Monday, December 17, 2012

SEIJI SHIMODA’S SECOND COMING (First of three parts) (December 17, 2012)


Today, our students from the University of the Philippines troop again to120-A Narra Street, Barangay Amihan, Project 3, Quezon City. But this time, our visit to Lila Pilipina called Maligayang Pasko Po, Lola is more meaningful, if not the most meaningful, than our previous semestral sojourns for more than 15 years.

This year marks their 20th anniversary and last 1 October, as our way of celebrating the International Day of Older Persons, our students last semester organized Mano Po, Lola, a forum at the U.P. Faculty Center’s Pulungang Recto with the College of Arts and Letters’ dean Elena Mirano and College of Social Science and Philosophy’s history professor Ricardo Jose as special guests. After 10 days, it had a repeat when the Philippine High School for the Arts, through its Creative Writing teacher, Rae Rival, agreed to bring Lila Pilipina to the National Arts Center, the queendom of Mariang Makiling, highlighted by the kissing of lolas’ hand, after young art scholars entertained them through dance, music, and visual arts, among others.

Two years ago, we had the chance to help Lila Pilipina in their struggle to pressure the Japanese government: (1) to present a public apology regarding the crimes inflicted to the women; (2) to revise text books and other materials where these crimes were ommitted; and (3) to seek compensation for the victims.

Yes, it was during the Nippon International Performance Art Festival.

With war crime as our theme, we performed in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagano from 24 October to 5 November in 2010.

Seiji Shimoda, who founded the said oldest performance art festival in Asia in 1993, expressed his “disappointment” with us.

Did he forgive us for what we did on behalf of Lila Pilipina?

We never had the chance to talk earlier this year during his sidetrip to Manila when we welcomed him via Tupada Tuesdays at the Conspiracy Garden Café where we jammed with him last 25 August.

The other opportunity knocked once more during his second coming.

He came back to perform -- with Poland’s Peter Grzybowski, Singapore’s Jason Lee, South Korea’s Kim Kang, Israel’s Beni Kori, United States’ Eric Scott Nelson, India’s Dimple Sha, Switzerland’s Gilles Furtwängler and Anne Rochat, Myanmar’s Yadanar Win, and Philippines’ Luizi Alfonso, Rogger Basco, Roen Capule, Buddy Ching, Thom Daquiaog, Gilbey de Castro, Mael de Guzman, Boyet de Mesa, Martin de Mesa, Arvin Javier, Ian Lomongo, Noel Pama, Sam Penaso, Kaye O’Yek, Crecee Roldan, Joash Roxas, Jo-an Sarmogenes, Mannet Villariba, and Ugatlahi, to name a few.

It was for TAMA X, the 10th anniversary celebration of the Tupada Action and Media Art last 11 to 17 November.

Sadly, we were in Thailand for Asiatopia from 4 to 27 November.

But, with Mannet who videotaped our interview when we went to Thom’s cabin in Makati, we were able to speak with Seiji on cam.

Vim Nadera: Since you began it in 1993, how many artists have performed for the Nippon International Performance Art Festival (NIPAF)?
Seiji Shimoda: More than 300 international artists from 45 countries around the world.

VN: You were born in 1953 in Nagano, Japan where NIPAF usually ends. How would describe your early years?
SS: In 1970, I was a poet. I joined high school student movement. When I dropped out of high school, I traveled in Japan by hitchhike. After five years, I started to focus on art, experimental theater, and performance art in Osaka City University.

VN: What was your exposure then?
SS: I was able to perform in Paris during my three-month stay in 1982. In 1987 I started my Western Europe tour. Then I was invited to more than 150 international art festivals in 37 countries like Western, Central Europe, Asia, North and Central America. I succeeded in promoting art exchanges and dialogues about performance art to the Americas, Europe, and Asia through NIPAF. I also began performance tours, workshops, and lectures at Musashino Art University in Tokyo.

VN: Do you have a particular style in performing?
SS: I should say that my distinct performance work always has action poetry, movement. I usually use my body. I love to utilize objects like table, chair, tape, chopstick or paper.

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