Saturday, August 12, 2017

August 14 DIY Art in 1950s Japan

Neglecting the American-Native American war of expansion between 1690 and 1924, the last war on US soil was the civil war. It was 4 years, 150 years ago. They did not have modern weapons. But we are still fighting that war today.

Japan engaged wars of expansion too. The United States entered one of those wars in late 1941, transforming the conflict into total war with modern weapons. The definition of total war and absolute war vary. When it was formulated in the 1800s, modern weapons did not exist. I use it to mean war on civilians with modern weapons. By the time of the atomic bombings, which are the ultimate expression of total war, several Japanese cities had been already been leveled.

Tonight's talk is about individual artists and community groups of artists that flourished in the Japan of the 1950s. Protests in 1959 and 1960 against the US-Japan Defense Treaty also included street theater and experimental performance, leading to enduring artistic movements.

Americans have a limited understanding of the cultural impact of war on their home soil, and no understanding of total war. So the impact of those on artistic creativity is foreign. We make those war decisions today in the abstract, but the impact is not abstract for the individuals involved. We are sowing generations of unhappiness and, for some, the desire for revenge.

The Creativity of Uncertainty: Amateur Woodcut in 1950s Japan is a talk by Justin Jesty from the University of Washington, in the context outlined above, on people, time, place and beauty.

A longer more eloquent description is

At Yu Contemporary Art 900 SE 10th 7PM Free