Woman Center Stage: Chiori Miyagawa
I Have Been to Hiroshima Mon Amour
The Women Center Stage Festival, which runs from April 8 to 27 at the Culture Project, will feature women artists “whose work calls attention to human struggles globally.” The schedule includes panels, performance and theater works which range from the entertaining to the provocative. Included in the lineup are a project by Andolan Theatre with New York City immigrant domestic workers as actors and storytellers, a play by seven American playwrights about seven women around the world who have struggled against injustice, a musical by Lenelle Moise that explores black womanhood, a new work in two voices by writer/performer Heather Woodbury, and an adaptation by playwright/performer Eisa Davis (currently starring in Passing Strange) of a memoir by Melba Beals, one of the Little Rock Nine who initiated the integration of American schools. There will also be panels considering the experience of women in the military and one on women and the criminal justice system (among others).
The three characters, a Japanese woman who was killed instantly when the bomb was dropped in Hiroshima, her lover, an architect who attempts to rebuild in the ruins of his city, and a French actress in Hiroshima to make a film about peace who becomes the architect’s lover, travel through three time periods: 1945, 1959, and today. The play is both a provocative riff on a classic French film with a similar title, (and the Eurocentric eye implicit in that film) and an ironic comment on our current engagement in war.
Jean Wagner, director of the play and artistic director of Voice and Vision, says about the Hiroshima project, “I brought the idea of the play to Chiori. I am compelled by the juxtaposition of such horror (Hiroshima) and such love. I think it's important right now that we see people as people, and not as ethnicities. I feel like the Japanese Woman is so important, as a character who bears witness to the atrocity of Hiroshima. We so often forget that real people die in war – and particularly in Hiroshima, where the bodies essentially vanished. I love the way that Chiori has, in such spare and poetic language, evoked the after-effects of such a momentous moment in the history of wars, and made the people involved so immediate.”
One of the refrains that moves throughout the play is, “There is no more Hiroshima,” a statement that evokes both the absence of the place that once was, and the naïve hope that it will never happen again. Absence or lack—what was wiped out—is conjured not only in terms of place, but in terms of body. The man says, “I’ve been thinking about you….About your hair and your skin. Your lips and your eyes,” To which the Japanese woman replies, “All gone.” This same character says, in the first scene of the play, “There is no Hiroshima. There will never be Hiroshima again.” The final words of the play are the man saying, “Of course I believe it. Of course we believe it. Never again.”
If only it were so. But we haven’t learned from history. We have to repeat our words until we do. Women Center Stage promises to remind us of the terms of engagement, and of what is at stake.
For a complete listing of the Theater, Film and Panel Discussion offerings at Women Center Stage, stop by the Culture Project (55 Mercer Street, Manhattan)! Or check them out at:
Champagne is an associate professor of drama in the Conservatory of Theatre Arts, SUNY Purchase.
Thinking with the Body: Dance and Performance at the 13th Gwangju BiennaleBy Emily May
MARCH 2021 | Dance
This years Gwangju Biennale, set to take place in Gwangju, South Korea in April, includes the work of two celebrated choreographers, Trajal Harrell and Cecilia Bengolea. Through interviews with these dance artists and the biennales curators, Emily May explores the history of Gwangju; the organizing theme of Intelligence and the Expanded Mind; and the prominence of performance in the program.
Brenda Goodman: Hop Skip JumpNew Work 2022By Andrew L. Shea
MARCH 2023 | ArtSeen
These paintings work not in the realm of intellect, but that of feeling. Goodmans is a formalism that is never escapist or hermetic, but instead tied to an encyclopedic spectrum of human emotions, including terror, despondency, anger, hope, joy, even love. As she prepares to enter her ninth decade, Goodman has once again come upon a new abstract language that, somehow, remains intimately in touch with those important realities.
Walter De Maria: Boxes for Meaningless WorkBy Amanda Gluibizzi
MARCH 2023 | ArtSeen
Just as youre about to step into Walter De Maria: Boxes for Meaningless Work, you might notice a short, high-pitched sound underlying the other noises that occupy museum galleries. Its the chirping of crickets, and because it emanates from a speaker hung near the ceiling, it seems to envelop the vestibule, both placeable and unlocatable.
Eve Fowler: New WorkBy Ksenia Soboleva
FEB 2023 | ArtSeen
The exhibition of Fowlers work currently on view at Gordon Robichaux shows us that her feminist pursuits are far from abandoned. Fittingly titled Eve Fowler: New Work, the solo show consists of a film, a series of collages, and a nine-channel video installation.