Conversation Naoki Ishikawa x Yudai Kamisato | What I saw inside and outside

対談 石川直樹×神里雄大|中と外で見えてきたもの

The play ``Isla!'' is set on a remote island in the distant sea and depicts the rise and fall of a king who washed up from the outside world and the kingdom he created. Isla! Isla! ”. The person who created this small utopia, or rather a blockaded dystopia, was Yudai Kamisato, a director and playwright who presides over the Okazaki Art Theater. His unique words, which have multiple hometowns in Peru, Okinawa, and Hokkaido, often easily (and sometimes violently) transcend the fictional nature of stories, and convey realism such as the ridiculousness of human existence and the significance of politics. Delivering the feel of society to the audience. I had the opportunity to hear about their new work, which has already begun a national tour and will be performing in Tokyo and Yokohama in January and February. I was invited to the same table as CHANEL GINZA to see the world where the photo exhibition "K2", the culmination of a two-month challenge to reach the top of K2, the second most difficult mountain in the world, was well received. Naoki Ishikawa is a traveling photographer. The two creators, who have been in contact from time to time over the past few years, talk about travel, the island, and society.

Interview&Text: Taisuke Shimanuki Photo(portrait): Masamasa Nishino

from Peru at an accelerating rate

-The two of you have met several times for interviews and other events.

Ishikawa : We talk at each other's exhibitions and performances. I also had Kamisato-kun perform a short new piece with two actors. During a talk event at VACANT in Harajuku.

Kamisato : It was the end of 2013. Before I went to Peru.

Ishikawa : That's right. On the other hand, I just returned from Peru. Kamisato-kun was born in Peru, but since he hadn't been back in over 20 years, he recalled his distant memories and told me stories about his grandmother. After that, I actually went there.

Kamisato : I stayed at my grandmother's house in Lima for about a month and a half, and I went in and out of the Japanese community.

Ishikawa : What was the reason you went in the first place? Visit your roots?

Naoki Ishikawa

Kamisato : My grandma is almost 90 years old. My father goes back home from time to time, but I don't like it at all, and the reason was that he probably wanted to see his grandchildren's faces. When I actually went there, the first six months were really tough. It's so unsafe that people often get robbed of taxis, so my grandma gets really worried when I go out alone. I was only able to go out when my relatives took me out, so my grandma and I watched NHK on satellite and ate Japanese food, wondering, ``Where is this place?'' However, as I gradually got used to it and was able to walk around the neighborhood and take the bus, I started to feel more at ease.

Ishikawa : Kamisato-kun, it must be difficult because he's shy.

Kamisato : That's right (lol). But even though I was fearful, no one was paying attention to me, so I gradually became more brazen, going to Machu Picchu by myself, and even traveling to Argentina. I feel like I gained a sense of ease that I had never experienced overseas before.

Ishikawa : After that, you said that you started going to various places at an accelerated pace. This is a surprising change from the image of Kamisato three years ago, when he had never returned to Peru.

Kamisato : When I was in my 20s, I didn't even make it to Kanto (lol). I really felt like my sense of language was expanding, and although I didn't study anything in particular, my English became better after going to Peru. Isn't it quite scary before you jump, like when you jump in a swimming pool? But when I tried jumping, I thought, ``Oh, I can do it,'' and it seems like I can go relatively easily next time. It might be like that.

Okazaki Art Theater “+51 Aviation, San Borja” Photo:Yuta Fukitsuka

Okazaki Art Theater “+51 Aviation, San Borja” Photo:Yuta Fukitsuka

Ishikawa : First, I'd like to ask you about that change. I haven't seen the previous work, ``+51 Aviation, San Borja,'' but this time, ``Isla! Isla! Isla! ” was also created while relating to the island and my roots.

Kamisato : That's right. My father's side of the family is from Peru and Okinawa, so I also covered Okinawa after Peru. However, the direct reference for Isla is Chichijima in the Ogasawara Islands.

Ishikawa : I've been to Chichijima as well. The first time I went there was when I was in high school, and I even swam with dolphins while practicing free diving. Ogasawara is really interesting.

Kamisato : Chichijima has a closed-off feel that is different from Okinawa. The main island of Okinawa is crowded with people, and Naha looks just like any inland city at first glance, but Chichijima is completely different and has the feel of an ``isolated island.''

Reasons for being interested in the island

-I have never actually been to the Ogasawara Islands, so I only have knowledge, but the Ogasawara Islands are islands with a heterogeneous history. Ogasawara got its name during the Edo period, but Westerners continued to come and go during the period of national isolation, and it was occupied by the United States from the end of the Pacific War until 1968. It is said that people of various origins, including European and American Japanese, live there, and that the Ogasawara dialect, which is a combination of multiple languages, still exists today. What kind of atmosphere does the place have?

Ishikawa : It's really unique. We don't have a deeply rooted old culture, so we're trying to incorporate hula dancing and building new shrines and things like that. It's a strange island that's a mess, like Japan but not Japan, parts of it that look like America but not America, and that are on the flow from Micronesia but are not Micronesia. The English pronunciation of Bonin Island is also interesting.

-The name "Bonin Islands" comes from the Edo period name for uninhabited islands.

Kamisato : There's a bar called Yankee Town, and it's a place where locals gather. There, I became friends with Mr. Juney, a direct descendant of the first settler, Nathaniel Savore, and he took me to various places, including stories of wartime air raid shelters and crashed fighter planes.

Ishikawa : I've been to Yankee Town before, too. How long did you stay on the island?

Kamisato : Just two weeks. I was staying in a trailer house near the Omura area, which has a port. At first, it was a little tough because it was hot and I didn't know anyone (bitter smile). Yankee Town didn't get much attention at all at first. A guy named Lance, who had joined the US military, happened to be training near the town in Oklahoma where I was studying abroad, so things got really exciting, and I think that was the breakthrough.

Yudai Kamisato

-Do you think the characteristics of Ogasawara are reflected in “Isla,” which is set on an island?

Kamisato : As for the content of the play, I think it can be written with preliminary research, but the texture of the words used in the play was acquired through research, and that's reflected in the production as well. . Although we call it an interview, in reality we're just drinking the whole time (lol).

Ishikawa : To put it very simply, what is the story?

Kamisato : A king who washed up from outside the island uses the island's indigenous people as soldiers and gives speeches. The story is about how nations take shape, wars break out, rulers change, and so on.

Ishikawa : “Isla! Isla! Isla! ” is the title “Island!” island! island! I think that's what it means, but what word does it come from?

Kamisato : It's Spanish. There is an island in Mexico called Isla Mujeres. Isla means "island" and Mujeres means "woman". It's called "Island of Women," but at first I thought it was an island called Isla Mujeres, which had something to do with Islam or something (lol). From that point on, I thought "Isla" sounded good.

Okazaki Art Theater “Isla! Isla! Isla! ” From the Kyoto performance Photo: Takuya Matsumi

Okazaki Art Theater “Isla! Isla! Isla! ” From the Kyoto performance Photo: Takuya Matsumi

-What is the reason why Kamisato is interested in the island?

Kamisato : I wonder what it is. Each island has a different cultural logic, and each island is like a small country. I feel comfortable when I understand that logic, and I think that's largely due to my personal preference. That was a big reason why I headed to Chichijima.

Ishikawa : There is no clear center, but each part is independent and connected by an organic network. That's what's interesting about the archipelago.

- Mr. Ishikawa, you have photographed archipelagos and archipelagos such as the Togan Islands and the Queen Charlotte Islands in your photo book ``ARCHIPELAGO''.

Ishikawa : Yes. After all, islands are completely different from continents. Kunio Yanagida wrote, quite roughly, that islands are mountains, and mountains are like islands. As you can see, the island is also a mountain that juts out from the sea. I really like this idea that islands are like mountains, and mountains are like islands. If you make the sea clear around the Seto Inland Sea, you can see the mountains sticking out unevenly, and this is connected to the scenery around Kagawa. If we think of islands as not being made up of relationships with a distant center, but as standing within a larger organic network, the way we see the world will change. and. Islands have a strange power that doesn't converge or draw them to something bigger, and I find that very interesting.

“ARCHIPELAGO” Shueisha/November 2009

“ARCHIPELAGO” Shueisha/November 2009

Seeing/being seen relationship

Kamisato : I understand the term ``Yamagashima.'' This is a little off-topic, but the other day I had a conversation with architect Kyohei Sakaguchi about ``Isla.'' What I felt then was that Mr. Sakaguchi was, after all, an inside person.

Ishikawa : What does “Naka no Hito” mean?

Kamisato : I think I'm someone who looks in from the outside. I'm the one who's messing around with things I'm not a party to. But I feel like Mr. Sakaguchi is like a fraudster among the parties involved (lol)

Ishikawa : Well, that's right (lol).

- Mr. Sakaguchi is involved in various activities based on the idea of creating an independent nation in Kumamoto. While he is involved in the situation from the inside, he also has the side of a charming trickster.

Ishikawa : I'm also a traveler at heart, so I think I'm basically an outsider. Always a foreigner, he first enters a place as an alien other.

Kamisato : Over the past few years, I've stopped being the type of person to set up an atelier or a base, and I feel like the group I run called ``Okazaki Art Theater'' is just a fiction. Even Mr. Ishikawa is a person who doesn't know where he is most of the time. Are you thinking of setting up a base?

Ishikawa : I guess not. Of course, I want to have a deep relationship with the place I have decided to call ``here,'' but that doesn't mean I want to move or settle there. For example, an island has always been viewed from a larger place, so it tends to be defined by the perspective of a central point. It's easy to create a stereotype that southern islands = beautiful seas and blue skies. It's just a completely central point of view. However, if you stay on the island for a long time and are in a position to look at it from the island, you will see the world differently. When we look at the big thing from a small perspective, new discoveries and surprises occur, and the known world is turned upside down. Perhaps this is who I am as a traveler: to the island, and from the island, to keep looking and looking while thinking between both perspectives.

Kamisato : Although it's not an island, Mr. Ishikawa has climbed K2 and taken photos. You are holding a solo exhibition in Ginza ("Naoki Ishikawa Photo Exhibition K2", which is being held at Chanel Nexus Hall until December 27th), which is more important, taking photos or climbing mountains?

"The Himalayas by Naoki Ishikawa"

“The Himalayas by Naoki Ishikawa” (published by TOO MUCH Magazine)
Starting with Everest in 2011 and ending with K2 in the summer of 2015, Naoki Ishikawa's entire record of his five-year expedition to the Himalayas has been compiled into a special issue of TOO MUCH Magazine.
[B5 version / total 228 pages / 2,160 yen]

Ishikawa : Photography. After all, if you don't have a camera, there's no need to climb the mountain. If I couldn't take photos, I wouldn't climb a mountain.

-Isn't the fact that your perspective changes when you get a look from a small place highlighted by the act of photographing something that presents a certain perspective through a camera?

Ishikawa : I'm very conscious of "seeing/being seen." Being a photographer is a job that involves looking, but there is also a part of me that captures the light that I see through continuous looking. On the other hand, while I am watching, I am also the one being seen. It's the same no matter where you travel, but just being conscious of not just ``looking'' but ``being watched'' by something bigger will change your photos a little bit. The same goes for portraits. I'm looking at that person and photographing them, but I'm being watched by that person. The "gaze" is something that is seen precisely because it is being looked at. I think it is in this gap between "seeing and being seen" that I continue to travel and take photographs.

Kamisato : What I think about the relationship between "seeing/being seen" is the change in subjectivity. When one's subjectivity changes to objectivity and the center of the relationship begins to move, feelings that should belong to the individual no longer feel personal. When you live in a city like Tokyo and do theater, you get the feeling that emotions are prioritized, or that emotions are given too much importance. I often think about emotions through acting, and I come to the conclusion that emotions don't matter. In other words, it is the audience ``watching'' who has emotions, and the emotions of the actors ``watching'' are irrelevant. It's okay to be passive.

A bird’s-eye view/a sense of ownership

-This time's "Isla" is a chronicle that depicts the rise and fall of a certain island. I think it's a story told from the perspective of the island from the outside, but I feel there is a vector that moves away from telling the story from an independent perspective. However, at the same time, I felt that a certain narrative device related to the narrator imbues the story with a different logic that goes beyond just separation.

Kamisato : That idea is about a subjective perspective, but I feel like I've moved into a mode of looking at things from a more bird's-eye view.

Ishikawa : Does the “island” have any character-like feelings?

Kamisato : I think he has a personality. I get happy and angry, but I almost never feel sad.

-It's really passive in the sense that your emotions don't directly affect you.

Kamisato : I see. As I was writing the play, I thought, "Huh? Whose lines are these?" At first, I was writing it based on the story of ``Bouken Dankichi'' (a popular manga serialized by Keizo Shimada from 1933 to 1939, which depicts the activities of a boy who becomes the king of a southern island), but gradually It's no longer a story about humans.

Conversation Naoki Ishikawa x Yudai Kamisato

-Kamisato-san previously said in an interview that ``I'm not doing theater, I'm dealing with politics.'' Do you think that has something to do with the changes in your work?

Kamisato : When I said things like ``It's not theater, it's politics,'' I thought it was catchy at the time, but I got quite angry at it (lol). A lot of people say, ``It's a play!'' and I feel like I'm sorry.

Ishikawa : That's right (lol).

Kamisato : When you go abroad for a long period of time or move away from where you normally live, what happens in Japan becomes someone else's problem. When I went to Peru, I think the Liberal Democratic Party was doing something again, but everything just didn't click. The thing that struck me most was the incident surrounding Mamoru Samuragochi's ghostwriting scandal.

Ishikawa : That's a fake story (lol).

Kamisato : I thought, ``That's interesting,'' but I really didn't understand the scale of politics anymore. I've always wondered why I can no longer feel a sense of ownership in the literal sense of the word.

Ishikawa : That's the reaction of a normal, honest person. I was traveling across the globe from the North Pole to the South Pole for a year in 2000, and the Japanese news that shocked me the most was the marriage of Takanohana and Rie Miyazawa (lol). When something is even slightly related to your own territory, or involves places you've been to before or people you've met before, you start to feel a sense of ownership.

Kamisato : When I look at social media, I feel like people on the right and on the left are attacking each other or someone else by saying plausible things. I shouldn't have watched it, but I feel like I can't help myself because I have a bias that says you shouldn't say anything unless you're the person involved.

-This is my personal opinion, but I don't think thinking about politics necessarily means expressing your intentions on social media or retweeting an article. In the world of Japanese art as well, I believe that in recent years a considerable number of works have appeared that deal with hot social and political issues as their themes, but the role of art is to focus on the universality of human beings and history. If so, I don't think it's practical unless you take a broader perspective and include things that are popular and secular by default. In that sense, I think you could say that Mr. Kamisato's sense is extremely reasonable.

Kamisato : I'm feeling really anxious today because I've been told "Matto" so many times... (bitter smile). It's a really common story, but I don't think it's politics to spread the word about your own principles, their correctness, and attacks on others. If I want to deal with politics rather than theater, I think it means that I want to present a politics other than the one I just mentioned.

Naoki Ishikawa Photo Exhibition “K2”
Naoki Ishikawa Photo Exhibition “K2”
December 5th (Sat) - 27th (Sun) 2015 12:00-20:00

Photo book “K2”
Photo book “K2” (published by SLANT)
A book that condenses the days of the expedition to the world's second highest peak, K2 (8611m). The fifth installment of the Himalayan photo book series.
[H280mm×W300mm / 78 pages / hardcover / 3,700 yen + tax]

Naoki Ishikawa
Born in Tokyo in 1977. photographer. Completed doctoral course at Tokyo University of the Arts, Graduate School of Fine Arts. Interested in fields such as anthropology and folklore, he continues to publish his works while traveling everywhere from remote areas to cities. For ``NEW DIMENSION'' (Akaakasha) and ``POLAR'' (Little More), he won the Japan Photographic Association Newcomer's Award and the Kodansha Publishing Culture Award. Received the Domon Ken Award for ``CORONA'' (Seidosha). His many books include ``The Last Adventurer'' (Shueisha), which won the Ken Kaiko Nonfiction Award. Recently, he has published five consecutive photo book series "Lhotse", "Qomolangma", "Manaslu", "Makalu" and "K2" (SLANT) focusing on 8000m peaks in the Himalayas. His latest publications include the photo books Kunisaki Peninsula, Hair, Lagoon and Satoyama (Seidosha), and SAKHALIN (Amana).

Yudai Kamisato
Born in 1982 in Lima, Republic of Peru. Director, writer, and director of Okazaki Art Theater. His father is a Peruvian immigrant from Okinawa. The work directed by Kamisato, who was born in Peru and raised in Kawasaki, has both the color and language sense of the blazing sun of South America, as well as the inorganic nature and nervousness of a new town. In 2006, he won the Best Director Award at the Toga Directors Competition for ``Desire by the Tail'' (written by Pablo Picasso). His works ``Haircut-san'' (2009) and ``Black Coffee (for People Who Can't Drink)'' (2013) were each nominated as finalists for the Kunio Kishida Drama Award. He also made his debut as a novelist with ``Kyokuji'' (published in the June 2013 issue of ``Shincho'').

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