21 Mar - 7 Jun, 2015
Arts Maebashi | Gunma, Japan
Work Like a Dog
Commissioned by Open Satellite, Bellevue,
for an exhibition "Corner of Bitter and Sweet" Curated by Yoko Ott, November
The video, "Work Like a Dog", is a part of the site specific installation "Corner of Sweet and BItter" I created during my two months stay at Open Satellite, an artist in residence in Bellevue, one of the wealthiest community in the United States where Microsoft bases at. The installation deals with history of the location where the Open Satellite stands today. Much of the land in Bellevue were cleared by tough and dangerous labour of Japanese immigrants in the first half of the 20th century. After cleared, the land was farmed by them. They were mostly growing strawberries. The very location where Open Satellite stands was also farmed by one of Japanese American family, Yoshimoto family. But soon after the Pearl Harbor attack, all Japanese Americans who were living in the west coast line, that included 300 of them living in Bellevue, were interned into concentration camps. They lost much of their properties and belongings. Also, many of Nisei (the second generations) who were Americans by birth, volunteered to go to the war in Europe from those concentration camps, in order to prove their loyalty towards the Nation. Many of them lost their lives. After the war, Bellevue was turned from a small farm village into a fast growing business and shopping district. Only 7 families came back after the war. The farming community of Japanese Americans in Bellevue was forever lost.
As a starting point of the project, I re-created a strawberry field in the space of Open Satellite to make symbolic gesture towards the buried history. And in order to increase the performativity of the work and to incorporate social dynamism of today's Bellevue, I created the video "Work Like a Dog" to fit in the installation.
I hired one of illegal immigrant workers from Latin America who are seeking day labour jobs at outside of a big hardware shop in Bellevue. I taught him the melody of "Star Spangled Banner", and inserted his body into a microcosmic system that expresses loyalty towards America and American way of life. The video is documentation of bodily reaction of the man within this system.