Photo Exhibition “Ango”
Period: 2018年4月13日～5月13日 9:00~21:00
＊Closed: April 16th (Mon.), 23rd (Mon.), May 1st (Tues.), 7th (Mon.) and 8th (Tues.) Venue: Sakyukan (5218-1 Nishiohatacho, Chuo-ku, Niigata-shi TEL: 025-222-2676）
Gallery Talk: April 14th 15:00~16:00
Satoshi Machiguchi (graphic designer and publisher), Hiroshi Okura (director of Sakyukan) and Sakiko Nomura
Reading Circle “Senso to Hitori no Onna (War and a Woman)”: April 28th 15:00~16:30
Akiyuki Ueda（playwright, director and actor）
Bokugo to iu Yume (A Dream about an Air-raid Shelter)
Hiroshi Okura (director of Sakyukan)
Nomura, the main character in Senso to Hitori no Onna, used to live together with a woman during the war, but she was injured by a falling rock when adding a wall to an air-raid shelter, and was unable to stand until the end of the war. He had gotten separated from other evacuees during an air-raid, and though he decided to try to put out the burning houses, he was pulled into the air-raid shelter by a woman. The air-raid shelter was a hole made by each family on their property. It was just a simple underground room. Each family was ordered to create the facility in combination with the order forbidding them to leave during an air-raid and the statute requiring them to put out fires. The two of them magnificently fulfilled their legal directives as they took refuge in the air-raid shelter and continued splashing the house with buckets of water.
And that is not all. At the end of the war as the air-raids continued, the firmly believed that, after the war, the men would likely become slaves and the women would likely all either be raped or taken by the Americans as mistresses. This was completely due to the brainwashing and influence of government education at the time. For a moment before that “end,” the two, who were not married, fell into asymmetrical sex (the woman was frigid).
This novel shows warm empathy for the navy sailors who participated in and died in the attack on Pearl Harbor after the start of the war between America and Japan. During the war, Ango Sakaguchi wrote coarsely of a German architect that praised the traditional beauty of Japan that, “Taut had to discover Japan, and we never discovered it because we actually are Japanese.” “If you need to, you should tear down Horyuji Temple and build a parking lot.” This book was released the year following the end of the war.
Sections were censored from the book by the occupying forces, including “The woman really loved the war.” “War is just a toy, right?” and “We should have sucked more out of the war.” An uncensored version was made public in 2000, more than half a century later.
Then, ten or so years later, during a period in which a war could have broken out at any time anywhere, including Japan, a bookbinder named Satoshi Machiguchi published Sakiko Nomura : Ango, which combined this bizarre novel and photographs taken by Sakiko Nomura, as a part of the series “Japanese Photographs and Japanese Modern Literature.” The “book” is twisted as entwine Ango’s attitude toward war in his own words, a photographer and a bookbinder.
A former inspector for the occupying forces detected a feeling of “love for war” in the story and censored it. Ango rewrote “the woman loved war” as “she was a woman of an air-raid nation,” but this too was censored. An “air-raid nation” meant a brief moment in time when values are inverted in a country that, while being beaten down to the point where it cannot engage in war, still refuses to acknowledge defeat. It is a time when compliance with laws enforced by the country result in destruction of the country and fear sown forms the source of my limitless joy. Air-raid shelters – really just dangerous holes thought to be a shortcut to death during the disasters accompanying air-raids – were actually symbolic shelters that protect this absurd space. The house belonging to the two was the only house left unburned in the burned field, and the air-raid shelter was sticking up out of the ground due to the house turning over. The air-raid shelter itself was the inverted country, and there, irregular love becomes regular; the unfeeling becomes felt; nations become individuals; individuals become nations; and war becomes a toy.
Machiguchi has sharp intuition, as seen by the fact that he read this novel and further by the fact that he selected Sakiko Nomnura as the photographer.
Sakiko Nomura’s dark back photographs and the fulcrum of Machiguchi’s layout that skillfully cuts out excerpts from the text open to the present time the rusted dream door of the blood stained air-raid shelter that Ango Sakaguchi carried out of the war. After the war, her mentor, Nobuyoshi Araki, thoroughly turned the black box of photography into an Ango-type air-raid shelter (meaning an inverted nation), and he was a photographer who upturned the hierarchy of the world, the nation and the individual. Sakiko Nomura (miraculously the same name as the main character in the novel) placed international war upon that box she was handed, and she became a photographer who turned the gender considered one of fighting and attacking back on itself.
Senso to Hitori no Onna did not necessarily succeed as a novel – in the same way the man and woman’s air-raid shelter was incomplete and necessarily had to crumble. However, that is not important. The important thing is to remember that this novel was in itself a reckless and lawless act that attempted to take as luggage the air-raid shelter of an air-raid nation across the border of defeat.
The blurred images, distant swaying lights and the quietness of rooms astir with fish and people contained in Sakiko Nomura’s photographs – the damp animal nose sticking out of the darkness – the blackness of the pages shining with a texture like the scene of a nude woman – the chimney – the wet town – the snow – and the spiral shape of the “book” as designed by Satoshi Machiguchi are all luminous.