|NIPAF 2010 Poster|
At last, we reached the Nippon International Performance Art Festival (NIPAF) House!
From the city of samurais that is Osaka, we went to the city of ninjas that is Nagano.
In fact, in the Togakushi area, you can still find the school for assassination, infiltration, espionage, sabotage, and survival skills like their medicine that is as black as their costumes, weapons, and intentions!
Our one last stop is world-renowned for being the Prefecture of Longevity.
And the nearly a hundred year-old NIPAF House can very well represent it.
Actually is the ancestral home of the Shimodas!
Every story told by Tupada Action and Media Arts (TAMA) artists about it was right.
After 18 years, all the NIPAF memories are concretized in its nook and cranny.
One good quality of art is that it can, like psychology, justify everything.
If some call it trash, others call it treasure!
Nothing like the Zenkoji.
In Motoyoshi, literally in the heart of Japan, we found the 1,400-year old Buddhist temples regarded as true National Treasures.
With main deities, considered the first and the oldest images brought to Japan from other parts of Asia, this serene sanctuary is for the salvation of all people. Of atheists too.
As the NIPAF team entered “The Hidden Key to Paradise,” we were transported.
Back to our Day 1 when we visited the Open Space 2010 exhibit at the NTT Inter Communication Center (ICC) within theTokyo Opera City Tower in Shinjuku-ku.
The same old fear, mostly of the unknown, was still there inside us, especially when we stayed for 15 minutes or so inside the Anechoic Room -- comparable to that extremely dark tunnel underneath the Zenkoji Temple -- which is covered with special materials to absorb all reverberations. As we experienced it all, we instantaneously remembered bits and pieces of Francis Fukuyama's The End of History and the Last Man as we exited with a brochure: “An American composer John Cage (1912-92) once tried to experience complete silence in an anechoic room. Although he was supposed to be blocked from any sound, he heard two kinds of noises in his body, "the sound of his blood pulsing" and "the sound of his nerves." Through this experience, Cage recognized that there is no such thing as silence, which led to the creation of his silent piece titled 4'33" (1952).”
Our Zenkoji state of heart was more inexplicable than that of Shibuya Keiichiro + evala's "for maria anechoic room version."
We were able to explain everything when we heard the bad news after three days.
That our literary mother – Dr. Ophelia Alcantara Dimalanta – passed away that day! Well, the Lady Polyester herself -- described by Isagani Cruz as "the archetypal poet's poet, carefully harnessing the resources of spontaneous youth while carefreely indulging the discipline of contemplative maturity" – succumbed to the attack on her heart.
Immortal, she just rested her physical body after 76 poetic, thus fragile, years.
Yet her works in English (translated into Russian, Italian, and Japanese) shall keep her alive as one of the most influential figures in Philippine literature whose lifetime achievement was honored through Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas and the South East Asia Write (SEAWRITE) Award from the Kingdom of Thailand!
That very day, too, we were supposed to perform at Neon Hall in Nagano Gondo.
But, we could not decide what piece should we do -- as if we were neophytes getting baptism of fire in the city that hosted the Winter Olympics in 1998!
It was as if we were back to that historic year when NIPAF gave birth to PIPAF, or Philippine International Performance Art Festival, organized by its first Filipino alumnus, Yuan Mor'o, who also asked us to participate in 1999.
It was a year after we celebrated the 100th anniversary of Philippine Independence.
On 12 June 1998, through the partnership of the National Centennial Commission and Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas, we directed and produced the literary gathering entitled (KA)LAKARAN: Sentenaryo ng mga Makata ng Bayan -- wherein the performance artists played the role of their favorite Filipino heroes -- from Lapu-lapu to Lean Alejandro -- introducing themselves and their heroism, to the captive Glorietta Ayala Mall audience for a day capped by a poetry reading at the center of that shopping center.
Most of the main men and women there were our students in Performance Poetry (Performance Art + Poetry) class offered by the University of the Philippines' Department of English and Comparative Literature that experimented on Special Projects in creative writing in 1995. Ever since, we were able to form such performance poetry groups as Gatula (1996), Oratura (1997), Toki (1997), Cofradia (1998), L (1998), amorphous mass (1999), among others, including FPJ (2006) that led to The Batutes, the Balagtasan brats!
However, that eerie evening of November 4, when dear Dean Dimalanta died, we simply had what we might label in the meantire -- as a performance artist's block.
Thanks to our big bag.
We were able to mix and match--after our first as a collaborator in Tokyo last October 27 and our second as a comfort woman in Osaka last October 31 (and our third as ourselves at Daiza Hoshi Ike lakeside park last November 3)--only to stick to our plan.
The original, being the final, was to play the cosplayer's part to heal our sick world.
Last November 6, upon our arrival at the Japan-funded Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2, we were hounded not by the Nuestra Seňora de la JAL, or Japan Air Lines, who issued us with a receipt of $168 for ourexcess baggage but by the nagging questions as to whether our audience members got what we gave them or not.
Or did we hurt them with such non-zen or nonsense or insensitive issues for them as Japanese collaborators, comfort women, and, of course, cosplayers? Or should we instead go conceptual by giving objects away or by taking our clothes off then quietly call it art?
Good Lord prevented us by lowering the temperature for such temptation to strip.
Kashiyo Sansou coldness atop the snowy Iizuna Kougen jolted us, a la Montage.
As unapologetic as any Dimalanta-esque erotic poetry, we did what we had to do.
That is, to entertain as well as to educate. Or was it to enlighten?
At home we, while playing with our kids wearing the masks we made out of a white Super Neon Hall '07 Summer fan, could hear Seiji Shimoda,telling his tale:“So, I decided to start NIPAF in February 1993 because the festival in Poland had been such a good experience. Some days we really had a good time, producing good art work, having great conversations, and consuming lots of beer!I knew it would be hard work but I also knew I was the only person who could organise this kind of international performance art festival in Japan.In the first NIPAF in ‘93, there were only two Japanese and three Korean artists, while the remaining ten came from Europe and Canada. Anyway, it was a big success. Not only in Nagano. Art Magazine in Tokyo expressed a keen interest because it was the first real international performance art festival in Japan.”
Two years from now, according to Mr. Shimoda, the city government of Nagano, or the Rooftop of Japan, in the name of urban zoning, might demolish NIPAF House!
Till today, we bear this certain sadness so similar to this Passional sufferance as we kissed our prodigal mom's coffin in her Alma Mater whose 400thbirthday she can still hail in heaven:“Wakes conjure in an uncanny pall, / A kind of sepulchral air evoking / Tombstones turned trysting chambers / For romancing late lovers freed / From life's containing vaults.”
The San Francisco Cable cars are the only mobile National Monuments in the world.
Time heals all wounds.