|Satsuki Odamura, Wakako Asano, Mayu Kanamori, Vic McEwan, In Repose|
photo Jenny Evans
The In Repose project has been under way since 2007, with a range of performances, exhibitions and community workshops in Townsville, Broome, Thursday Island, Port Hedland, Roebourne and Cossack. In each the group performed a version of ‘kuyo,' a ceremonial offering to honour the spirits of the dead. This involved lighting incense and pouring water on the graves to slake the thirst of the spirits, and in their contemporary adaptation also incorporated music and dance. In many places this ceremony was opened up to involve the local community while in other smaller locations the acts were more private.
The performance lecture, presented in 2010 amidst the photographic installation at the Japan Foundation, brings these outcomes together. Like Kanamori’s photographs—close-ups of the weathered texture of inscribed rocks, native grasses entangled with headstones—the performance, with the addition of music and dance, offers a more impressionistic retelling of events. It is not overladen with information, but rather offers fragments, anecdotes and space for reflection on the project.
|Japanese Cemetery, Broome, In Repose|
photo Mayu Kanamori
On Thursday Island one of the workshop participants makes a short video discussing the local beliefs surrounding death and the passage of the spirit, which Kanamori tells us is particularly resonant with Japanese culture. In Port Hedland, visiting Japanese video artist Shigeaki Iwai wanders over the hill from the graveyard to discover the local Indigenous people. Initially they mistake his tripod for a gun, but then they get to talking and he asks if their ‘mob,’ can look after ‘our mob.' In the small town of Roebourne, the team discover that the graves they'd been told about have been cleared to make way for housing for the local Indigenous residents. In an impromptu ritual, the team honours the dead, but also passes on the story to the local kids, so that this ‘new’ history may be added to the old history of the land.
|Wakako Asano, In Repose |
photo Jenny Evans
In Repose represents a very personal journey for the all the artists involved. It treads softly around the more contentious issues of colonisation, racial conflict and the White Australia Policy, instead highlighting the power of personal connection through the significant cultural and generational exchanges that took place within a range of communities. Through the retelling of these events it also opens up a space for the audience, rare in contemporary western culture, for our own reflection on death, spirituality, ancestry and a sense of homeland.
In Repose, photographer, storyteller Mayu Kanamori, koto player, sound Satsuki Odamura, dancer, choreographer Wakako Asano, sound design, storyteller Vic McEwan, lighting design Amber Silk, video Shigeaki Iwai, compositions Satsuki Odamura, Mark Isaacs, Rosalind Page, Michael Whiticker; Japan Foundation, Sydney, exhibition April 1-May14, performance April 10, May 1, May 13; http://www.mayu.com.au/folio/inrepose/; www.jpf.org.au
RealTime issue #96 April-May 2010 pg. web
© Gail Priest; for permission to reproduce apply to firstname.lastname@example.org