Essay Series 2018 #00
Kyoto Experiment 2018 focuses on female artists or artists and companies that identify as female.
Bringing the words “woman” or “female” to the fore in this way encourages us to realize a wide variety of perspectives that offer a cross section of contemporary society, from the unease we feel from everyday conversations and customs to broader issues of gender seen in social and historical contexts.
This relay-style series of essays presents texts by specialists from different fields that problematize feminism not as an issue only for women but for society as a whole. We hope that they will provide opportunities for audiences to gain deeper insights into the festival programs.
The first article is by Yusuke Hashimoto, the current program director of the festival.
The articles will be published approximately once every two weeks.
Not Turning a Blind Eye: Memorandum for Writing a Director’s Statement
Our world today overflows with sentiments of anger, disdain, suspicion, indignity, and bitterness. Just a glance at Twitter or Facebook is enough to confirm this. People sling insults at one another, vindicate themselves, and look down on others. And that’s not all. Walking around the city, we catch sight of insensitive and inflammatory posters, hear clamorous announcements on trains or in stores, and spot advertising for magazines with vulgar headlines. Lacking the ability to imagine others, throwing your complaints and desires around, and then hoarding up the stress when this likewise comes back at you like a boomerang—this is what fills our world today. Why did it become like this?
One striking thing my Kyoto Experiment peers recently told me was that my programming for the festival often has a sexual nuance. While I wasn’t really aware of this, there does seem some truth in it. I think the reason—and I am putting this into words for the very first time—lies in the little doubts I have always had about my own sexual identity. More so than through study or work, I feel like I have thought more about my identity through awareness of my gender and sexuality. This awareness gave birth to something that I could simplify neither in my distance from others nor in the way I was involved with others. Presuming this problem of identity around sex and gender is also a problem of relationships, it is surely tied up not only with aesthetic consciousness in the arts, but many other things, including politics, economics, the nation-state, and ethnic groups. Thinking about this year’s programming is not a bad starting point for us.
As is frequently remarked upon, it is problematic to treat humanity in general as male, as we do when we use the words “mankind” or “Man.” Our society today is controlled by people, male and female alike, whose perspectives have internalized patriarchy. Those who cannot internalize this—not only women, but also sexual minorities and various others—maintain both objective perspectives centering on patriarchy as well as their own personal perspectives that diverge from this, and live their lives while conjecturing the distance between the two. This act is what we might call the ability to imagine the positions of others. Incidentally, the main program for Kyoto Experiment 2018 has been taken over primarily by artists who identify as female. Will this be able to dislocate the patriarchal perspective?
In the performing arts world, overwhelmingly dominated as it is by men in terms of both creativity and distribution, we must doubt this industry in which we work if we are to produce new artistic expression. Perhaps it’s a bit cheap just to say the program has been “taken over” by artists who identify as female. This, though, is not merely an inversion of male-female disparity, but is conceived as an attempt to agitate that dichotomy. Our task is to ask how we can break free from the way we prop up the paternalism of late capitalism; from the way we carelessly privilege women and sexual minorities as social outsiders. There is much to consider here, but what is important is sticking to one’s own perspective and fortifying it.
While referring to the issues that develop across these articles on the Kyoto Experiment website written by people from various different fields, I hope to elucidate further the themes I want to share with audiences and artists in the festival this year.
Program Director, Kyoto Experiment
April 24th, 2018