AIR 475 2014 Residency
This project first began as an invited residency to AIR 475 in Yonago, Tottori-ken, Japan curated by Makiko Hara. Hara was intrigued by the similarities to Yonago and B.C. both geographically and psychically in terms of a connection that she first found through the site-visits to various location spots. She invited me as one of the artists along with Khan Lee to create new work for this site.
On our site visit we experienced a boat tour led by a tour guide who would speak of the changing landscape, geography and sites due to gentrification and he often expressed his concern for the waters around Yonago and the lagoon disappearing or going to waste. On this tour, he pointed to an island and mentioned that his grandfather often talked about a restaurant there where a beautiful woman made the best noodles. This story was the seed that was the inspiration for the story Paper which began as a fiction; but soon became something that was ‘true’.
Thinking this was a fiction; hearsay, town gossip – I went back to Vancouver to write Paper imagining that the restaurant was a 1960’s café diner. I worked with sound designer Antoine Bedard who used music from the 1960’s including the Candy’s, Sakamoto Q to create the feeling of a nostalgic restaurant but that this space could be a conduit to move back into time to Port Alice in the 1900’s where a man by the name of Isojima migrated from Yonago to start the paper/pulp industry buy buying a forest on the B.C. Gulf Islands. This information I found as I was digging through the archives at the Nikkei Museum and came across a book called “Tracing Our Heritage to Tottori Ken Japan” and found a yobiyose letter (calling letter) within it that essentially attempted to woo families from Japan over to Canada. I was immediately struck by how the landscape of Canada was used to draw families over – by way of beauty. But as we know, their fate/history after the years of labor would be one of discrimination and racism as they would be interned and would lose their homes, properties and lives during WWII.
I returned back to Yonago to open the exhibition with Khan Lee and Makiko Hara. The audio work was experienced on headsets on the boat tour and to our surprise on the day of the opening, a woman called to let us know she was the granddaughter of the woman who once owned the island of Kayashima or Kamaboko jima and could vouch that the restaurant was real. AIR 475 members were able to also find some graphic design of the restaurant which was a traditional ryotei.