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Photo by Marcel Schaap

The Senkotsu (Mis)translation Project (2006)

This interactive performance installation explores the entangled history between Okinawa, Japan, and the U.S. military, grappling with ethnic and national identity in these times of globalization. Senkotsu evokes the battle of Okinawa -- the final conflict between the Japanese Imperial Army and the U.S. military -- fought entirely on the Okinawan archipelago, during which one-third of the local population perished. The U.S. continues its colonial presence there to this day.
Senkotsu at Highways Performance Space, 2009
The audience plays a series of "bone," "egg," and "mistranslation" games. They care for a bone, bury it in shells, wash it in video projection light, and speak messages to it through a (Mis)translation machine. The games are themselves a "mistranslated" version of the traditional Okinawan bone-washing burial ritual senkotsu. An ensemble gives voice to local Okinawan Americans who offer up stories of war, occupation, and connection to a distant homeland.

Denise Uyehara, director and set design
Joe Butoh, Pete Lee, Joyce Lu, Waewdao Sirisook, ensemble
Allyson Nakamoto, Lynde Tomori, and Yuko Yamauchi, sanshin music ensemble

Sound Design David Karagianis

Set and prop fabrication by Andrew Johnson, Elana Melissa Hill, Pat Kramme, Marcel Schaap, Lee Ann Goya, Joe Butoh

Video projection footage Yoshiko Shimada and Denise Uyehara

Premiered at Highways Performance Space and the Barnsdall Municipal Art Gallery/COLA Awards.


Made possible through support from the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs COLA Award and Project Grant, and the Asian Cultural Council.

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