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Keynote Speakers

John Treat

Keynote: TBD

Bio:

John Treat is a Professor Emeritus of East Asian Languages & Literatures at Yale University. He has served as EALL Department chair and Director of Graduate Studies, is a member of the Executive Council of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and currently chairs Yale’s LGBT Studies Committee.  Treat has held elective office in the Association of Asian Studies and the Modern Language Association, and he edited the Journal of Japanese Studies for ten years. His essays have appeared in positions, PMLA, the Journal of Asian Studies, the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, boundary 2, and Gendai Shiso.  His two book projects now underway are a history of modern Japanese literature (The Rise and Fall of Modern Japanese Literature) and a study of pro-Japanese Korean intellectuals under Japanese occupation (Too Close to the Sun).  His graduate students have gone on to tenure-track positions at Princeton, Dartmouth, Minnesota, Kentucky, William and Mary, Utah, Grinnell, Wisconsin, Montana, Hamilton and Simon Fraser.

Ayelet Zohar

Re-enacting the Past, Performing Recollection:
Kamikaze images in Contemporary Japanese Cinema and Koizumi Meiro's video-art

The Kamikaze is arguably, the most important signifier of the Asia-Pacific War, and what has become the most identifiable images of wartime Japanese spirit, only second to the images of nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japanese war memory.

While Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the images most promoted and associated with Japan's surrender and passage into a new era of Peace and Democracy, the Kamikaze image stayed controversial over the past seven decades, with numerous attempts to reconciliate it into contemporary culture.

Since the 1950s, numerous films and narratives have tried to represent the image of the Kamikaze, attaching to it quite different possible narrative – a signifier of total madness that postwar Japan nees to distance itself from it; a signifiers of the absolute hero who would sacrifice his life for the sake of other; a signifier of the ultimate victim of a murderous regime and insane commanders who sent the best sons of Japan to die at war; and even a pacifist image of an aviator who refuses to go out on the mortal mission, but does so in the end, to save his friends from the deadly fate.

In my presentation I shall discuss Koizumi Meiro' s Kamikaze images in his different video art projects, and the way his work has critically engaged with this controversial narrative, foregrounding the problematic issues involved in the over-nostalgic over-romantic manner these images are projected though his re-enactments of scenes taken from movies, his performance of situations related to Kamikaze presence, and his intereference into documentary footage to create a series of moments that question the norms and images of the Kamikaze in contemporary Japanese culture. 

Works that will be discussed include: Melodrama for Men no. 1;  Voice of a Dead Hero; Portrait of a Young Samurai; Mum; Double Projection (Where Her Silence) fails), and more.

Bio:

Ayelet Zohar is a Lecturer at the Art History Department, Tel Aviv University. Her research focuses on theories of visual culture and contemporary art in Japan, with a focus on historical and contemporary photography in Japan. Zohar published extensively on photography and contemporary art, and her recent curatorial project Beyond Hiroshima: The Return of the Repressed    Wartime Memory, Performativity and the Documentary in Contemporary Japanese Photography and Video Art, was shown on the 70th anniversary to the Asia-Pacific War at the Tel Aviv University Art Gallery, in Summer 2015. Her new book project, entitled Performative Recollection: Renacting the War in Contemporary Japanese Photography and Video Art, analyses war memory in staged photography and performance art in Japan, in which, Zohar dedicated the first  chapter to discuss Koizumi Meiro's portrayal of Kamikaze pilots in his video art.