[Site- & People-Specific Performances]
Searching for the Sound of Taji
[2014, Japan] site-specific performance, sound walk concert
Commissioned by an association of farmers in the Taji area of Fukui, I created a sound-walk performance with local residents in a valley of rice fields surrounded by mountains. Through a month-long residency, I researched about forgotten histories of the place and their myths by talking with elderly people in the village and learned about their ways of life and how they have changed in recent years. I created instruments from local bamboo trees with children and worked with local amateur musicians, including a taiko group, a gagaku ensemble, singers, wind and brass instrumentalists, and so on. In addition, I studied about special characteristics of this land with a botanist and an anthropologist. As a result of this process, I created and directed a site-specific and audience-participatory music performance event entitled “Searching for the Sound of Taji,” performed by the villagers themselves, from young to old, as part of “Flower, Food, and Sound Art Fair.” The whole village –– rice fields, mountains, forests, a spring, a temple, a shrine, a community center, and a garden –– became the stage for the performance, through which the audience was invited to walk while listening to the sounds from multiple locations in the environment. The project attempted to empower the rice farming community by rediscovering their natural, cultural, and human resources through music.
Calling from a Changtang Steppe
[2014, India] site-specific performance, sound installation
As part of Earth Art Project 2014, I made music with children of nomadic families from the Himalayan mountains by documenting signs we received from the earth and the sky. I worked at two schools in Ladakh, one at 3800 meters high altitude in Nang village, and another at 5000 meters in Puga in the Changtang region. At each school, I stayed for 2 weeks and conducted workshops with the school children to make music through dialogues with their environments. By creating instruments from found objects and making use of natural acoustic phenomena such as the echoes from surrounding mountains and the whistling sound of strong winds, I composed site-specific music performances entitled “Bilungpa’s March” in Nang and “Calling from a Changtang Steppe” in Puga, which were performed by the children. In addition, I created sound installation pieces using recordings from the workshop processes, which were exhibited at the schools.
for children’s voice, wind organs, and self-made instruments, premiered at Nang Middle School and Nomadic Residential School Puga, in Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, India.
At a Meeting of Microcosms
[2013, India] site-specific performance
As part of “Prominority: Master’s of Soil” art project, I stayed for a month in a village of the Santali people, an indigenous minority group in West Bengal. Together with the villagers, I created a performance ritual at rice fields in order to celebrate various sounds from their daily lives.
Sehalai Village, West Bengal, India.
The Zoo, the Ship, and the Beggar
[2012, Indonesia] site-specific performance
Commissioned by Sharing Art Garden and Festival of Ocean Mountain Arts 2012, I facilitated music workshops with children from displaced families at an interfaith kindergarten in Borobudur and composed “the Zoo, the Ship, and the Beggar” for these children. Borobudur’s local community has been divided since the 70’s, when the Indonesian government relocated many villagers to build a cultural heritage park around Borobudur Temple. Now, the residents are very much isolated from the temple, which used to be the pillar of their collective identity. The project was an attempt at reclaiming the temple as the people’s garden and inviting the villagers to listen to each other and imagine multiple dimensions of time. “The Zoo, the Ship, and the Beggar” was performed by the children at the temple and later recorded in the village in collaboration with Found Sound Nation, a music collective based in New York.
for violin duo and children’s voice, Borobudur Temple, Magelan, Indonesia.
Code Purnama Hatiku
[2011, Indonesia] site-specific performance
As part of the Asian Public Intellectuals (API) Regional Project “Humans, Nature, and Local Knowledge,” co-organized by the API Community and Pemerti Kali Code, a local NGO in Yogyakarta, I conducted a collective music composition workshop with flood survivors along the Code River in Yogyakarta. The project was aimed at empowering the traumatized inner-city community of informal settlers, after the volcanic eruption of Mount Merapi in 2010 and ensuing flood disasters. The community faced an imminent conflict: the community needed to come together so that their voices could be heard through the reconstruction process of the city, but the villagers were fighting with each other as a result of the perceived inequality in the distribution of resources and support among the riverside settlements. Seven participants from different settlements with various economic and social backgrounds gathered to create communal music of the river. We traveled along the river to visit each other’s homes and shared their experiences of the flood from multiple perspectives. Based on this journey, we together composed “Code Purnama Hatiku” (Code, the full moon of my heart), which was performed by the participants in front of the community members, as well as the government and the media. The event resulted in a signing of a MOU between the Code River community, the government, and academic institutions, in which all the parties agreed to commit themselves to corporate with each other for a more inclusive development of the city post disaster.
for voice, angklung, guitar, recorder, and various self-made instruments, performed at Jogoyudan village, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
Lullaby of the 21st Century
[2008, Japan] concert music, site-specific project
I designed and facilitated a collective composition workshop with citizens of Kanazawa as part of the museum’s “Graphism in the Wilderness: Kiyoshi Awazu" exhibition. Seven participants, varying in their age from 24 to 70 years old, traveled together through the exhibition and exchanged their shifts in perception with each other. From this shared experience surfaced a collective narrative, which was then mapped onto a graphic score and translated into music. As a result of this creative dialogue, “Lullaby of the 21st Century” was composed and performed by the participants at the museum.
for voice, piano, saxophone, Theremin, Taisho-goto, recorder, harmonica, ocarina, and self-made instruments, performed at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan.
Y/i : feeling out of harmony in Yokohama
[2007, Japan] concert music, site-specific project
As part of the hall’s composer-in-residence program, I collaborated with Sachiyo Tsurumi (composer) and Keisuke Mitsuhashi (music critic) in organizing a community-based project entitled “Hama–Mix=Yokohama+Remix.” Each resident artist worked with a group of Yokohama citizens: my group consisted of four people varying from 7 to 54 years old. Together, we composed music based on fieldtrips around the neighborhood, which included newly developed commercial bay areas as well as an old Chinatown and a flophouse district. In addition, the resident composers created new pieces of music by re-mixing the materials produced through all the group workshops. These re-mixed compositions as well as the group compositions were premiered at the concert hall by professional musicians and the workshop participants.
Yokohama Minato-mirai Hall, Kanagawa, Japan.
TOKYO BORDERS TRAVEL SKETCH: The Seven Deadly Sins
[2006, Japan] site-specific performance, audience participatory theater
In 2005, I founded an art group called minorimajorite-travel with Shirotama Hitsujiya (theater director) and Ayako Miyake (art education producer) to investigate the issues of identity from multiple perspectives through creative dialogues between what may be minorities / majorities in a society. A project entitled “Tokyo Borders Travel Sketch” challenged unspoken borders within a society between “abled” and “disabled,” which could be inverted depending on a context. Professional and non-professional performers with experiences of disability due to their minority status in contemporary Tokyo were brought together through grassroots outreach and open calls for audition. The project team included people with various physical and mental disabilities, a gender identity disorder, and an eating disorder, as well as sexual minorities, a former alcoholic, a foreign resident, and a homeless person. Together, we formed a caravan and traveled across different layers of Tokyo, which were often invisible or inaccessible without certain perspectives or backgrounds. As a result of this year-long research and creation process, an audience participatory tour-performance entitled “The Seven Deadly Sins” was presented on April 2006, with support from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Bureau of Transportation and the Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company Social Welfare Program. The performances took place throughout a day, on public buses, streets, and at a warehouse-turned-theater, in Tokyo. While the audience members traveled with the performers, they were constantly asked to define themselves among others. By inviting people to become aware of how they draw borders, the project attempted to visualize our unconscious and yet universal processes of identification and discrimination.
on public buses, streets, and Space EDGE, Tokyo, Japan
Upacara Bayu Ruci: Making Love with the Winds of Solo
[2004, Indonesia] site-specific performance, audience participatory ritual
I created and directed a ritual celebration of the wind spirits at a Javanese temple from the 15th Century on Mount Lawu in Central Java. With support from the Tourism Department of Karaganyar District Government, the event was realized in collaboration with Suprapto Suryodarmo (meditation movement artist), Daryl Wilson (visual artist), Kaori Okado (choreographer), a Javanese gamelan ensemble, and dancers from the local and international communities, as well as the mountain village residents and the audience. The audience was an integral part of the ritual, in which they were invited to “make love” with the wind using multiple senses, through listening, smelling, seeing, tasting, touching, and etc.
Sukuh Temple, Karanganyar, Indonesia.
Lagu Tanabata Tetanggaku
[2004, Indonesia] site-specific performance
Based on common mythologies and storytelling traditions from Japan and Indonesia, I organized a cross-cultural art festival entitled “Tanabata Festival” in collaboration with Mizuho Matsunaga (performance artist) and several community-based art organizations in Bandung, including Jendela Ide, Toko Buku Kecil, and Bandung Center for New Media Arts. I worked with local children to build instruments from found objects through fieldwork and composed “Lagu Tanabata Tetanggaku (My neighbors’ Tanabata song),” which was performed by the children at the Common Room.
Bandung Center for New Media Arts, Indonesia.
© Tomoko Momiyama