May 12 – June 24, 2017
Cindy Mochizuki’s dawn to dust examined the effects of war and the unreliability of memory. It was based on Mochizuki’s father’s experiences in Japan following the release of Japanese Canadians from the internment camps of B.C. in 1949. The installation included audio, animations, video and sculpture created from interviews and various archives to create moving images and optical illusions that appear to have both realistic and magical elements. The resulting exhibition examined recollections of place and home through a lense of history and exile.
Mochizuki’s short films have been screened in Hungary, Holland, Korea, Toronto, Los Angeles and Montreal. Recent exhibitions and projects include: Shako Club, grunt gallery (2015), AIR Yonago (2014), Fictive Communities Asia, Koganecho Bazaar (2014), On the Subject of Ghosts, Hamilton Artists Inc (2013), Yokai & Other Spirits, Toronto Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (2013), and To|From BC Electric Railway 100 Years, Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art (2012).
Places of Memory
Interpretive essay by Toby Lawrence
Memory is life, borne by living societies founded in its name. It remains in permanent evolution, open to the dialectic of remembering and forgetting, unconscious of its successive deformations, vulnerable to manipulation and appropriation, susceptible to being long dormant and periodically revived.
~ Pierre Nova, 1989.1
Oscillating between poetic intention and full disclosure, Cindy Mochizuki assembles instances of engagement with her family’s history and their memories of their homes and lives in Oouchi in Shizuoka and Shida-machi Fukuoka-ken, Japan after being expatriated from Canada in 1946.
Following the end of the Second World War and their release from internment camps in Sandon, Bayfarm, Popoff, and Slocan, B.C. where they spent four years, Mochizuki’s grandparents with six children were given two choices and, along with nearly 10,000 other Japanese Canadians, opted for ‘repatriation’ rather than ‘relocation.’2
Through interviews with her father, four aunts, and one uncle, and her own site research, Mochizuki locates the actions of memory within dawn to dust. The conflation of history and memory, that would otherwise distinguish (biased) fact from experiential subjectivity,3 unfolds in the re-articulation of key characters from the siblings’ stories in Ghost, Statue, Snake, Dog, and Bird, and through their collective and individual descriptions in Lines to Remember. This active recollecting represented through their aging hands–solo or together–lends itself to the ways in which stories are rebuilt within our bodies, through forgetting and remembering. The application of stop-motion animation to bring life to the characters constructed out of clay, porcelain, and paintings in Ghost, Statue, Snake, Dog, and Bird alludes to the fantastical tone that frequently dominated the interviews. The memories of characters and events build from the Mochizuki children’s experiences as Canadian citizens living in the country of their ancestors, but not of their home—devastated by war. The “visual stories” told by the siblings, are, in many ways, like the animations,“handmade.”4
The bookwork accompanying the adjacent projection, Lines to Remember, functions as another articulation of remembering and of the actions undertaken by Mochizuki in her own process of gathering stories and understanding her family’s histories. This layering additionally offers a bridge to the animated sculptures on the other side of the central wall, wherein each character represents a point of recollection abstracted from the trauma of dispossession and systemic prejudice. Through the exploration of storytelling as memory, dawn to dust moves beyond scripted behaviours and parameters of enacting and processing personal and collective histories.
1Pierre Nova, “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire,” in Representations 26 (Spring 1989): 8.
2 The forced internment of approximately 22,000 Japanese Canadians during World War II was fuelled by pre-existing racism throughout Canada and spurred by Japan’s attack on Hawaii’s Pearl Harbour. Personal and agricultural property was confiscated by the Canadian Government in order to financethe internment, and families and individuals were removed from their homes, processed at Hastings Park in Vancouver, and relocated to internment camps, many throughout the interior of B.C. including the Okanagan. Prior to their internment, the Mochizuki’s live in Walnut Grove, B.C, just outside of Vancouver.
3 Nicholas Russell, “Collective Memory Before and After Halbwachs,” in The French Review, 79:(2006): 798.
4Author in conversation with Cindy Mochizuki, April 30, 2017.
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