St Paul st Gallery AUT


Fiona Amundsen: A Body that Lives

Fiona Amundsen with Fuyuko Akiyoshi, Kayoko Ebina, Ben Kuroki, Nobuyoshi Maehira, Asumi Mizuo, Teruo Murakami, Michiko Uehara, and Mami Yamada

28 Sep 2018 - 26 Oct 2018

Fiona Amundsen

Fiona Amundsen, Small Tree growing near Shin-Ohasi-dori, Morishita, Koto Ward, Tokyo, 06/02/2017, 7.22 (for Ebina san and 100,000 kami), 2017. Inkjet Photograph, 1000 x 800mm. Image courtesy of the artist.

A Body that Lives brings together four narratives of personal experience linked to the Asia-Pacific War (WWII). These stories focus on the experiences of American war veteran Ben Kuroki’s struggle for recognition as an American of Japanese descent who participated in the aerial firebombing of his ancestral homeland; Japanese anti-war activist Kayoko Ebina’s description of the effects of these events, and the absence of governmental recognition; Okinawan anti-war activist and volunteer from Okinawa’s Peace Memorial Museum Michiko Uehara’s childhood memories of the 1945 Battle of Okinawa; and Japanese POW war veteran Teruo Murakami’s account of a mass prison-camp breakout in Australia, where just over 1,000 Japanese POWs attempted to escape, resulting in 235 deaths.

Through a series of photographs and videos, comprising present-day and archival imagery, this exhibition explores ways in which a camera can listento enable relationships with alternative acts of memorialising and remembering painful experiences associated with Asia-Pacific War histories. The works seek to disrupt the unity of collective narratives promoted by official memorialisation and other forms of government acknowledgement of this conflict,thereby creating space for counter-histories that critique both Japanese and American colonial imperial war acts. A Body that Lives resists providing concrete ethical assurance regarding subjectivity and the politics of representing this now seventy-three year history. These artworks ask viewers to confront their own expectations of images and testimony—looking does not necessarily lead to knowing. There is instead a focus on other forms of knowing that are premised in an ethics of visual listening, which is based in intersubjective relationships of care, trust and love.

* This idea of listening is based on indigenous filmmaker Barry Barclay’s proposition: “I believe we might do well to further explore how to make the camera a listener.  As a Māori, you are taught how to listen, you sit at the feet and open your ears…the knowledge is gifted to you at appropriate times and appropriate places” (Barclay 1990, 17).