The Cocktail Party


(at Daniel Reich Gallery, April 10th – June 16th, 2009)

[lang_en]
You don’t see that many Americans on Heiwa Street.

The street, to be there, was quite exhilarating for me as a child. The street was full of stores selling American candies and Japanese robot toys. All else, Okinawan traditional food, musical instruments, etc., seemed dated and smelled of history.

But now, what catch my eye there are the remnants of dusty history; Bingata, Okinawan traditional fabric, or Sanshin, guitar-like Okinawan musical instrument. The street had the significant historical and cultural traces of the past. It was formed after the war, and thrived during the dark era after the war, experienced miraculous growth during the economical upheaval, and kept its existence through the dismissive postmodern days. Underneath the things American and Japanese, new and newer, there is a rich, although diminishing, Okinawan culture.

As I read several books on postwar Okinawan history, I came to see the fact that in order to effectively occupy the islands, the American military tried to eulogize the culture and things that were in the prewar Okinawa, which were destroyed completely during the war, so that the people can get motivated and have something they can cling onto. And it succeeded. It was the Americans who revived in postwar Okinawan people their traditions. Do the Okinwans believe what the Americans believed very Okinawan as quintessentially Okinawan?

But now even the sad fact itself is a history. Many of the stores are gone out of business and the street seem desolated. I see Bingata swaying in the wind.

Many of those fabrics seem to be mass-produced, made of polyester. Yet, to me they seemed beautiful.
[/lang_en][lang_jp]
平和通りでアメリカ人を見かける事はまれでした。

子供の頃は、アメリカのお菓子や、日本のおもちゃが売られていたこのアーケード通りが大好きでした。もちろん沖縄的なものもたくさんありましたが、それらは老婆の営む色味のない下着屋や、カビ臭い餅屋と同じように、ただ古くさく、安っぽいものにしか見えませんでした。紅型や三線であったり、飛び交う耳に馴染まない方言であったり。

通りは、そうやってひっそりと時代に飲まれたり取り残されたりしながら、歴史の足跡を細々と残していました。

沖縄戦後史についていろいろと読んでいた時、戦争で破壊された沖縄の伝統工芸の復興にアメリカ占領政府が大きく関与していたという事実を知りました。沖縄の人々が、アイデンティティと文化的生産性、ひいては労働的生産性を取り戻すために、彼らの心の拠り所である伝統文化の復元に、占領政府は労力を注いだのだそうです。

今は、通りにあったいくつもの店が閉店してしまいました。閑散としていて、ところどころ紅型が風に揺れるのが見えたりします。多くは観光客向けの、安いポリエステル製のもの。ときたま、それらが美しく見えます。
[/lang_jp]

Installation Views:
__________________________________