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DIRECTOR’S NOTE for ASIA/N/ESS/ES
Published December 6, 2020

by Issa Manalo Lopez

Originally published for APAF Exhibition 2019

ASIA/N/ESS/ES

The work captures the journey of Asian individuals investigating their own personal narratives, the socio-political conditions of their own countries and the unfamiliar narratives of people and spaces that they encounter in Japan. It is a performative documentation of our re-imagining of the Asian cultural identity through this discovery of our own varying Asian-ness. Together we are ruminating through the lenses of our diverse perspectives what it means to live at this moment in the spaces we inhabit. How does “asia” view Asia? An amount of self-reflexivity, looking at ourselves, while embodying someone else’s experience and inhabiting someone else’s body makes us question if we can “see the me in you”.  I’ve discovered that no matter how we try to occupy the Other’s memories and embody the Other’s physicality we still bring with us our own definitions, our own experiences, our cultural identities and biases that we cannot disengage from. There is a sameness in the definitions of our words but it is in a different shape of language- sound , utterance. We seem to be looking into a distorted mirror – a temporal displacement.

Can this distortion of time be performative?  We seek to understand what it means to remember and forget.  As we perform the act of remembering and forgetting we bring the audience into this liminal space, this in-between of remembering and forgetting that seems to evade us in our everyday – those that we lose in translation and those that we leave behind in the rashness of our moving forward. What have we lost?  How does the remnants of our forgotten history manifest in our bodies, in the spaces that we move in, in the words that we speak and our psyche. How do these deeply embedded roots shift the decisions that we make? If a foreigner speaks to me do I turn my back and refuse? Do I preserve this purity of national identity? When we draw the line, who are those that fall between the cracks of the included and excluded? 

In the midst of specific realities of earning wages, sons being killed in protests, walking 100 steps to wash our laundry, drinking Japanese whisky in Golden Gai with tourists, making coffee, riding a bike to to Suitengu, eating lunch alone at the park , how do we make manifest  this in-between hidden in our transactions and negotiations?