Imagining Post 3.11 Futures and Living with Anthropogenic Change

Conference/Symposium | February 14 – 15, 2020 every day | 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m. | Sutardja Dai Hall, Banatao Auditorium (#310)

 Institute of East Asian Studies (IEAS), Center for Japanese Studies (CJS), Japan Society for the Promotion of Science

The symposium brings together artists, activists and scholars for a series of conversations on the 3.11 disasters and the effects of anthropogenic change. The conversations will explore how people in northeastern Japan are living with the consequences of the 3.11 disasters and how different communities with varying livelihoods and vulnerabilities have responded to and invented tactics to survive them. While the works we discuss will provide attention to details that help contextualize the disasters and their aftermath within Japan, they will also reveal new contours for knowledge production and call forth forms of community existing in the commons of matter, survival and invention.

Symposium events are open and free to the public. No registration necessary.

Day 1 - Friday, February 14 | 9:00am-6:00pm
9:00-9:15am | Coffee and Pastries
9:15-9:30 | Opening Remarks
9:30-11:00 | Panel 1: Ethnographies of Everyday Life
* Paper #1 (9:30-10) Dylan Hallingstad O’Brien
* Paper #2 (10-10:30) Man-Kei Tam
* Moderator (10:30-11) Jon Pitt
11:00-12:20pm | Break
12:30-2:30 | Roundtable #1: A Conversation on “Gender, Knowledge Production and Food Politics” with Mayumi Fukunaga and Junko Habu, and Aya Kimura
* Moderators (2-2:30) Tomoe Otsuki and Roddey Reid
2:30-2:50 | Break
3:00-6:00 | Film Screening: Fukushima wa kataru (2018), Conversation with Toshikuni Doi (director), Mimi Long and Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano

Day 2 - Saturday, February 15 | 9:00am-7:30pm
9:00-9:20am | Coffee and Pastries
9:30-10:30 | Film Compilation Screening
10:30-11:30 | Keynote Address: Livia Monnet, “Asian Women Artists Imagine Nuclear and Post-Extinction Futures”
11:30-12:50pm | Break
1:00-3:00 | Panel #2: Nuclear Futures: Documentary Cinema and Speculative Fiction
* Paper #1 (1-1:30) Mimi Long
* Paper #2 (1:30-2) Hideaki Fujiki
* Paper #3 (2-2:30) Toshiya Ueno
* Moderators (2:30-3) Saeko Kimura and Shelby Oxenford
3:00-3:10 | Break
3:10-5:50 | Film Screening: A2-B-C (2013), Conversation with Ian Thomas Ash (director) and Hideaki Fujiki
6:00-7:30 | Roundtable #2: Extending the Conversation on Anthropogenic Climate Worlds: Lisa Bloom, Rebecca Hogue and Greg Levine with Anne-Lise Francois (moderator)

Envisioning Contaminated and Post-Extinction Futures in Recent Moving-Image Works by Asian Women Artists
Livia Monnet, University of Montreal

Building on two forthcoming projects, the talk examines the aesthetic and philosophy of the future in the recent work of three Asian women artists: Almagul Menlibayeva (Kazakhstan-Germany), Larissa Sansour (Israel/Palestine-Denmark), and Seto Momoko (Japan-France). Menlibayeva’s three-part installation Transformation (2013-2016) posits a continuum between Kazakhstan’s Soviet past, its neoliberal present and (what the government advertises as) the country’s high-tech knowledge economy of the near future through futuristic imagery and the highlighting of the legacies of the Soviet-era nuclear tests as well as the risks of nuclear fusion energy. Sansour’s installation Heirloom (2019) envisions a post-disaster future where life is lived in an underground bunker where scientists have developed posthuman clones and artificial gardens from salvaged DNA. In contrast to the installations of Menlibayeva and Sansour, Seto’s experimental VR film Planet ∞ (Planet Infinity, 2017) looks unflinchingly into a post-extinction future where humans and most other living species have vanished, and mutated giant mushrooms, mold, and giant tadpoles are the only embodiments of life.

While the moving-image works I will discuss, articulate and practice/enact a critical eco-aesthetic and eco-politics in a hybrid speculative mode – a mode that, rather than simply revisiting time-honored tropes of (Euro-American) science fiction, mobilizes the subversive potential of what Donna Haraway has described as speculative fabulation – they differ in their respective approach to yet another SF imaginary, that of speculative futures. Zooming in onto a series of tropes and concepts that structure both the historical and the speculative worlds imagined by Menlibayeva, Sansour and Seto – alterlife (defined as “life already altered (but) …also life open to alteration”(M.Murphy)), immanence, memory and the infra-world of toxicity – I will show that the (im)possible, seemingly dystopian futures staged or looming in the work of the three artists are, variously and tentatively, hopeful. The (counter)speculation visualized by the three artists through specific techniques and strategies, I argue, works against current modelizations and decodings of planetary anthropogenic crisis and the defuturing tendencies of neoliberal finance capitalism by seeding a tenuous, yet potentially empowering, magical image of a (decolonial) new Earth.

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