event name and location
project description
call for participation
organizers, institutional affiliation and sponsors


Beyond Contamination: Corporeality, Spirituality and Pilgrimage in Northern Japan
Aomori, Tohoku, Japan

28 August (Pre-event), 29 August -1 September, 2015


Performance beyond / and: Contamination, Corporeality, Spirituality, Pilgrimage, and Locality
Aomori city is in Tohoku 東北, the northern region of the main island of Japan, roughly located at the same latitude as New York, Beijing and Rome. The venue of the conference is The Aomori Museum of Art, which was established adjacent to the Jomon period (BC 10,000) historical site, Sannai Maruyama, in order to propagate the culture of the arts of the Northern Tohoku region.


Tohoku holds a special place in Japanese history, imagination, and ecology. Japanese have long believed that Tohoku is the outskirts of civilization, lagging far behind the capital, and that it is a place of the uncanny, as Yanagita Kunio’s Tohoku folktales illustrate: “…a vision of a typical village growing up in a world full of dangers from invisible forces and from malevolent creatures shuttling between the human and the animal kingdom.” And adding to this mythic and discriminatory imaginary, critical contemporary performance makers, like Terayama Shuji and Hijikata Tatsumi, come from this region.
The 2011 devastating earthquake and tsunami, and the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster seem to reinforce these images of horror and the uncanny. Conscious, deliberate and unspoken discrimination against Tohoku has served to encourage a sense of superiority among Japanese living in central Japan, especially in Tokyo. A discriminatory line could thus be drawn between “normal Japanese” living in and around the capital and “the uncivilized others.” And yet this very fictive/real image of a disaster-stricken place should be a clue for reconsidering our “normal” and “domesticated” ordinary life and re-examining the power of performance in an age of crisis that is spiritual, physical, and political.  Although Aomori’s damages from the earthquake were comparatively small, the controversial Rokkasho nuclear reprocessing plant is located in this prefecture.
The concept “Beyond Contamination” in our title is pivotal to many aspects of our gathering at this Tohoku site. Our themes of corporeality, spirituality, and pilgrimage interact in many ways with traditional and contemporary ideas of contamination, which are particular to this region. For example, Aomori's Mount Osore (or in Japanese Osorezan 恐山 literally “Mount Fear”), which is one of Japan's most famous pilgrimage sites and according to popular mythology, marks the entrance to the Buddhist Hell. It is a "fluid" site because it lies in the middle of a small northern peninsula jutting out between the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean and because of its role as a place of passage between life and death. Osorezan has a small river running down its slopes to the neighboring Lake Usori. This small river represents the sacred Buddhist Sanzu River, a river that deceased souls need to cross on their way to the afterlife. The Sanzu River, or “River of Three Crossings,” is believed to be the boundary between the realms of the living and the dead. Many people make the pilgrimage to Osorezan to communicate with the souls of their dead loved ones. A tour to the mountain is planned as part of the introduction to this region's cultural geography and to our conference themes.

Call for Participation now available here.

Call for Local and Visiting Correspondents available here.

Invited Presenters: 3
Invited Performers: 3~5
Paper Presenters on the panels (CFP): 16
Members on Working Groups (CFP): 15 for each (15 x 4 Working Groups = 60).
All total participants including visitors are about 100+.
Our cluster will use a “working group seminar" model in addition to the key notes speeches and paper presentations.  We will have four WGs, each of which has special topic based on our themes of corporeality, spirituality, pilgrimage, and locality/ecology. All these themes will relate to the larger frame of "Beyond Contamination" and other sub-themes developed by the WGs participants and curators. In the CFP anyone can submit their paper or performative event to the WGs of their choice. Once the participants are chosen, the curator sets the dates for short papers (only 5-8 pages allowed) to be submitted to the entire group.   Everyone in the WGs reads the papers before the conference. The curator of each WGs facilitates the pre-conference exchange by dividing papers into partners or smaller clusters. The curator provides an outline of working group structure and sequence of discussions and topics before the conference. At the conference, every presenter gives a short (2-5 min) introduction to their paper/topic. An outside audience is always welcome. Depending on the curator, the order may be that small clusters/partners first offer their insights, then the larger group explores, in discussion, the topics that arose among the papers OR the curator may have several questions for everyone to explore together, and then the general public can join and ask questions. These working groups are more like seminars. The WGs may need two sessions, but the second session could be shorter and followed by a general conference meeting in which they reflect back on the most important or new concepts that arose during the WGs meeting/discussions. Curators and participants may contribute to this reflection to the general conference.
These WGs are different from the IFTR model of just going through one paper at a time. It is based on the ASTR (American Society for Theatre Research) WG model. The major point is to generate discussion beyond the individual papers and generate new knowledges that arise at the moment and between the different contributions. Some contributions may be performances that could be presented on video or in a power pt. with text.
Host organizations:
Keio University Art Centre
Aomori Museum of Art
(Director) Hayato Kosuge
Takashi Morishita
Yu Homma
Katherine Mezur
Peter Eckersall
Rina Otani (Keio University)
Takeshi Kudo (Aomori Museum of Art)
Hayato Kosuge [director]: hayatok@kvj.biglobe.ne.jp, hamlet@a3.keio.jp
Takashi Morishita: moris@art-c.keio.ac.jp
Yu Homma: homma@art-c.keio.ac.jp
Katherine Mezur: kmezur@sbcglobal.net
Peter Eckersall: peckersal@gc.cuny.edu



Tags: Disaster Recovery Resilience and Performance  Environment Ecology and Performance  Identities Bodies Corporealities in Performance   Performance Studies in Asia  Religion Spirituality and Performance  

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter