Playing Japanese

Film Installation

The Fifth National Industrial Exhibition was held in Osaka in 1903. In addition to buildings for Agricultural Production, Forestry Production, Marine Production, Industrial, Machinery, Educational, Fine Art, Transportation and Animals at the main venue of Tennoji Imamiya, the “Pavilion of the Human Races” was also established. This featured “human exhibits,” as were popular at expositions in Europe at the time, “exhibiting” 32 ethnic Ryukyu (Okinawan) and Ainu people in traditional-style spaces. However, protests by those being exhibited forced a review of the exhibition. Inspired by this incident, this installation is a record of a workshop in which the gaze of the “Japanese people” of the time is reenacted through readings of newspaper editorials. In keeping with the discourse of the time, the work reveals through participants who have been given roles within the framework established by the artist the existence of an internalized gaze toward the other, as well as the structure and multiple layers which reproduce discrimination.