331]. This thinking of pre-ancient spirituality has a strong connection with the subject of my doctorate’s research on ‘Zomia. ‘, and thought on ‘Kinan/Kumano’, my hometown’s practice.
Hegel’s own time was a rare period in which absolute modernism was established. The age regarded history as progressing through the stages of barbarism, savagery and primitiveness, a concept that was only possible because it was possible to isolate and pick up on an immanent spiritual history. Today, we can see the world that Hegel ignored as the Old World in terms of the history of civilisation as symbolising the traits that lead to the archetype of humanity in terms of the inner spiritual history. There, nature speaks through the sounds of native plants and animals, and plants and animals have their own language, which is echoed in human speech. Such cognition is not a superstition or an illusion, but a depth from which humans can descend to the true nature of nature. We are now able to understand it. This is a recognition of the background behind the African (pre-Asian) phase [Yoshimoto 1998: 28].
(3) Raw Noise
As mentioned, Siwani’s work manifests the spiraling beauty of life phenomena that transcend different times and values, such as the ‘collaboration between water and humans’, the ‘entanglement of multiple myths’ and the ‘creation of a symbiotic sphere with multiple living/inanimate objects’. Considering Ishikura’s criteria described in the second part, this can be said to be the expression of a hybrid-gathering image. The problem becomes the hybrid-gathering physicality, which was resolved by Siwani’s performance at the venue of Encounter on 7 April 2023.
In her performance, Siwani reflected on the sad history that black Africans have had in modern society, and the African people who have been abandoned by major history. In addition, with images of rivers being destroyed, nature such as the sea and plants, and movement being swayed by the waves as background images, the artist creates a mother tongue that is as fundamental as a child’s words, yet feels like the ocean, weaving. The reason for this is unknown even for myself, but the mother tongue resonates in my viscera. As anatomist Shigeo Miki states, ‘the waves of life are the rhythm of the universe’ and ‘the center of the visceral system endlessly moves back and forth between the organ system of food and the organ system of sex in the rhythm of the universe’[Miki 1984: 195, 196], it is just like a spiral ‘visceral wave motion’.
Siwani seems to be describing a sad story of Africa and at the same time singing, in dialogue with an invisible ‘something’. It feels very nostalgic. Then, to my surprise, Siwani’s baby who was present suddenly began to speak the fundamental words and respond to Siwani. According to Yoshimoto’s Theory of Maternal Forms, he states that, as follows, the fetus communicates internally in the mother’s womb, physically and psychologically united with the mother.
The image is that vowels expand like waves to create an ocean of speech sounds. (omitted) The wave-like expansion of vowels can be likened to the image of an oceanic wave, because it expands like a fabric, using as its warp the movement of the heart, from which the expression of the visceral tract jumps, and as its weft the sensory changes in the muscles of the body wall system, which change the shape of the larynx, mouth and nose. （Vowels are nothing more than the speech sounds of the language matrix, which are the result of the interplay between the commonality of the relationship between the mother and her infant, which transcends race and ethnicity, and the differences in customs [Yoshimoto 2014:44].
With childbirth, the relationship between mother and child shifts to external communication while leaving traces of internal communication. The infant’s pronunciation skill is defined solely by the human commonality of the organs from the throat upwards, constructing a world made up entirely of their mother tongue. The voice, which comes from the internal organs through the continuous vegetative tissue, creates the waves of the mother tongue with the interference of the organs of the motor system on the body surface [Yoshimoto 2004: 251].
This ‘undulating mother tongue’ is like a universal language, defined only by the structure of the body as a pre-ethnic human. As the historian Tatsushi Fujiwara (1976-) argues, ‘animals such as humans are ‘moving plants’ [Fujiwara 2022: 56] that grow ‘roots’ in the digestive system and absorb nutrients from the soil that passes through the digestive system from mouth to anus.’ Based on this, animals also have a plant nature within them and the range of communication includes animals and plants in its scope. In other words, it shows that we have the potential to communicate with other plants such as grapes and oranges through the universal language of a ‘mother tongue’.
Photo 2-6: Installation view of The Spirits Descended (Yehla Moya, 2022), Siwani.
You can hear the ‘rustle’ of the forest’, photo by Yuto Yabumoto
Presumably, many people considered the ‘mother tongue’ of the Siwani babies as ‘noise’. However, I was convinced that this was not just ‘noise’. In The Community of Those Who Share Nothing in Common, the American philosopher Alphonso Lingis (1933-) sees new possibilities for a ‘community of those who exist but are not exchangeable’, which is different from the modern rational community. In other words, he is oriented towards the ultimate inclusive community that shares nothing and is therefore able to include everything without excluding anything [Lingis 2006: 276].
Photo 2-7: ‘Scenes from Siwani’s performance ‘Raw noise’ resonates’, photo by Yuto Yabumoto
Listen to the ‘babble of voices’ of the world.One possibility that Lingis sees is the ‘disturbance’ of rational communication, which is not recovered in the agreement or consent that rational communication creates [Lingis 2006: 243]. In general, rational communication implies useful understanding and recognisable information exchange, but other meanings and backgrounds are excluded as ‘noise’.
For example, in our society, sounds that infants recognize such as an unspoken mother tongue, onomatopoeia and mimetic words and other speech sounds that are not self-recognizable, are recognized as noise. However, despite the fact that Shiwani and her baby have no recognizable language to share, their communicative nature may have been ‘raw noise’ [Lingis 2006: 274] that was only intended to ‘reach’ them at the expense of their own energy.
From these expressions of Siwani, we could see the possibility of a ‘primordial life’ of real space and the ‘primordial communality’ that this gives rise to. In this kind of spirituality, Yoshimoto may have found a way to resist the overly sophisticated ‘community illusions’ of the modern age, and a way of ‘life’ that is not too caught up in ‘communal illusion’.
Now, let’s go back to the first question. What kind of community should the ‘Orange Collective’ developing in Kinan/Kumano be oriented towards? Shinobu Origuchi (1987-1953), who advocated ‘Ancient Studies’, intuitively described the place ‘Kinan/Kumano’ as follows.
When I traveled to Kumano and stood at the end of the end ahead of the Great King, which juts out into the light-filled midday sea, I did not feel as if there was the home of my soul at the end of the far wave path [Origuchi 1974: 7].
I think that Kinan/Kumano may be a place that manifests the presence of the ‘mother-baby’, as in the image presented by Siwani.
Kumano Hongu Taisha (熊野本宮大社), a Shinto Shrine which is a part of UNESCO world heritage site in the Kinan region, enshrines the mother of all, and is a place where ‘water’ meets ‘water’ and Ketsumimiko-no-Okami (家津美御子), the Buddha Amida was enshrined as the main deity. It is said to be ‘Susanowo-no-Mikoto’, who was known as a wild impetuous god associated with the sea and storms, but is this really the case? From my personal experience walking along the gentle Kumano Kodo path, I have never felt a ‘Susanowo-esque’ paternal presence. Inevitably, I can’t help but think of the ‘Miko (御子)’ in ‘Ketsumimiko (家津美御子)’ conjuring up images of a ‘miko’ (巫女), shrine maiden, the ‘motherhood’ of ‘Ketsumimiko’. Also, I feel that the character ‘(家) house’ in ‘(家津美御子) Ketsumimiko’ is notable when you consider that Kinan/Kumano is also referred to as ‘ (牟婁) Muro’ is said to mean ‘room’. So, from my perspective, Kinan/Kumano can be said to be the place where the houses/rooms of the gods are assembled. In other word, Ketsumimiko may have been the entire existence of those ‘houses’ or ‘rooms’ for gods, like the ‘Khora’, which the ancient Greek philosopher Plato (427-347 BC) presented as ‘that which is the mother and recipient [Plato 1975: 81] of the product’.
In addition, in the 2nd part, I discussed Lévi-Strauss’s concept of ‘home’’, alongside Ishikura’s perspective of ‘home’’ as community. To summarize: a ‘community’, such as a village community or an ethnic community, is a ‘home’ as a ‘legal entity’ as described by Lévi-Strauss, meaning a model of vertical integration/horizontal relations based on blood-based relations that forms part of human society. Perhaps, this would encompass such things as ‘equality under the emperor’ and ‘equality under the law’. On the other hand, a ‘collective’ such as our ongoing ‘Orange Collective’ is a ‘home’ and a ‘place’ and can be understood as a model of discrete collective/collaborative relations based on temporal relations. Thus, this would include the ‘art collectives’ that are currently trending in the industry.
Lastly, Ishikura does not seek to eliminate heterogeneity. He describes a gathering of humans and non-humans as multispecies, multidimensional, multi location and as a model of transregional complex/mutual care relations described as Hybrid-gatherings [Ishikura Presentation 2020]. Based on these words, the ‘Orange Collective’ will need to go beyond the concept of an ‘art collective’ and become oriented towards a co-heterogeneous ‘art collective’ with the image of a spiral structure.
However, this does not seem to be something that can be achieved by advocating objectives or setting targets as a business. As Lingis states, this is because when it is a business, as long as it is based on sharing something, it will inevitably produce something that it excludes [Lingis 2006: 276]. In this sense, I think the ‘knowledge’ to be learnt could be Kumano Gongen, including the Kumano Hongu Taisha shrine. Kumano Gongen is indeed a ‘communal entity’ where the gods and Buddha are chaotic, enshrining not only ‘Buddha’ (buddha) but also the gods of the imperial lineage, while at the same time coexisting and co-existing with the gods of the Kinan/Kumano location.
In terms of our practice, one of the objectives for Kinan Art Week, as described in the past article in ‘Why Kinan Art Week?,’ is to not dare to be discarded or abandoned, but rather left as is, and the objectives and goals of the other members are accepted and taken in to create a new kind of ‘art collective.’ To achieve this end, it may be important to have an ‘intelligence (imagination)’ and actual ‘practice (living)’ that moves lightly and freely between multiple poles without integrating them, like the Goryeo Saram youth who appeared in Koizumi’s expression. This is where we can find the ‘resilience’ and ‘responsiveness’ mentioned by Kim Ji-ha at the beginning of this article.
And, according to Nancy, community is the sharing of ‘écriture’ through the written word and art [Nancy 2001:73]. In this sense, all we have to do is to continue ‘writing’ and ‘expressing’ without haste. In the process of doing so, surely the ‘hint of the Hybrid-Gatherings’ will appear.
- Alfonso Lingis, Keiji Notani (trans.), The Community of Those Who Share Nothing, Rakuhoku Publishing, 2006.
- Toshiaki Ishikura, ‘Recreating timeless memories and stories – ‘Mayoiga of the Cape’ as a conformist animation’(Japan Society for Animation Studies Online Symposium ‘Animation and the memory of the disaster area – Animation about the film ‘Mayoiga of the Cape’, Tourism, the Possibility of Folklore,’ 20 February 2022).
- Takashi Osugi, The Creole of Inaction, Iwanami Shoten, 1999.
- Shinobu Origuchi, Ancient Studies, Folklore Arc 1, Kadokawa Sophia Bunko, 1974.
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- ‘Gwangju Biennale Official Website’, viewed June 2023 (https://14gwangjubiennale.com/#aboutAnchor)