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Memory of Nanjing: Kamome Machine’s Experiments in Sharing Thoughts

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>26/12/2023
Issue number1
Number of pages26
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The controversial topic of the ‘Nanjing Incident’ (1937) and its memorialization is very rarely depicted in theatre. Equally important, the memory of the Second World War in Asia-Pacific has been heavily politicized both in Japan, China and other Asian countries. In summer 2022, the Japanese performance company Kamome Machine embarked on research for their new project re-addressing the Nanjing Incident. In general, Kamome Machine’s works explore public and private space that centre on the human body. They are known for their site-specific performances such as Waiting for Godot in Fukushima (2011), performed just outside Fukushima's exclusion zone or more recently the telephone theatre series Moshi Moshi (2020-2023). For the initial research phase on the Nanjing project, Kamome Machine interviewed Chinese students, invited a historian to provide material and insight and a Chinese dancer/choreographer in a process they termed ‘experiments in sharing thoughts through body’. Since this early phase, I became involved in the process on several occasions as embedded researcher. (Haydon, 2012) (McGinty and Salokangas, 2014). We actively exchanged ideas and shared thoughts both physically and via email, video calls and messages. This paper not only traces their work-in-progress, but also how my theorising of their work has shifted, based on the experience as a witness and participant in process. I explore the notions of aporia (Barthes), tourist as the Other (Azuma, 2017) and liberation from myths about Japanese identity (Oguma, 1995) to show how creative process is an important tool for repositioning the memorialisation away from political controversies.